Fifteen billion dollars has a nice ring to it, no? That’s the value currently attached to Westchester’s booming biotech/healthcare/medtech industry. Leading the way are biotech giants like Regeneron (shown in top image), a 3,000-plus-employee powerhouse whose Tarrytown headquarters houses the R&D facilities that have spawned its three commercial products: the $1.4 billion blockbuster Eylea, an injection for treating various eye disorders, and its two other marketed drugs, Arcalyst and Zaltrap. Acorda Therapeutics, another big industry player, developed its flagship product, Ampyra, which improves walking in people with multiple sclerosis (and generated roughly $350 million in sales in 2014), along with Zanaflex and Qutenza at its research labs in Ardsley. In Tarrytown, Progenics Pharmaceuticals’ scientists have created dozens of compounds in its labs; many have been in clinical trials, and its drug Relistor, which helps combat the side effects of opioids many cancer patients suffer from, is currently approved in more than 50 countries worldwide. Curemark, which develops compounds intended to treat autism, also calls Westchester home. The Rye-based drug research and development firm’s lead product, CM-AT, is currently awaiting FDA approval. HistoGenetics, which has been in Westchester since 1999, specializes in tissue typing (HLA) services and DNA sequence-based typing (SBT) for blood stem-cell transplants. The firm is a global leader in its field, processing nearly 800,000 samples and 5 million genetic tests annually. And Yonkers-based ContraFect, which develops molecular treatments to fight drug-resistant infectious diseases, is currently proceeding into phase I clinical trials with its investigational new drug, CF-301. So why do all these biotech firms choose to have their products “made” in Westchester? “Westchester provides ready access [to the assets necessary to build a successful biotech company], while also providing ample laboratory and office space, excellent schools, and a physically beautiful environment,” says Acorda President and CEO Ron Cohen, MD.
Small, independent, family-run presses are an anomaly in today’s publishing industry. But Peter Pauper Press, based in White Plains, has been at it since 1928 and is still known as one of America’s leading publishers of fine gift books, humor books, travel guides (including its award-winning travel series, Little Black Travel Books), journals, stationery, and children’s activity books. Peter Pauper publishes between 100 and 175 new books and ancillary products per year—and the staff at its Mamaroneck Avenue offices is responsible for conceiving, developing, writing, editing, and designing nearly all of them. The firm is also competing smartly in a print world that is rapidly being taken over by technology. “We’re experimenting with formats that are less vulnerable to digitization—things like journals, notecards, sketchpads, and art supplies that people like to have in hard copy,” says Editorial Director Barbara Paulding.
Mario Marsicano, cofounder of Bronxville’s quirky home furnishings company Jellio, has a love of toys so intense that it worked its way into his home furniture. When he began enshrining his favorite toys in glass display cases that doubled as end tables, bookends, etc., the idea caught on with his friends, and Jellio was born in 2005. Today, the online-only company’s many whimsical, childhood-inspired pieces have landed on the sets of four Nickelodeon TV series, like the $6,200 Candelier (right), a spherical arrangement of thousands of dangling illuminated rubber gummy bears made by Jellio Production Manager Kevin Champeny, that was Carly Shay’s bedroom light on Nickelodeon’s iCarly. Jellio’s most prolific item, though, is the GummiLight, an 8”-tall bear-shaped light made from solid resin that retails for $75. Other items include a $600 Rubik’s Cube table, Cone Counter Stools (stools that look like ice-cream cones) for $750, and the Chip Ottoman, which is modeled after an ice-cream sandwich, which sells for $700. “We often say that if FAO Schwarz and the Museum of Modern Art had a child, the child would be Jellio,” says Marsicano.
As New York State’s fourth largest city, Yonkers is home to many people and many things—but who knew that a firearms manufacturer was one of them? With a product line of nearly 200 rifles and handguns, Kimber America is the world’s largest producer of 1911 pistols. Manufactured at both their Yonkers headquarters and at a second plant in New Jersey, Kimber firearms are used by the USA Shooting Team, the LAPD SWAT, and US Marine Corps, among others.
