Thanks to the unique, but equally creative businesses Susan and Emily Jablon have created, life for these local artists is a little more vibrant here in Broome.
The legacy of this mother and daughter duo started with Susan Jablon’s business, Susan Jablon Mosaics, an internet WBE founded in 2002, that sells custom and bold glass mosaic tiles to clients nationwide.
“I’m compelled by color. We sell color in a sense. We work with our online customers to conceptualize, design and hand-create exactly what mosaics they want for their project – whether commercial, residential or public,” Susan Jablon said.
Originally from Buffalo, Jablon moved to Broome County in 1974 to live with a friend and make some extra money before moving to Colorado.
“I got a job at Philly Sales in the toy department, which was where I met my husband, who was the owner. Needless to say, I never made it to Colorado,” said Jablon.
That job was the first of many local positions Jablon would hold before opening her business. The most prominent of these positions include running Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital’s Personnel Department, handling Security Mutual Life Insurance Company’s sales promotions and running the local Barnes & Noble for 9 years.
“Each of those positions taught me how to be entrepreneurial in some way, but I’m an artist at heart,” Jablon began.
This natural creativity and the milestone of turning 50, is what prompted Susan Jablon to start her business.
“There’s something very dynamic about turning 50 – you just have to do what’s in your heart. When I turned 50, I knew I needed to have that freedom in my day-to-day life so I left my job and opened a school to teach adults how to rekindle their creativity. Within 6 months, I had about 300 students,” she went on.
After her students used up all the “eccentric materials” she had, Jablon ended up importing glass mosaic tiles in bulk from China.
Wanting to support American-made products though – combined with the fact that she now had more mosaic glass tiles than she knew what to do with – Jablon had a thought to open a business selling handcrafted mosaic tiles herself.
This thought gave birth to Susan Jablon Mosaics, which has exploded online, initially selling their unique products on their website only, but eventually expanding to Amazon, Houzz and Wayfair where they’ve reached a vast array of local and national clients.
Some of Jablon’s most notable clients include award-winning singer Carly Simon and Kim Zolciak-Biermann of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Jablon’s mosaics have also made an appearance in the movie Men in Black 3.
The renown of Jablon’s products can be attributed to the company’s consistency – delivering beautiful, quality, customized products to their customers every day. This is why Susan relies so heavily on client testimonials as the foundation of her marketing efforts.
“The customer experience and testimonials are the way I sell my product. We just do our best to be as helpful and thoughtful to our customers as possible – it’s been that way since the beginning. That’s what built our business,” said Jablon.
No success is wrought without overcoming some hardships though. For Susan Jablon Mosaics, that came in the shape of the 2011 flood.
“We were completely flooded, completely destroyed. We sent $300,000 worth of tile to the dump,” Jablon said matter-of-factly.
“My staff pulling together and working through the flood was amazing though, and we managed to rescue a $65,000 project for a casino and get it shipped before any major damage occurred to the warehouse. Getting through that was a very bittersweet, but powerful experience,” she went on.
Despite having to build the company back up after the flood and her national acclaim, Susan Jablon will always be thankful to the area that gave her business its start, where each unique Jablon mosaic tile is created.
“My business was born and raised in Broome County and that’s why I was able to do it. I was able to afford the 37,000 sq-ft warehouse we’re in now to build this company. I couldn’t have done that anywhere else,” said Jablon.
While Susan’s national brand is rooted locally, with eleven employees working out of their Alice Street warehouse, her daughter Emily’s business, Jablon Studios, is hyperlocal. Emily also sells products nationally, but its immediate impact can be seen all over Broome.
Jablon Studios, also located on Alice Street, is a business with an emphasis on innovation, transformation and creativity.
“Everything with Jablon Studios started at the grassroots level, with me selling my own mosaic products at events around Binghamton about five years ago,” said Emily Jablon.
Over time, Jablon Studios took off evolving into a multi-faceted company offering everything from hands-on classes, birthday parties, and fundraisers, to create your own mosaic masterpieces, such as wind chimes, wine bottles and jewelry.
Emily also sells pre-made and customized mosaic products ready for sale from her studio, at Tesorina Boutique on Chenango Street and on Etsy, which has seen over 500 sales since the company foundation.
“Everything we make or that a customer can make at Jablon Studios is totally repurposed. It’s funny, but buckets of garbage have huge value for us given what we do. Everything here is D-I-Y. Everything here has a purpose,” Jablon said.
You can find the company’s work at establishments throughout Broome including a special project she did at the Binghamton Housing Authority in partnership with Binghamton University students through the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars Program.
One of the most notable operations of Jablon Studios though is a summer program, known as “Mosaic Mafia,” offering committed high school students the opportunity to participate in a 6-week program to create, design and install a public mosaic project to beautify our area.
“It all started when I was volunteering at Columbus School. When the kids were well-behaved, we would reward them by letting them mosaic. The kids and I dubbed ourselves ‘Club Bling.’ It turned into what I’m currently doing with local high school kids in our Mosaic Mafia summer program,” said Jablon.
Whether you’re driving or walking through Binghamton, it’s easy to spot many of the public projects Emily and her students have created and installed, helping to enhance our community, such as the “Be Inspired. Be Binghamton.” mural downtown.
This past summer, Columbus Park was the Mosaic Mafia’s canvas, transforming and brightening up this kids’ play space with a one-of-a-kind, repurposed mosaic mural.
Though she’s achieved national success like her mother, giving back to Broome through supporting our local arts community, as well as seeing the positive impact on the students who participate in this program gives Emily a deep sense of fulfillment.
“It’s amazing to see the impact these projects have on the kids who participate, especially to see them start thinking like a team. After a few weeks, they’ll start really caring about and utilizing each other, looking for ways to make things easier for us. I hope to keep going in that route. I think it’s a program that can really expand,” Jablon said.
Susan Jablon Mosaics and Jablon Studios are part of why #Broomeisgood and the #MadeinBroome program.