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Paula Kelly and Barbara Graveline, Nodding Burr Originals, Foxboro, MA

Creating Family Heirlooms Manufactured in the U.S.

Paula Kelly and Barbara Graveline, friends since college, had successful careers in business where Paula became a CPA and Barbara a banker. While they both enjoyed analyzing numbers and business issues, their jobs lacked an outlet for their creative side, which they discovered while raising their children. Four years ago, they started talking about a business of their own that would be both creative and accommodate a work and family lifestyle.

 Paula Kelly and Barbara Graveline, Founders of Nodding Bur Originals, LLC

Barbara and Paula wanted to sell products manufactured in the U.S. since they were concerned about the decline in the manufacturing base. They knew products sourced locally would be more expensive, so they decided to focus on upscale tableware products, with their first product line being stemware charms. These wine charms are essentially jewelry for the table. The charms are now manufactured and packaged by other small businesses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which have shared their experience with Paula and Barbara.

Nodding Bur is the name of a marigold which is a native New England wildflower. The marigold, a resilient flower, represents beauty and warmth, characteristics Paula and Barbara felt symbolized their aspirational brand. The products are designed to invite conversation and connection, allowing people to step outside of the digital world and enter a place of relaxation and beauty.

The stemware charms are primarily sold in sets of four charms with each set incorporating the signature marigold charm. There are two inspiring sets of word charms: Believe, Begin, Become; and Smart, Savvy, Stylish. Since customers love the marigold charm, the company now also offers a set with a floral bouquet. The charms are available in rhodium or rose gold and use an innovative spring gate design, which is unique and enduring. Each set includes a complementary display ring and custom gift box. Customized options are available to personalize the gift.

Nodding Bur Originals had a soft product launch in May 2017 and full product launch in December 2017. They sell products primarily through their web site: and have attended local exhibitor events such as the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Nantucket Wine Festival and bridal expositions since the products make excellent bridal party gifts. They plan to be at the Newport Wine and Food Festival in the fall.

How Did CWE Help?

Nodding Bur Originals, LLC10 Fisher Street, Unit 2102Foxboro, MA 

Paula and Barbara were experienced business women but knew there were gaps in their skills and found CWE through a valued colleague. Barbara and Paula first turned to CWE for assistance on intellectual property issues and CWE connected them with pro bono lawyers who counseled the co-founders on trademark and patent issues with their designs. They have also taken courses on Search Engine Optimization and Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience. Paula and Barbara say that CWE has been instrumental in the start-up phase and provided the resources to help them protect their business and market their products.

Advice for Other Entrepreneurs?

  • Establishing a successful company is a collaborative effort. Communication with suppliers needs to be timely and effective.
  • Identify and seek out expert resources and continue to call on them for guidance and support as the business grows.
  • Learning never stops. Change is constant, and you need to be poised to react and respond accordingly.