When Lori Slater cofounded In2Green nine years ago, she saw a distinct niche in the home furnishings market: beautiful, modern, luxurious goods that just happen to be eco-friendly. The Hastings-on-Hudson-based company’s unique graphic throws, ponchos, totes, scarves, baby blankets, and apparel items are “upcycled” products. The company purchases fabric scraps from textile mills across the United States and Central America and re-fiberizes them back into spinnable cotton that it uses to produce its designs. Because the cotton is already colored, it doesn’t need to be irrigated or dyed and therefore uses fewer resources. Slater works with two Westchester designers to create the goods, which are manufactured in the tri-state area. The business is now thriving, selling online and in more than 500 stores across the country, including local favorites like maisonette (Hastings), Breeze (Chappaqua), Pretty Funny Vintage (Tarrytown), and Current Home (Scarsdale).
In the shadow of the Indian Point Energy Center sits an unassuming manufacturing plant that, every six minutes, manufactures enough gypsum wallboard to build an entire house. It’s the Buchanan location of Virginia-based Continental Building Products, a leading producer of wallboard and joint-compound materials. The Buchanan plant—which was built in 1968 for the Georgia Pacific Corporation, purchased by Lafarge North America in 1996, and expanded in 2006—houses 105 employees and is the last remaining wallboard plant in New York State. (“All the others closed during the recent recession,” says plant manager Craig Ferry.) It ships roughly 650 million square feet of board each year to customers like Lowe’s as well as drywall distributors and lumberyards. Most of its customers are within a 150-mile radius, which gives CBP the advantage of quick service and delivery, notes Ferry.
When Scott Mikolay launched his eponymous jewelry line with his wife Tara in 2008, his main goal was to get away from mass-produced goods from China. He also wanted to design a line based on the English Renaissance time period, when all jewelry was handmade and statement pieces were a part of everyday life. The result is a custom line sold at the Mikolay’s Chappaqua shop, Desires by Mikolay, with pieces ranging from $890 all the way up to $60,000 for a ruby-and-diamond necklace that took two years to create. All pieces are conceptualized and designed by Scott, then fabricated by a father-and-son jewelry team in Westchester. When the Mikolays were approached by a larger company to produce the line overseas, they turned it down. “It’s so important to us that we oversee the quality right here,” Tara explains.
While Westchester is, of course, home to beer giant Heineken, it’s our local craft breweries that are responsible for the county’s booming beer scene. Setting the mold for the other breweries that have popped up since, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company was founded in 2004 by Scott Vaccaro, fresh off stints at big-time brewers like Sierra Nevada. Beer produced by the now 30-plus-employee company located in Elmsford is sold across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (and will expand to Pennsylvania this year) and has collected numerous awards, including the 2006 and 2014 Matthew Vassar Brewers’ Cup (awarded to the best brewery in the Hudson Valley) at the TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival. Sometime around 2008, Keith Berardi realized Westchester was lacking a craft beer scene, so he founded the Peekskill Brewery along with his wife, Kara, and sister Morgan. Brewing three to four times a week, they’re expected to brew 2,200 barrels in 2015 (up exponentially from their 450-barrel output a few years ago), which you can find at bars across Westchester, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and of course at Peekskill Brewery’s on-site bar. Broken Bow Brewery, which opened in 2013 by former Merrill Lynch wealth manager Lyle LaMothe, has quickly attracted a rabid fan base. In its first month of operation, Lyle’s son—Michael LaMothe, founding partner and head brewer—whipped up about 10 barrels. Now, they’re moving approximately 100 barrels a month, self-delivering to stores like Stew Leonard’s and A&P, and quenching the thirst of diners at restaurants like Mambo 64 and Burrata. And Westchesterites aren’t the only ones showing love: The brewery’s Broken Heart Stout won the Judge’s Award Gold Medal at the Citi Field Bacon and Beer Classic in 2013. A little farther south, Yonkers Brewing Company is churning out 1,100 barrels a year, though it expects that number to rise in 2015. Founded in 2010 by John Rubbo and Nick Califano, Yonkers Brewing Company just started brewing in a new waterfront location. Its flagship beer, the Yonkers Lager (along with about five other varieties), can be found in more than 300 bars, restaurants, lounges, beer shops, and supermarkets across Westchester, New York City, and the Hudson Valley.
