Settling down to business
By taking on the artistically inclined Margie – and in the process discovering she has great business instincts too – Cheryl was able to build CB Stark into a more serious venture. After teaching Margie how to polish, hammer, solder, and do repairs, both women could soon design, create, and sell their jewelry, enabling them to grow into new retail spaces in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown, shuffling locations as they figured out the business.
Margie had first come to the Island in 1968 with college friends and fell in love with the beauty of the land and sea. Shortly after she began to work with Cheryl in 1972, she assumed responsibility for all in-house jewelry production. “I designed and created all the map pieces that we sell,” Margie says, pride evident in her voice. She recently spearheaded the design of CB Stark’s new Gingerbread Collection – earrings, charms, and beads in sterling silver and 14-carat gold – inspired by the ornamental wooden trim on historic cottages in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground. In addition to remaining a vital part of the Stark design team, Margie has begun creating abstract paintings in her free time.
Like many partners, Cheryl and Margie are yin and yang – Cheryl, the more gregarious, traditionally worked the front of the shop, while Margie, the more introverted, oversaw the myriad details that comprise a thriving year-round jewelry business.
When they moved to their current location at 53A Main Street in Vineyard Haven, the pair had been partners in both work and life for about eight years. From a twelve-foot-square garage space to a large, more serious space on the main shopping drag, CB Stark evolved into a full-service jewelry store. “It was all a learning process,” Cheryl explains. “Neither of us came from a business background. We started carrying jewelry from other designers to fill the space.”
“Down in the garage it was just the two of us,” Margie adds. “We didn’t need help. When we moved up here we realized we couldn’t sit at the bench all day. We had to be on the floor helping people.”
Growing and evolving
The times, they were a-changin’ and CB Stark changed right along with them. From a two-woman seasonal operation in a garage to a year-round jewelry business with a full-time location in Vineyard Haven and a seasonal location in Edgartown, Cheryl and Margie grew from hammering out peace signs and toe rings for walk-in customers to maintaining a wide selection of fine jewelry and signature Island mementos.
“We built our business by creating remembrances for people who don’t live here,” Margie says. Their Island-themed charms and pendants in iconic shapes include a bunch of grapes, the silhouette of the Vineyard land mass, the Island town signs, the Black Dog logo, and many others, totaling more than five hundred original designs that the team has created in gold, silver, and platinum.
And as the business expanded, so too did the staff. CB Stark is proud to maintain four full-time, year-round employees, as well as numerous seasonal additions. “We couldn’t do it without them,” Cheryl and Margie say, nearly in unison – no surprise, since the couple has been sharing their lives and their business now for more than four decades.