Gloucester’s Jenny Davis transforms a seafaring staple into lust-worthy accessories.
Before she could ride a bike, Jenny Davis knew her way around a sailboat. “My parents bought our first boat when I was two years old,” says Davis, who is now 27. “I’ve been sailing since I could walk.” So when the Gloucester native began to think about starting her own business, it’s hardly surprising that her maritime hobby served as its inspiration.
The wheels started turning in the spring of 2007, when the recent University of New Hampshire grad was working in the marketing department at Whole Foods and came across a tote bag made from a recycled sail. “Part of my job was to introduce handcrafted goods from small New England vendors into the company’s retail stores,” she explains. “When I saw the bags, I loved their sustainability, but I knew I could make a higher-quality product with more diverse designs.”
Soon, Second Wind Sails was born. At first, Davis’s line was limited to just three bag styles (a tote, a duffel, and a messenger bag), all made to order out of her parents’ home. Even her mom, Terri, pitched in. “She’s an amazing seamstress,” Davis says of her mother. “She taught me everything I know about sewing.”
As online orders poured in, Davis pondered an expansion. First on her list: getting to work on new products. Customer demand sparked the introduction of a line of home goods, including pillows and shower curtains, which are now her top sellers.
Davis also knew she needed to differentiate Second Wind Sails from its competitors. An apprenticeship with the sail makers at Danvers-based Downs Sails during the summer of 2010 inspired her signature three-step cleaning and restoration process to remove dirt and mold from the sails. “At the time, other companies were simply remanufacturing them as is,” says Davis, who gets most of her sails locally, but has had them shipped from Maine, Virginia, and Rhode Island. “My feeling is that if I’m going to buy a new product, I want it to be as beautiful as possible. Then, I can beat it up on my own.”
With Second Wind Sails moving forward at a healthy clip, the budding entrepreneur launched a second brand called On Shore Designs, which features T-shirts, sweatshirts, and accessories. “It’s been exciting to work with different materials like jute and leather,” she says. “Eventually, I’d like to add some clothing to Second Wind, just a piece here and there.”
Now, opening a retail storefront in Gloucester and hiring full-time staff (she’s currently working out of her own home using contract help) are Davis’s top priorities. She hopes both will aid the growth of the local economy. “I want my customers and the people of this community to feel a real connection to handcrafted goods,” Davis says. “Gloucester is my home, and I want my business to thrive here.” secondwindsails.net