Most people have never heard of Mount Vernon-based consumer products company Zelco Industries, but there’s a good chance you own one of Zelco’s most popular designs: The Itty Bitty Book Light. It’s been 30 years since the firm debuted the Itty Bitty, and it’s still a top seller according to Nicole Zeller, whose family founded the company in 1976. At the Mount Vernon facility, Zelco researches, designs, develops, markets, and distributes products ranging from book lights and desk lamps to optics, household items, and travel accessories. (The company used to manufacture here as well, but, not surprisingly, Zeller says doing so today is “cost-prohibitive.”) The company is known for its innovative designs—its Pocket Fluorescent Lantern even holds a place in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
While you might be sick of hearing that Selena Gomez song for the umpteenth time, radio stations know exactly how often they should play it—thanks to sophisticated broadcast software designed in White Plains by RCS. The company, which was founded in Scarsdale in 1979, creates a range of software and services that are widely used in the media industries. What do RCS products do? For starters, they can monitor every single spot and ad played on the radio in top cities across the US; supply data for Top 40 charts; and create sophisticated playlists used by radio stations in more than 100 countries around the world. The company, which does some $100 million in annual sales, has 850 worldwide employees across 22 locations, and about 100 at the headquarters on Hamilton Avenue. Quite simply, RCS is the leader in its field: “You don’t get a job [in radio] if you don’t put on your resume that you know how to use our software,” says President and CEO Philippe Generali.
Synthetic leather gets a bad rap, but the high-end polyurethane synthetic leather products developed and designed by Ultrafabrics in Tarrytown are used in a surprising number of ways—”on pretty much anything you can upholster,” says A.R. Swan, the company’s marketing manager. While the fabrics are manufactured in Japan, the product development and design team toils away in Tarrytown on Ultrafabrics’ 18 different collections. And from the Elmsford warehouse, Ultrafabrics products go to distributors as far away as Australia. Its products show up on seats in cars, airplanes, RVs, and boats; on headboards in boutique hotels; and on massage tables in spas, among many other things. The fabrics also have an edge over leather because they are antimicrobial (making them popular for healthcare settings), durable, stain-resistant, breathable, and less expensive, Swan explains.
Whether you’re enjoying a bagel in Westchester’s Mount Vernon or Mount Vernon, Washington, it’s more than likely that your bagel was made from scratch at Neri’s Bakery Products, Inc. The 105-year-old company traces its roots back to Beech Street in Port Chester, where Paul Neri started a bakery in a small garage. Now, Neri’s 260,000-square-foot factory houses millions of dollars of baking equipment, including seven dough mixers with a 1,300-pound capacity each, and four 110-foot long tunnel ovens. The 24/7 business bakes 10 million bagels a week (consisting of 1.7 million pounds of dough) along with breads and pastries, thanks to its 270 full-time employees. Nearly 40 trailers a day (along with 10 frozen trailers a week) help ship the company’s products, made for several national brands, to establishments across 38 states, including Washington, Texas, and Maine. But they also stay true to their roots, delivering fresh bagels and bread to 50 local bakeries and shops.
