When Josh Levin first joined his family’s small textile manufacturing business in Philadelphia, he was commuting from Brooklyn. As he became more involved in managing the daily operations of the company, it was clear that this arrangement needed to change. The search for a new location that would support the needs of the business while offering the quality of life Josh sought for his family brought them all to the Berkshires.
Josh says the Berkshires stood out as an option for a number of reasons. In particular, the lower cost of living and higher quality of life which is enhanced by the region’s dedication to the creative economy and the support of small businesses. This made it incredibly attractive compared with metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and New York City. “We don’t need, or want, to be in a major city,” he says, “and the Berkshires offer everything that we do want.”
The natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities in the Berkshires were another draws for the Levins. In fact, Josh’s parents, Dr. Howard and Judy Levin—who are also involved in the business—had been weekend visitors before moving to the Berkshires permanently. Josh recalls that when he had visited the area with his own family, he’d envision the possibilities of living here. When it came time to move the business, his wife suggested the Berkshires. The idea, says Josh, ‘just clicked’ for everyone.
“As a creative manufacturing and online business, we don’t require a location with heavy foot traffic like a storefront in an urban center might need,” says Josh. “Our biggest requirements are manufacturing space, the Internet for online ordering, and close proximity to shipping options.”
Josh found what he needed in the Berkshires. With assistance from the regional economic development organization, 1Berkshire, they were able to connect with other local creative economy and manufacturing businesses that helped him to build his own. The collaborative environment among small businesses here is another reason he chose the Berkshires. Small businesses feed off each other, support each other, and help each other grow, he says, and as more and more small companies come to the Berkshires “it’s creating a new marketplace and that helps everyone create jobs.”
Today, the Levins and their business are thriving in the Berkshires and they are an integral part of our creative economy. They are continuing the legacy of the company’s co-founders, Josh’s sister Rachel and her friend Robin Miller. These two entrepreneurs recognized the need for attractive, comfortable compression garments worn for lymphedema, a swelling of the extremities that each had developed as a side effect of their treatments for breast cancer. With the help of a fashion designer friend, Rachel and Robin created a line of beautiful, machine-knitted designs that address the requirements of compression garments while also providing something stylish & pretty that helps breast cancer survivors feel empowered. They named the company LympheDIVAs.
Robin left the company in 2007 and soon after, Rachel’s cancer returned. She died in 2008, after building the business and requesting that her parents continue running it after her death. Josh came onboard in 2010 and has helped grow the company into an international success.
Josh notes that a common thread among Berkshire entrepreneurs is the desire to make a difference. What that looks like has different meaning across industries and demographics, he says. For LympheDIVAs, that means helping to inspire women to look and feel their best. As an extension of that mission, LympheDIVAs supports several nonprofit organizations that raise cancer awareness and provide a supportive community for women with a breast cancer diagnosis by donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of their products.
“We get letters and emails all the time from our customers, telling us that LympheDIVAs is making a huge difference in women’s lives,” says Josh. “That’s what mattered most to Rachel and is why we do what we do. We are so happy to carry on her legacy as we make an impact right here in the Berkshires.”