August 23, 2018
Class of 2018: Behind the scenes

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

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."

Photo | Erika Sidor
One of the lifelong dreams for Mark A. Borenstein (from right) was to get his picture taken with Finz.

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.

Photo | Erika Sidor
Taking pictures of airborne shirts while still having everyone facing the camera turned out to be a too-complicated task.

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.

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