Derecktor Shipyards started inside a dirt-floor building in Mamaroneck when Robert E. Derecktor decided to learn how to build wooden boots—with tools he made himself, no less—in 1947. The nearly 70 years since, the company has become a behemoth in the ship- and custom yacht-building industry, working on projects ranging from the 1987 America’s Cup-winning-boat to R/V Spirit of the Sound, a 65-foot catamaran for The Maritime Aquarium. As a custom boat builder, the company handles everything from conception to all structural, mechanical, and plumbing work—right down to the woodwork for furniture and cabinetry. In addition to boats, Derecktor also builds custom dry docks, like an 80-foot dock built for Billy Joel.
As one of the biggest firms to call Westchester home, it’s not surprising that Pepsi is conceiving, researching, designing, and developing a whole host of products in its Innovation Kitchen in Valhalla. Manned by its executive/corporate research chefs, the kitchen is dedicated to research and development, as well as brainstorming the company’s next big food and beverage creations. Recent Pepsi products created there include Pepsi True, a beverage sweetened with real sugar and stevia leaf extract that contains about 30 percent fewer calories than regular Pepsi; Doritos Loaded, a portable melted-cheese snack encrusted with crushed Doritos; Mountain Dew Solar Flare, the first exclusive Mountain Dew flavor for 7â€‘Eleven’s Big Gulp drinks; and Pepsi Spire (pictured), a new portfolio of fountain beverage dispensers that allow consumers to create more than 1,000 customized beverages at the touch of a button.
Its motto is “Bakers on a Mission,” and it lives up to it. Founded in 1982, Greyston Bakery in Yonkers doesn’t hire people to bake brownies—it bakes brownies to hire people. With its open-door hiring policy, the bakery offers training and jobs to “hard-to-employ” residents, including those with a criminal record or a history of drug use. Profits from the bakery, which cranks out a whopping 30,000 pounds of brownies daily, are reinvested into its operations and related programs, including low-income housing and childcare services for its employees; and housing and healthcare services for Yonkers residents living with HIV/AIDS. In 1988, Greyston became the exclusive brownie supplier for Ben & Jerry’s, with more than 300,000 pints of Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream sold in the popular flavor’s first decade alone. In 2012, Greyston celebrated another milestone, achieving $10 million in sales. And in its partnership with Whole Foods Market, one percent of the company’s revenue from brownie sales goes to a nonprofit established by Whole Foods to provide microloans to help lift people out of poverty in 57 countries.
Robert Doornick is living a childhood dream: building robots. When the CEO of International Robotics, Inc., started his company in the early 1970s, it specialized in producing interactive diagnostic, prescriptive, and remedial technologies for working with the learning disabled. Those technologies eventually led to Doornick building full-scale robots, which are partially assembled and fully maintained at the company’s Larchmont headquarters. The robots’ main function is to act as surrogate communications tools for the learning disabled, those with autism, and other special-needs individuals. The idea is to give students and patients the opportunity to rehearse interacting with real human beings without the stress and defense mechanisms usually associated with such an experience. In that same way, the company rents out and sells its robots (such as “Millennia,” above) to clients like Ford, the White House, and Microsoft to break the ice at trade shows and to give keynote addresses. You may also recognize the SAG-card holding Millennia from appearances in Rocky IV, Days of Our Lives, and MTV’s Punk’d.
Founded in a one-room office in Mount Kisco more than 50 years ago by a pair of ambitious engineers, Curtis Instruments now employees 1,000 people at its Westchester headquarters and around the world at far-flung outposts from Switzerland to India. The company produces programmable onboard instrumentation and battery monitors for electric vehicles—everything from golf carts and fork lifts to airport luggage carts and the tugs that pull airplanes across the tarmac. One of the company’s most celebrated achievements is the design and manufacture of key instrumentation for NASA’s Apollo missions—with Curtis products launched in 13 different lunar spacecraft modules, and its battery monitoring technology used in NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle. Curtis’ Mount Kisco HQ is the home of its primary engineering center, where many of its products are conceptualized and designed. “What distinguishes us is that we are an exporter,” explains Communications Director Frank Matheis. “We export our technology into China and India. They buy our products to put them into their vehicles. We are technology providers to the world.”
