Meet Bettsie Park and Ken Jupiter at 15 STEPS
In Downtown Ithaca, there’s no shortage of specialty shops carrying high quality, locally crafted goods. Among the community’s top sellers of exquisitely crafted wares made by highly skilled artisans are Bettsie Park and Ken Jupiter, founders and owners of 15 STEPS, a craft and gift shop that is cherished by the community.
The business partners are originally from different parts of New York and found themselves in Ithaca for varied reasons. Park grew up in Sterling and Jupiter was raised in Brooklyn. Park discovered Ithaca while visiting a nearby community for a party and Jupiter attended the Masters in Urban Planning and Development program at Cornell University in Collegetown, but the two found common ground as craftspeople.
Park, an experienced fiber artist, and Jupiter, a highly skilled woodworker, combined their studios in the early 1980s to create 15 STEPS. Their brick and mortar site allows them to connect with their customers through face to face interactions.
“We like making real connections with our customers. Unlike online shopping, face to face interactions builds community. We like finding out who people are as we help them find gifts or make purchases that mark the important events in their lives,” says Park.
Plus, the business partners say having a downtown location allows them to enjoy the excellent cuisine available at more than 50 fantastic dining spots located within walking distance of their shop.
15 STEPS is a favorite with both locals and visitors alike. It is known throughout the region for its collections of extraordinary handmade jewelry and American made crafts. The store carries collections from more than 170 artisans and features personal care products and a delicious variety of locally made chocolates.
Though Park’s and Jupiter’s claim to local fame came mainly from helping local artisans by selling their quality, handmade wares at their store and by assisting customers with locating fantastic gifts, the business partners are also known for giving back to the community.
The gift shop is a corporate sponsor for Hospicare’s Women Swimming and it holds annual fundraisers for the SPCA and the Ithaca Health Alliance/Free Clinic. In addition to these major ongoing efforts, it contributes to numerous other not-for-profits’ fundraisers.
To learn more about Bettsie, Ken and 15 Steps visit the store at 171 E. State St., Center Ithaca, in the heart the Commons, downtown’s pedestrian mall. You can also check out the shop online at www.fifteensteps.com.