Salted Gems Lavallette NJ store inspired by the land, sea and elements of nature
Even before they met and married, pursuits like surfing, traveling, and appreciating the earth’s bounty came naturally to Brian Robinson and Dot Bugbee-Robinson.
And it all came full circle nearly a decade ago when the couple launched salted gemsa Lavallette-based boutique featuring a range of handmade jewelry, home decor, all-natural apothecary, crystals, shells and more, all inspired by the earth, sea and the rawest elements of the nature.
“Growing up, Dot and I both loved the beach and we eventually met while working at a surf school in Lavallette in 2012,” said Brian, 37, a Point Pleasant Beach native, a communications grad from Edmonton. ‘Monmouth University at West Long Branch.
“As a child, I was always fascinated by what the earth produced and loved collecting and painting seashells and making my own jewelry,” said Dot, 35, who grew up in Rockland County, New York, and moved to Lavallette when she was 17. “I attended Ocean County College in Toms River for two years, but ended up traveling and moving to Costa Rica to surf, organize surf retreats and participate in international surf competitions between the ages of 19 and 25. .”
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Dating back to when Super Storm Sandy hit in October 2012, “we worked to rebuild Dot’s parents’ house,” Brian recalls. “After that, Dot didn’t return to Costa Rica and we decided to go to Bali instead.”
“It was a new opportunity, world-class surfing and amazing, beautiful culture,” Dot said of the destination. “Friends of ours had shops on the Shore and asked us to bring back handmade jewelry and sarongs, so we would stay in Bali for two months at a time, come back and sell here for around $5,000 worth of items . It eventually became a local trend for people to go to Bali and bring back things to sell to pay for their trip.
“At that point, we decided to go completely personalized and unique and connect with a silversmith in Bali to learn more about working with sterling silver and making our own jewelry,” Dot said. “We launched Salted Gems in 2013 and began doing pop-up shows like Asbury Park Bazaar and selling merchandise at Surf Taco and Langosta Lounge holiday shows, local retail stores like Plethora Boutique and later , at Gordon’s Surf Shop in Point Pleasant Beach and Wanderlust in Sea Girt. We have also grown Salted Gems on Etsy and Instagram and out of our garage by private appointment,” she said.
After several years, the now-married couple decided to take their business to the next level and open a physical store. “We were fine and started looking, but rental spaces were hard to come by in Lavallette,” Brian said.
“However, we were returning from a trip to the pet store one day in 2018 when we saw a ‘for rent’ sign in town and called the owner. Two hours later we were in the store and the next day we were signing the lease,” he said of their store launch. “Our store is located one block from the beach and we ended up buying the building in 2020.”
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Today, in their nearly 600 square foot space, “the heart of our store is our jewelry,” Brian said of their business, which currently has three goldsmiths and a stonemason working to produce their line. “Salted Gems” (in reference to the fruits of their “salty journeys”), but which also carries other local artisans.
“We first got into gemstones by buying pre-cut cabochons for rings, earrings and pendants, then buying them in rough form so customers could choose their own stone for members to use. of our team are carving it,” said Brian.
“Our jewelry is primarily sterling silver and recycled brass and reflects our love of travel,” Dot said. “Our signature pieces include fossilized shark teeth, Australian boulder opal, turquoise, larimar (a beautiful turquoise volcanic stone found only in the Dominican Republic) and sea glass and wampum shell from right here in Lavallette,” she said.
“Other stones we work with include crystal quartz, amethyst, rose quartz, moonstone, citrine, pearls, abalone, amber and coral from areas such as the United States. United, Indonesia, Africa, Thailand, India, Madagascar, New Zealand and Canada,” Dot mentioned. Also sold on their website, she said, “We offer the bohemian beach lifestyle for anyone in the world to enjoy.
“Each piece has meaning, symbolism and history and we love being able to tell customers where it came from and what it means,” Dot said of their unique pieces. “Prices start at $25 for a simple set of studs or a wave ring and range up to $200 for an opal, turquoise, or lodolite ring or necklace.”
Using adjustable bands on their ring designs makes them easy to order for yourself or give as gifts, she said, “and we also offer adjustable chains.”
Salted Gems also offers other products such as tumbled stones, specimens and statement pieces, seashells, CBD items, mushroom tinctures, taxidermy, cacti and succulents and incense, “and our customers come from all over, including New York, Pennsylvania, Canada, California, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina,” Dot said. “They may have come to the area for other reasons, but end up by discovering our store and revisiting and/or shopping online for the holidays, so we’ve built many loyal customers.”
Designing and purchasing all the materials needed to produce over 200-300 pieces of jewelery per month, Brian and Dot said business had been strong.
“The pandemic has helped our business as many people have come to live in their Shore homes or rent here,” he said. “We ended up seeing a big increase in walk-in traffic that was able to sustain us all year.”
Among the trends, “layering different necklaces and necklaces is popular today, and there has been a resurgence of interest in crystals, which amplify mindfulness and help promote spiritual healing,” Dot said.
“People suffer from anxiety and stress and need alternative and natural remedies, so CBD oil-infused products have also become important,” added Brian. “We sell high-quality CBD and take it ourselves every day.”
Regarding the challenges, “we currently have two employees and have two more coming this summer, but it can be difficult to find good help and we need employees with whom we can grow our business,” said said Brian. “There’s a lot to learn about gemstones, jewelry, CBD and other things we sell, so it’s hard to educate people quickly.”
Among their most notable new products, “we have a large jewelry order which will include lots of beautiful triple-A quality rainbow moonstones, as well as our new line of funky ‘Dot Dangles’ earrings made with pearls, shells and crystals,” Brian said. “Further on, we would love to open another site and also license our Salted Gems brand. gemstones and let’s see that grow in the future as well.
For Dot, working alongside Brian is the biggest benefit of all. “Being able to work with my husband/best friend and share this experience together is my favorite part of our business,” she said.
“We are so grateful to be here in Lavallette, one block from the beach and the bay and to be able to put our feet in the grass or the sand,” said Brian. “At the same time, we sell positive, uplifting things and it’s great to see people walk into our store, breathe and feel better and happier,” he said. “It feels good to be able to make a living in a place like this.”
Location: 906B Grand Central Avenue, Lavallette
Owners: Brian Robinson and Dot Bugbee-Robinson
Spear : 2013 (and in the current physical store since 2018)