Ed Tiedge, who founded StillTheOne Distillery in 2008 after losing his second hedge-fund job in six months, likes to say that “the best time to make whiskey was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.” And he’s doing just that, making some of the finest whiskeys outside of Tennessee, right here in Port Chester. Well, he’s actually distilling three different whiskeys—287 Malt Whiskey, Westchester Wheat Whiskey, and No. 4 Rye Whiskey. Though Tiedge began by producing Comb Vodka and Comb 9 Gin (about 10 cases at a time; and he’s still making those spirits today), the whiskeys have become his highest seller. StillTheOne has grown 25 percent each year, and shipped 6,000 cases last year to about 800 stores across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, DC, Indiana, Illinois, and California.
For the past 25 years, Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc., has been churning train cars out of a 150,000-square-foot brick-faced building along the Yonkers waterfront. More than 2,500 cars—for Metro-North, the New York City Subway, and the Long Island Rail Road—have come out of that building. Recent projects include NYC Subway cars (the R188 for the 7 line); Metro-North cars (the M8, which runs on the New Haven Line); LIRR cars (the M9); and overhauling train cars that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PATH cars). While most of the cars are made in the company’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility, final assembly (fabrication of components, painting, installation, etc.), along with function testing (including break tests on the company’s quarter-mile test track outside), takes place in Yonkers.
Christina Aguilera and Rihanna both celebrated birthdays here. Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad (which included hits “Umbrella” and “Please Don’t Stop the Music”) was partially recorded and mixed here, as was Aguilera’s eponymous first album with hits like “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.” “Here” is The Loft Recording Studios in Bronxville, a former children’s film and theater center founded in 1968 and turned into a recording studio during the Reagan administration, when Al Hemberger took over the reins. Since, a veritable who’s who of the music scene—the likes of Rod Stewart, The Jonas Brothers, Ne-Yo, Britney Spears, and *NSYNC—has streamed through the doors (mixed with local talent as well) to record or produce their albums.
A marketing veteran of more than 20 years, Tarrytown resident Debra Holstein calls her 4:00 Cookie, which she launched in 2013, a true “curb-your-craving” snack—with hunger-satisfying (not exacerbating) ingredients like nuts, low-glycemic coconut flour, and whole grains. In addition to her Rye store and more than 25 retailers across New York and Connecticut, Holstein is gearing up to distribute 4:00 Cookie nationally in 2015.
Who needs McCormick Grill Mates when just $10 buys you five ounces of locally made stuff? Port Chester resident and private chef Jason Olensky’s dry rub company, Therein Lies the Rub, was founded in 2012 and sells eight inventive varieties, like Argentine Steak, Mexicali, and T-Bone’s Coffee. All use evaporated cane crystals in place of sugar, French Atlantic sea salt, and non-irradiated spices (that means they’re not exposed to radiation during the drying process as—sorry, one more thing to worry about—many spices are). Order it online or pick it up at Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets.
Port Chester micro-roaster Path Coffee Roasters was founded in 2013 by two coffee lovers: 30-something Jason Richter and 20-something Johnny Steverson. The duo makes high-end specialty coffee for upscale outlets (they roasted 500 lbs per week last year), like Restaurant North in Armonk and Dirty French and Carbone in Manhattan. Flavors are sourced from places like Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and El Salvador, then roasted to accentuate the unique flavor of each region’s bean. If fine dining isn’t your thing, order online or pick some up at Whole Foods Markets, DeCicco in Armonk, or Bedford Gourmet.
Irvington-based Penny Lick Ice Cream Company began with an old-fashioned refrigerated pink pushcart that owner Ellen Sledge wheeled into local farmers’ markets. The cart was the perfect complement to her old-school approach to making ice cream, which eschews fillers and stabilizers in favor of seasonal ingredients and a custard base. Today, she has four pushcarts trawling Westchester and the Hudson Valley, and she sold more than 5,200 pints of ice cream in 2014—nearly triple the amount she sold the year before.
