Jessica Griffith at work in her Nantucket family home. Photo by Adrianna Glaviano
Our families love Backgammon. The board game of strategy and skill, which has been played for thousands of years, is a timeless favorite for players young and old on beaches, the slopes, poolside and in family dens and libraries. Chic players across the globe were most famously captured by Slim Aarons in the 1970s . And today Backgammon is having another major moment thanks to Instagram and entrepreneur and creative Jessica Griffith. The Nantucket resident founded Nine Fair Backgammon in 2015 after several years working in Manhattan in private equity. Her custom made boards, featuring hand painted designs of club crests, college and prep school crests, vacation destinations, monograms or your favorite motif, are the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries and other important milestones. One of our clients recently ordered a board for her husband's Fiftieth Birthday with the crest of their Lake House. Read on to learn more about this inspiring small business....
We love your inventive hand painted images. Is your background in art? What inspired you to create custom backgammon boards?
Thank you! I studied History and Art History at Hamilton College and spent my summers interning at Christie’s. My first job out of college was at Sotheby’s in New York. My parents are collectors of Bucks County impressionist artists so I have always been surrounded and in love with the art world. It was during my career at private equity firm that I realized how much I missed my creative side. After seeing a one of a kind backgammon board in Harbor Island, I took a leap of faith and launched Nine Fair to bring hand painted backgammon boards to the market.
A Nantucket Basket themed board.
Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?
From a business perspective, my dad and fiancé are my greatest mentors. My dad started his own company when he and my mom were just starting our family. He faced a lot of difficulties, persevered and ended up being a huge success. My fiancé, John, works in leverage finance so he is constantly analyzing companies and figuring out their strengths and weaknesses. He has many suggestions for how I can improve and grow my business. Last, but certainly not least, my mom is maybe my greatest mentor. She is extremely discerning and has impeccable taste!
What are your favorite aspects of running Nine Fair? What are your least favorite aspects?
My favorite aspects are working with clients to create one of a kind pieces that will last a lifetime. I view Nine Fair as more than a company that creates attractive game boards - I believe they are timeless works of art and I love making a client’s vision come to life. Managing my expenses and taxes are definitely my least favorite aspect!
How would you like to see your business grow in the next three years?
Most of my clients come to Nine Fair for wedding presents or hostess gifts. In terms of expansion, I would love continue offering customizable products. I think there is something very special and thoughtful about our boards that says “I picked this out especially for you” not, “I was in a bind so here’s a nice candle” and I want to keep that going!
Whom do you count among your favorite style icons, whether it be in Interiors, textiles or fashion?
Interiors and textiles Carrie Griffith and Bunny Mellon. I love classic and traditional design! As for fashion, Lauren Santo Domingo cannot be beat.
The Board created for Gray Antiques inspired by the topiaries of the iconic Bunny Mellon. The board is available to purchase on our online shop.
Four Favorites....what is your favorite.......
Room of all time? The library of my family home on Nantucket
Place to play Backgammon? Our porch on Nantucket
Film? Something’s Gotta Give
Vacation/Destination? I would say Nantucket, but I don’t want to be that predictable! Recent favorites include Millbrook, NY and Dorset, VT.