To live in a bayside city is to be the recipient of a myriad perks. High on the list is easy access to ships setting sail at dusk or under a moonlit sky. Oftentimes, the water is calm and glassy. Once in a while, it is agitated and merciless. Enter a time-tested symbol of stability and steadfastness – the anchor. When jeweler Laurel Baker founded Anchor Boutique in 2010, it was with appreciation for the name’s versatile meaning. “It kind of encompasses a lot of things,” reflects Laurel as she explains what went into the name.
Family ties played a role. After serving in Vietnam, Laurel’s father bought a boat and became a treasure hunter. His nautical excursions took him to the waters of South and Central America where he found artifacts that were later donated to museums. He had a special interest in cutting gemstones – particularly agatized coral (Florida’s official state stone). “I use it in my jewelry today,” shares Laurel as pale light from an overcast sky soaks the sun room in which we sit. Laurel’s mother has a background in hospital administration and is known for her tenacity. Laurel chuckles, “She won’t let me give up.” This comes as no surprise after learning how Laurel’s mom spearheaded the recovery of a hospital’s reputation with several hurdles along the way.
In her early days, Laurel shared retail space with fellow vendors and learned the value of collaboration. This ‘community over competition’ ethos continued to play out during expansion into a larger space. Despite being the sole occupant of her shop now, she still hosts events involving fellow business owners. “Now I can move the shop forward…I do repairs, I do custom work.” Anchor Boutique has become a mainstay jewelry shop. But Laurel isn’t quick to accept full credit for her growth. On the importance of delegating, she notes, “Some people can take the heavy lifting off your shoulders…to grow, you have to trust other people.” So when it comes to web hosting, Laurel is willing to trust her team so she can better tackle responsibilities unique to business ownership. These include customizing engagement rings and repairing jewelry often rich in sentimental value. These transactions connect her to people in ways that last for decades.
The boutique’s presence caught the attention of the environmental community when The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience approached Laurel about commissioning a necklace series. This will be in conjunction with an oyster reef restoration project that combats flooding and erosion. Proceeds from the sales of this oyster-inspired piece will help fund the initiative. “That’s a way I can use my craft to give back,” relates Laurel.
As she contemplates the future, Laurel has her sights set on innovation. “I’ve always wanted to invent something and patent it.” It will be no surprise when once again, our nautical community buzzes with news of Anchor Boutique’s latest adventure.
Learn more about Anchor Boutique by visiting www.anchorboutique.com. Photography by David Steele.