ULIVjava, an herb- and green tea-infused line of coffee grounds made in Cross River is co-owned by Mary Tedesco, a personal trainer and co-owner of The Gym @ BodyFit in Cross River; Kathleen Schoen, a nutritionist; and…Martha Stewart. (Long story, but Tedesco has been Stewart’s personal trainer for 13 years, so she was able to get her on board.) ULIVjava is available online and at health food stores in the tri-state area, but it’s going national this spring to the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets. The company also produces a line of bottled iced coffees, which, unfortunately, are not made here.
Cathy Schauber started shopping her homemade Cathy’s Biscotti to local vendors in 2006, and was rarely turned away. She opened a White Plains commercial kitchen in 2008 to meet surging demand, and today she sells a line of 11 signature biscotti flavors (to the tune of 15,000 lbs last year), plus gluten-free flavors and muffins, scones, blondies, and more. Cathy’s Biscotti is sold in 60 area stores, mostly in Westchester.
While it doesn’t have the iconic sign that made the former Brooklyn factory a landmark, the Yonkers Domino Sugar plant has its own claim to fame: It produces 4 million pounds of sugar per day and more than 1 billion pounds per year. A continually operating sugar refinery since 1938, the plant began producing goods for Domino in 2001, and today makes a wide variety of retail products under the Domino Sugar brand name. The plant ships out everything from 1 lb boxes up to 45,000-pound bulk trucks and liquid tankers going to Domino’s industrial customers like Hershey, Ocean Spray, and food service companies. The Yonkers site’s access to the Hudson River (large ships can dock right behind the refinery so raw sugar can move directly from the ships to the warehouse) and proximity to the Northeast market make it crucial to the company, says Domino CEO Brian O’Malley.
Designing, producing, and installing custom storage solutions that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are practical, transFORM has been transforming people’s home and work lives in Westchester and beyond since its founding in 2005. With three showrooms (New Rochelle, Manhattan, and Brooklyn), transFORM manufactures its made-to-order furnishings at its 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art headquarters in New Rochelle. The company offers high-end closets and storage systems for every part of the home—from bedrooms and living spaces to pantries, garages, and home offices—all complemented by a variety of accessories ranging from lighted drawers, built-in hampers and jewelry drawers to safes and wall beds. TransFORM performs approximately 1,200 installations per year, and since 2005 has served more than 12,000 customers. From marketing to design to manufacturing to installation, everything is performed by a transFORM employee—an approach that “comes from a desire to be original and maintain quality control,” notes Marketing Director Donovan Malloy.
We’re constantly combing the county for businesses that may have evaded our radar, and even we were surprised to find out that Westchester is a hub for contact lens and eyeglass manufacturing and distribution. ABB Optical, the country’s largest distributor of optical products, operates one of four main distribution hubs in Hawthorne (in addition to those outside Boston; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Alameda, California). Hawthorne is also home to ABB’s 280-employee Digital Eye Lab, which custom-fabricates eyeglass lenses and installs them into the patients’ frames of choice for optometrists. These lenses are not just your ordinary pair—they’re high-end digital lenses, a relatively new variety of lens designed with advanced computer technology resulting in, according to Scott Pearl, managing director of the lab, “more precise optics and better visual quality for the wearer.” ABB, a private company with more than $1 billion in annual revenue (ABB also makes and distributes contact lenses, which accounts for the lion’s share of business), shipped more than 400,000 pairs of digital lenses last year.
