40 Under Forty: The T-shirt Wars of Worcester Wares

BY Brad Kane

Photo | Erika Sidor
Photo | Erika Sidor
40 Under Forty winners and Team Worcester Wares (from left) Jennifer Caron, Jared E. Gentilucci, Jessica Morris and Mark A. Borenstein.

Apparently, Worcester Wares founder Jessica Walsh has always dreamed about having a T-shirt fight in her store filled with every degree of Worcester merchandise. It was on her bucket list, even.
Walsh was already the most enthusiastic host among the 10 locations for this year’s WBJ 40 Under Forty shoots. So, when I asked her the night before, if we could trash her store and drop the many colorful T-shirts from the ceiling, she responded, “That’s super fun! … It’s worth it, go big or go home.”

The four 40 Under Forty winners featured in the Worcester Wares shoot – Jessica Morris, Jared E. Gentilucci, Jennifer Caron and Mark A. Borenstein – had already done a ton of prep work. They reached out to the person responsible for maintaining the mascot costumes for the Worcester Railers and old Worcester Sharks, and they asked Walsh to specially make T-shirts with “New Worcester” and “Old Worcester” emblazoned on them, with the colors of the Railer’s Trax and Shark’s Finz.
The problem, though, was me. Photographer Erika Sidor and I were running late from the previous photo shoot at the Worcester Arts Magnet School, and the clock was ticking as Team Worcester Wares team had a hard stop at 12:20 p.m. Compounding the problem was the Worcester Railers marketing department was not initially informed of the plan to use Trax in the photos, so the hockey team wanted assurances we weren’t going to compromise its brand.

Once the photo shoot started, though, everything came together. Trax and Finz were the perfect compliment to Team Worcester Wares’ plans, especially after we brought out the T-shirts Walsh had specially made. Borenstein and Gentilucci looked like Clark Kent bursting into his Superman costume, while Morris and Caron were game for the crazed nature of the shoot, still managing to look graceful and professional.

And we had Worcester T-shirts everywhere. Red, green, orange, blue, yellow, purple. The Worcester Wares signature colorful shirts were on the walls, on the floor, on the tables, in the air, hanging off the winners’ faces and clothing. Walsh and I were dropping them from above the winners as Morris, Gentilucci, Caron and Borenstein tossed them in the air. Later, they threw them back and forth to the timing of Sidor’s camera, hoping to get that perfect shot.

Unfortunately, in that chaotic atmosphere, getting the right photo where all the winners were facing the camera and not having a T-shirt covering their face was a task too tall to handle. The Great Worcester Wares T-shirt War ended in detente, without the perfect photo to encapsulate the joy of being a Worcester professional in 2018. Still, it was a blast.
Afterward, Walsh & I had a mini T-shirt fight, throwing the store’s merchandise at each other for what felt like 30 seconds. It was short and also ended in a tie, but Walsh has crossed it off her bucket list.

Read about the entire 2018 Class of 40 Under Forty
Michael Alden - Ascentria Care Alliance
Che Anderson - City of Worcester
Victor M. Archila - VMA Electric Inc.
Allison Beckler, DO - YOU, Inc.
Sam Bitar - Webster Five
Mark A. Borenstein - Seder & Chandler LLP
Kate D. Campanale - Massachusetts House of Representatives
Derek Canton - paerpay
Ryan Canuel - Petricore, Inc.
Jennifer Caron - Body Therapeutics
Danielle J. Clark - Clark Career Coaching
Heidi Cooper - Cooper’s Hilltop Farm
Matthew M. Copeland, P.E. - Copeland Building Envelope Consulting
Pat Davis - The DAVIS Cos.
Efua T. Dufu, MSW, LCSW - Ellite Event Planning
Grace Elton - Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Ursula Furi-Perry, J.D. - Becker College
Jared E. Gentilucci - Nitsch Engineering
David Gilchrist, MD, MBA - UMass Memorial Health Care
Alvara Gjylapi - Santander Bank
Erica Grinkis - The GazBar Sports Grill
Meredith Harris - Marlborough Economic Development Corp.
Erin Jansky - Worcester Housing Authority
Ben Jones - Boston Scientific Corp
Alexis Kelleher - Crust Bakeshop; North Main Provisions
Bert LaValley - Sustainable Comfort, Inc.; deadhorse hill & simjang restaurants
Jennifer Leger - Fidelity Bank
Brian Lemerise - Quiet Logistics, Inc.
Tom Lubelczyk - The Worcester Jazz Collective
Laura Marotta - Creative Hub Worcester
Ryan Matson - Small Business Insurance Agency
Michael P. McDonough, CPA - McDonough, McDonough & Corsini, LLP
Madeline Mendoza - NewVue Communities
Jessica Morris - MCPHS University
Nathan Oriol - Oakdale Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center (Oriol Health Care)
Nicholas Pelletier - Pelletier Properties at Keller Williams North Central
Courtney E. Pelley - Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
Lilian Radke - Unic Pro Inc.
Blaine Schnare - Harrington HealthCare System
Bonnie J. Walker - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Learn how the winners were picked on our judges' page.