“The Grommet” Co-Founder Gives Keynote At Million Dollar Women Symposium

By Julia Taliesin Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While many consumers may not have heard of "The Grommet", it is more than likely they have heard of one of their best-selling products. Mrs. Meyers soap, Bananagrams, and FitBit are among them.

Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.

Even though half of The Grommet's office building is in Somerville and the other half is in Cambridge, according to Joanne Jonah Domeniconi, Co-Founder and Chief Discovery Officer, The Grommet is a Somerville-based business.

"When we moved here in 2013, we actually made a deliberate decision to have our mailing address changed to Somerville," she said. "Not only did we want to be more accessible to our many makers based here, we want our business to be associated with the vibrant and diverse Somerville community."

On Thursday, Nov. 8, Jonah Domeniconi was honored with the keynote address at Salem State University's Enterprise Center's 13th annual Million Dollar Women Symposium at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem.

The event was sold out, with 170 people from the Greater Boston and North Shore area attending, from seventh graders to college students to businesswomen with decades of experience. Other notable "million dollar" women addressed the crowd, including Cambridge-based businesswoman Denise Aronson of Safety Partners Inc., a company that implements safety programs for science companies.

"The first thing you should know about me is I'm a woman from Lynn," Jonah Domeniconi began to shouts of approval.

"I'm the daughter of a neighborhood pharmacist and I learned many of my most important lessons about entrepreneurship there"

When she speaks, Jonah Domeniconi radiates passionate energy for her company as well as the many products they release every week.

"The founding principle of the Grommet is to use technology to help people discover what's next, to create product understanding for innovative products, and to organize it by the values people use to shop by," she said. "The Grommet is all about independent small business."

So, why is it called "The Grommet"?

While many consumers may not have heard of The Grommet, it is more than likely they have heard of one of their best-selling products. Mrs. Meyers soap, Bananagrams, and FitBit are among them.

That is exactly how Jonah Domeniconi wants it.

Her company is named the company for two reasons: one, her partner and CEO Jules Pieri loves grommets, and two, "because grommets are a humble, hardworking, and useful piece of hardware."

"Those are the characteristics we aim to represent," she said. "We are humble -- the story is not about The Grommet, but about our makers."

The Grommet is currently working with 3,000 makers, and has worked with 4,500 over the years. They have hundreds of thousands of followers across their social media accounts, which does not include their entire dedicated consumer base.

"One of our mottos is 'tell, don't sell,'" she said. "We want to share the story of the people behind the product, give a reason why to buy this product, and make connections for consumers who care about what they buy and where it's made."

The neighborhood Their open-concept office is airy, colorful, fun, and only a short walk from Davis Square. A wall here and there displays an inspiring quote, and a gallery of products, from toys to a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap, greets anyone who enters the front door.

While this exposed brick walls bring to mind any hipsters dream of a start-up office space, The Grommet is actually celebrating 10 years.

"We are proud to be based in Somerville. The mayor has visited us three times!" she said. "He came to our ribbon cutting in 2013, and has since commended us on our community involvement. We love him."

Jonah Domeniconi proudly described her effort to make sure her 90 employees reflect the diversity of their community.

"Somerville is a beautiful melting pot," she said. "We love the diversity of this city; we embrace it, we live it."

The future is bright Jonah Domeniconi excitedly shared that recently ACE Hardware assumed a majority stake in The Grommet. The reason for this partnership stems from ACE's cooperative model, meaning every ACE store is independently owned. By the end of 2019, The Grommet will have a place in over 600 stores.

"We have a vision to supply ACE stores with tomorrow's biggest products," she said. "We want to help these independent shop owners compete with distinctive merchandise exclusive to ACE and The Grommet."

According to Jonah Domeniconi, the core of their business is community development around innovative products. "Everything we do is meant to amplify success for entrepreneurs," she said. "That is how we are going to change the world."

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