19 Jun The Inside Scoop on Jersey Ice Cream Company

Amy Nercessian, our Creative Director gets the inside scoop on Jersey Ice Cream Co.  

Here’s what she had to say: 

For full disclosure, I met Tara Mangini in college. We were two wide-eyed visual communications majors with a love for design in all its forms. While perusing Instagram, I stumbled upon Jersey Ice Cream Co., and no, they do not sell ice cream as one would initially suspect! They are unconventional home renovators. With a process unique to them, the couple lives within (or near) the homes they revamp for the duration of the project. They soak in the energy of the house, as if the walls are calling out them, guiding them through the design.

Scrolling through their feed, I recognized Tara right away. We hadn’t spoken since her graduation (the year before mine), but after 10 years of limited interaction on Facebook, I sat down to spend over an hour on the phone catching up with the woman behind Jersey Ice Cream Co.

In a conversation as candid as it was inspiring, I asked Tara, How did you do it?  It just seems too perfect.  Did you really just quit your job, meet the guy and dream up a company together after only a few weeks of dating? Sort of.

With a story that seems part divine intervention, part creative ass-kicking, Percy Bright and Tara Mangini are a design duo not to be missed.

Tara’s first job out of college was in Advertising. And quite frankly, she hated it. In a moment of liberation, Tara abandoned her job, and traveled across the country, until a lack of funds brought her back to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Percy Bright, her future boyfriend AND future business partner had been laid off from another unfulfilling job in advertising. As with Tara, picking up and leaving was not an option for him. He had just closed on a new home. As fate would have it, the home would become their first project.

After a few weeks of dating, the two found themselves at the Brimfield Antiques Show. And as they describe it, “Two kids in love found an old embossing stamp at a flea market, dreamed up a design empire, and then set to work trying to create it.”

Together they designed Percy’s home, had it photographed, which landed them on DesignSponge. And just like that they had completed their first project.

Seven years later, here is what Tara had to say about interiors, curiosity and ice cream…

AN: How would you describe your own personal style?
TM: I get asked this all the time and honestly, I have no idea! For each project Percy and I tackle, we aim for it to be functional and timeless. To me, trendy feels dangerous. Each project is a clean slate; every house is so different.

AN: Have you always been fascinated with antiques/vintage finds and the impact they have on design?
TM: I have a love for nostalgia and thriftiness – using flea market finds started from necessity, but the more work we do, the more I want everything to be old.

AN: What do you believe makes reusing someone’s “stuff” so fulfilling?
TM: Adds character to the design. I like finding things that no one else wants to buy— seeing the potential in a piece that otherwise might be overlooked

AN: Is there anything you are currently on the hunt for one of your projects?
TM: Lots. We’re currently furnishing 4 houses. Anyone have a great antique sideboard or bed?

AN: What is your favorite thing that you have picked up along the way?  Are there ever pieces you purchase for a project and decide you just can’t part with? If so, what?
TM: I think the portraits we’ve found for various projects are a favorite. We found this brass nutcracker of lady legs; we’re keeping those! 

AN: What is your design process during a renovation?
TM: It is definitely chaotic, an ever-evolving process. — We move in, feel it out, share mood boards, and after a couple of days we begin our renovation in the room where we feel the most comfortable. As our company has grown, we’ve gotten a bit more buttoned up, but its still 75% gut feeling.

AN: What is your favorite project in your vast portfolio and why?
TM: “Magic Egg” house in the Catskills. Great house, supercool clients, They were up for anything and trusted us. It lived up to their vision, and ours. We returned to the property to renovate the guesthouse.

AN: Your process is unique as you live in or nearby the space you are designing, why has this become such an important part of your process.
TM: Feeling out the house is one of the most important steps in our process. It is the way we operate and it just works for us. I think it is what makes us better designers.

AN: Aside from the obvious, what makes you different from the traditional designer?
TM: We have taken a different path than most traditional designers. Learning as we go, we built our business on our process. Embracing not only the history, but also the character and energy of the spaces we work on.

AN: How does curiosity drive you?
TM: I constantly find myself asking “what if we did this, is that crazy?!”, “What’s under that?”, and “What lives behind that wall?”. These questions are what drives Percy and I to try new things. It fuels the hunt for cool, unique items that will eventually live in someone’s home.

AN: What is your favorite curiosity shop?
TM: The answer is probably pretty obvious. Brimfield.

AN: We know you don’t sell ice cream, but you must have a favorite flavor?
TM: We do find ourselves eating a lot of mint chocolate chip!

Tara and Percy have come such a long way from where they started. From down on their luck to traveling all over, living in a variety of different places, and successfully designing a wide range of spaces. A thriving design company, crafted from a seal and a little curiosity.

To all of the trailblazers out there…stay fearless, stay curious.

You can keep up on everything Jersey Ice Cream Co. on their website, jerseyicecreamco.com, and on their Instagram, @jerseyicecreamco.

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