Since his birth, the redheaded comic-book icon Archie Andrews has been associated with one location: Riverdale. If everyone knew the truth, though, they’d put him a little farther north. Archie Comics, with 30 full-time employees, is headquartered in an unassuming office building in Mamaroneck. (By “unassuming,” we mean “between a car-repair garage and a dump,” as Vanity Fair once described.) The business once operated out of an office on Church Street in Manhattan but, in 1985, they packed up and headed out to begin producing in the ’burbs. Now, Archie is enjoying his 75th anniversary, and looking better than ever. This year sees the debut of Archie #1 (with a new design for Mr. Andrews and his friends); the launch of an Archie-themed clothing line by Marc Ecko; and the development of Riverdale, a one-hour television series for FOX. One only hopes that the TV show will find an excuse to make it up to Mamaroneck for an episode.
Turns out the wood-paneled library didn’t die with the Gilded Age. It’s alive and well, and when Westchester, Greenwich, Manhattan, and North Jersey residents are in need of one, Mamaroneck-based Culin & Colella is their go-to husband-and-wife team. Ray Culin and Janis Colella were running separate woodworking shops when they met in 1984, and so when they married in 1987, merging was a no-brainer.
The pair makes way more than libraries—super-custom kitchen cabinetry (“We do everything custom, totally designed for the space,” says Colella); towering wood fireplace surrounds; built-in shelving and entertainment centers; and one-of-a-kind dining room tables. Over the years, their high-end woodwork, crafted by a 10-person team, has been showcased in Gourmet, House Beautiful, and Residential Architect, so it’s no surprise then that their work commands top dollar and runs anywhere from $20,000 for a built-in TV cabinet to upwards of $100,000 for a home library with all the fixings (fully paneled walls, moldings, and all the beads and burls you could ever want); kitchen cabinetry falls somewhere in between. They billed more than $1 million in projects last year.
Combining their passion for design and an “unyielding commitment to bringing conscientious quality manufacturing back to the United States,” husband-and-wife team Ann and Andrew Payne of Bedford launched their accessories company General Knot & Co in 2010 after years of directing creative teams for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Levi’s. The duo designs all of the company’s products—neckties, bowties, pocket squares, scarves, wallets, belts, and other leather goods—in Westchester; the pocket squares, bandanas, and scarves are produced here as well, while the rest of the line is manufactured in New England. Its signature vintage fabrics and unique designs have helped General Knot expand significantly since launching. In addition to its online store, it now sells to roughly 75 shops around the world.
Sarah Shatz/2014 Fox Broadcasting Co
If you were driving down Purchase Street in Rye last fall and you saw a police presence, a few trailers, and someone who you swear looked like Meryl Streep, you’re not crazy: The upcoming Jonathan Demme-directed Ricki and the Flash was being filmed inside Numi Hair Salon. The movie is set to hit theaters this June. But that’s just one of many possible star encounters you might have had in recent years, because Westchester has become something of a hot spot for the film industry. Most recently, parts of This is Where I Leave You—the 2014 comedic drama starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda—filmed in Port Chester; since 2013, Kevin Bacon’s Fox TV drama The Following (pictured above) has been filming all over the county, from Rye to Briarcliff; and CBS’ new drama Madam Secretary, starring Téa Leoni, filmed in White Plains last year. And other acclaimed and well-known TV series film here periodically: HBO’s Girls and Boardwalk Empire, Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, and NBC’s The Blacklist. And of course, there are filmed-in-Westchester blockbusters such as I Am Legend, the Will Smith-studded 2007 end-of-days thriller; 2013 Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street; and 1998’s Stepmom starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Nicole Zeller, who co-owns Mount Vernon’s Haven Studios, an approximately 42,500-square-foot stage that opened in 2013 and spent a year as the main stage for The Leftovers, an HBO series, says two factors draw the film industry to Westchester: location and tax incentives. Close proximity to the City means Westchester is within the sanctioned “film zone” (usually no more than 30 miles from Columbus Circle in Manhattan) for unionized film industry workers. And those who book Haven qualify for the New York State Film Tax Credit Program, which is more generous than most states. Whereas many states offer a 20- to 25-percent tax credit on qualified production expenses, New York’s credit is 30 percent.