Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, designer Darby Scott has emerged from the grip of the pandemic with an exciting new plan for her eponymous luxury goods company in North Andover. In addition to her current line of upscale women’s wear, jewelry, leather goods, and bejeweled exotic skin purses, she’s recently expanded into home goods, apothecary, tableware, art, and décor and will soon add books. She’s collaborating with local makers to create bespoke product lines and working on opening a retail store.
“I don’t want to be isolated in my studio anymore,” says Scott, who, before the pandemic, opened her atelier-boutique to the public only three days a week or by appointment. “One of my employees lost her husband to COVID, and at the start of the pandemic my father was diagnosed with cancer. I spent the better part of the pandemic helping my parents sell their house, moving them, and taking my father to appointments for treatment. So, I was really forced to isolate—and coming out of all that and seeing things open up, I decided to make a change.”
In addition to opening Wednesday through Saturday and Monday and Tuesday by appointment, Scott has transformed her boutique into a concept store inspired by the Milanese enterprise 10 Corso Como, a retail marketplace blending fashion, lifestyle, art, music, photography, and design with one-of-a-kind items fabricated by new and emerging artisans.
“I want to offer collections of gift items, whether it be a housewarming gift, wedding gift, or anniversary gift, that can be found nowhere else,” says Scott, who’s tired of seeing the same brands offered in gift stores across the country. “And I want to do that by supporting women-owned, minority-owned, and small New England businesses to add to the range of items within the Darby Scott lifestyle brand.”
For some lines, like the hand-carved wooden boards and spreaders crafted by a female woodworker in Tennessee, Scott won’t be the designer. For most other collections, however, she will. “I’m currently working with a variety of makers in the New England area to do collaborative collections,” says Scott, who grew up in Harvard. “It’s all about tapping into my New England roots.”
One such maker is James McLeod, founder of Rockport’s Cleod Glassworks and The Bubble Factory glass studio in Essex. Scott approached him during the pandemic to create a glassware collection in rich colors similar to those of her mosaic jewelry line. McLeod agreed, and the result is a line of gem-colored bowls, perfect for holding crackers or lemons, with a matching glass cylinder for stirred cocktails or even to hold flowers.
Scott’s also working with a local ceramicist to design wedding, home, and gift items. During the holidays, Scott curated pieces from local artist Jill Goldman Callahan, who gave a series of talks in Scott’s store, as did glassmaker McLeod. Both artists talked about their creative process and new works. For shoppers, it’s a way to appreciate the story behind the makers and their goods and encounter new and different creations on display in Scott’s boutique.
Scott also offers more affordable items. She’s planning to make casual versions of her luxury women’s wear and recently released a line of everyday jewelry.
“I wanted to create jewelry that people can wear and not feel afraid they might lose,” says Scott, who uses sterling silver to craft much of the collection. “I also wanted to work with semiprecious stones and steer away from the richer jewel tones we’re doing in the mosaic collection.” The result is a line of rings, necklaces, and earrings called the Confection Collection, featuring pale-colored stones Scott likens to French macarons. Her line of tennis bracelets made with semiprecious stones will soon come to market, followed by jewelry for travel and some funky gold- and silver-plated pieces.
Then there’s the retail store, where Scott plans to showcase all her unique offerings. Although she’s still scouting for space, she knows wherever she lands, the shop will be a whimsical gallery of delights. “I want it to be a place that people return to over and over again because each time they visit, they discover something new, whether it’s a $20 apothecary item or a $20,000 something,” says Scott. “If somebody is walking past the shop at night and the lights are on, I want them to stop and pause because what they see captures their imagination or takes their breath away.”
Scott, who, sad to say, lost her father last summer, knows how precious and short life can be. “I recently turned sixty, so my attitude is, ‘It’s now or never, babe,’” she says, referring to all she wants to accomplish. “I’m flying by the seat of my pants, yet doing all these things feeds my soul. And if other people are happy with what I create, that totally thrills me.”