Traditional Nautical Bracelet Gets a Modern Twist

In this Salute to American Success, we're taking a look at the business of Lemon & Line and its founder David Norton. This Newport, Rhode Island-based company, which commenced operations in 2010, mainly focuses on creating classic rope bracelets with a modern flare. The inspiration behind the company and its products came from Norton's love and passion for sailing.

"The concept of the company was born on the water… to give a more streamlined look to a classic bracelet,” Norton said. "My father bought a boat soon after I was born. I grew up sailing competitively… it’s a big part of my identity. I’m passionate about it and super active in it."

Fittingly, Norton said he came up with the idea for the bracelets while on a boat.

“I was out cruising and looked down and said it was too much… I can’t have something [bracelet] on my wrist I couldn’t take off," he said.

The sailor first brought his idea, which added metal clasps to the traditional bracelets, to boat shows where it became a big hit.

"Everyone recognized the idea, but no one had ever seen the type of bracelet with the hardware before," Norton said. "People loved [the bracelets] at the boat show…we kept selling out each day and we kept bringing them back.”

Keeping with his roots, the bracelets are manufactured mostly in-house at the company's flagship headquarters in Newport, Rhode Island, with Norton as the primary designer.

"I work on every piece of it," Norton said. "People tend to think we’re much larger than we actually are. We originally made them [the bracelets] in the basement. My wife is an integral part of the business too."

Although the sailing season is typically March through October, Lemon & Line operates year-round, and has 150 wholesale accounts throughout the country, according to Norton.

"There's always somebody in-season... down in Florida, out in California... we see a spike in sales in the summertime," he said. "January and February are probably the two slowest months. We see a jump in sales during the holidays as well. We use the low times to refine hardware, etc."

Sales for Lemon & Line are strongest in the New England region, but the company also sees quite a bit of activity in the Great Lakes and further down parts of the East Coast, according to Norton. He also said West Coast activity is starting to pick up, while international traffic is directed to an e-commerce website in Germany.

One of the company's goals is to contribute to different charitable organizations.

"We partner with Sail Newport, a local, community sailing organization," Norton said. "We're currently in the process of teaming with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for their Leukemia Cup Regatta."

In its fifth year of operation, Norton said he is looking forward to seeing what's next for the company.

"The future is really bright," he said. "We’re not the only people to make rope bracelets and we won’t be the last. We’ve been able to create something really pure and really authentic. I don’t look at us as just a bracelet company… I look at us as more of a lifestyle brand."

He added, "we will continue to develop our accessory line: bracelets, belts, bags… and [we] might go into clothing market."

Norton said not every day is perfect, but being passionate about his work and the products Lemon & Line make are most important.

"Every day has its ups and downs… we take pride in keeping everything as local as possible and really focus on quality, presentation, branding and the story behind it," he said.