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Entrepreneurship, like hospitality, is all about saying yes.

As owners of the Addison Choate Boutique Hotel in Rockport, Courtney and Marshall Tulley have been practicing the art of yes for years. It started in 2019 when they first opened the inn. Marshall would leave their home in Beverly to fulfill guest requests, no matter the time of day.

“People would text at 9:30 p.m. that they wanted to order cookies and milk, and he would drive to the inn,” Courtney says of her husband. “Or someone will let you know at 10 o’clock at night that they want additional towels. You’ve got to go and make sure that you do that.”

Courtney and Marshall Tulley | Photograph by Elise Sinagra

They want to create “joyful, memorable” travel experiences and will always cater to their customers’ needs in order to do so.

“Marshall really will say ‘yes’ to pretty much anything,” Courtney says. “It’s really a matter of hospitality.”

Saying yes is also a matter of entrepreneurship, even if the opportunity seems out of reach at first. That’s something else that Courtney and Marshall have learned as they’ve journeyed down their entrepreneurial path.

The couple purchased the Addison Choate in 2019 after first owning vacation rental properties. When they wanted to make the leap into true innkeeping and hospitality, they used the capital from selling their rental properties to get the Addison Choate up and running.

Photograph by Elise Sinagra

That included a four-month renovation to modernize the seven-room boutique hotel, which now includes updated, en suite marble bathrooms; new beds and mattresses; and elegant, coastal-inspired décor that feature eclectic, whimsical, and humorous touches, like a movie theater popcorn maker, record players, and cards under the bed assuring guests that they’ve checked for monsters. It also offers a freshly baked complimentary breakfast and a homelike feeling that cannot be manufactured.

“People feel comfortable,” Marshall says. “They’ll come down for breakfast wearing their robes. . . . People can relax and feel like they have a sense of home.”

Saying yes

Just months after the Tulleys opened the Addison Choate, though, the pandemic shut down all elements of travel and hospitality. But instead of giving up, the couple said yes to a pivot, coming up with another business idea that Marshall and Courtney called “hospitality adjacent.” The result was Denim Blanket Co., which sells beautiful, cozy, high-end blankets that are made in the United States with materials sourced from American companies.

“We wanted to add a product that people didn’t necessarily have to travel for that really aligns with all of the things that we really believe in,” Courtney says. “Having something that’s quality, having something that’s timeless.”

Since then, they’ve continued to say yes to new opportunities that align with their vision and broaden the scope of their hospitality offerings.

In addition the Addison Choate, the couple also owns the Sally Webster Collection, a small, boutique inn in Rockport; Telemark, a ski house in Vermont; and Denim Blanket Co., which recently opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront in Rockport’s Dock Square, also selling products from other makers, such as jewelry, handstitched pillows, and pottery.

They achieved their success by continuing to say yes to opportunities that crossed their path, even when they didn’t feel fully “ready” for them, such as jumping at the chance to snag hard-to-find retail space in Rockport for Denim Blanket Co.

Photograph by Katie Dwyer Photography

The same thing happened when Sally Webster came onto the market.

“When Sally Webster flew into our orbit, it was not something we were ready for,” Courtney says. But it was a great opportunity that they couldn’t say no to. So they sold their home in Beverly and used those funds to purchase the historic 1832-era inn, where they also live, allowing them not only to invest in their business but also to be more available for customers.

“We’re a lot closer, and I think we can make a much better experience,” Courtney says.

It also speaks to the power and importance of saying yes to great chances when they arise. Courtney calls that a “key tenet” to the entrepreneurial mindset.

“You never know when a good opportunity is going to present itself. So, if something does just drop into your sphere, it’s always a good practice to just say yes. Even if you don’t necessarily know how you’re going to make it work or if it will work,” she says. “If you’re willing and you’re committed to what you’re doing and something good just pops in front of you, grab it. Because at the end of the day, it will work out. If you’re committed to it, and you’re committed to putting in the time, and you have realistic expectations, you will make it successful.”