With the first sales of jewelry going back to his father’s beach cabana at Casa Ybel Resort, Scot Congress has many fond memories of how his family’s business was established.
Back in 1981, his parents left their life up north behind and started a bike and boat rental business on the beach.
“My dad had sold jewelry in a previous career up north and he started buying some pieces out of Miami and offering them for sale at the cabana,” recalls Congress. “And, my mom loved shelling. So, that’s really how our sea life line of jewelry began.”
By starting a line of hand-crafted jewelry out of actual beach shells, the Congress family birthed a legacy business that has captivated generations of vacationers and residents alike on the islands.
“We now have original customers passing down their sea life pendants and earrings to their grandchildren,” he says. “It’s just so heartwarming to see how our jewelry has become such a treasured keepsake.”
In 1984, the family sold the bike and boat rental business and went into jewelry full-time, opening a small shop in Periwinkle Place, where it remains to this day. In 1993, the rousing success of their very special jewelry led to the expansion to three storefronts.
Running the business with his wife, Melissa, who came on board to help with computerized inventory, Congress recently initiated a new line of birth shell jewelry, where each month is assigned a shell that is hand-crafted on the island and augmented with the birthstone.
“We’re really excited about our line of birth shells in continuing our family’s legacy of very special island keepsakes,” he says.
Attending jewelry shows from Italy to Asia, they also curate a coveted collection of designer jewelry.
“We have a very high caliber clientele that knows we offer pieces that they can only otherwise find in New York, L.A. or London. That’s what makes us so special,” says Congress, adding that for many part-time residents and repeat vacationers, the shop has become a mainstay of their island experience.
Hearkening back to the friendly origins of the business on the beach, the store is employed by a tenured, warm and well-studied staff that values and caters to all levels of clientele.
“Whether they’re shopping for a $25 pendant or a top of the line designer piece, we treat them with the same care and level of service,” he says. “Either Melissa or I are in the store every day, we’re open seven days a week and we hope to provide more keepsakes for generations to come.”
Written by Barbara Linstrom