Bob Persons ’48 & Meryl Gabeler ’10
Bob Persons ’48
When Bob Persons began building a model ship in 1986, he never imagined it would take a quarter-century to complete. “I just worked on it in my workshop in the basement,” Persons says. “Nobody bothers me down there.” The retired forensic engineer estimates that he spent well over 10,000 hours on the model of the 1799 frigate Essex, a U.S. Navy warship. The model was on display at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum last summer as part of an exhibit on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Persons first got into modelbuilding in 1949, a year after graduating from Cornell through the Navy’s V-12 program. He researched the Essex’s original construction methods to build the model—for example, using wooden nails known as “trunnels”— but also employed some modern techniques. He sculpted the thirtyeight crewmembers from acrylic after his dentist gave him lessons on using the material, common in temporary crowns and fillings. For the sails he used Tricot, a fabric usually found in lingerie and wedding dresses, which he sprayed with white paint. “I figured I wanted something real transparent and light,” says Persons, who lives on Long Island.
The Essex is the first ship model that Persons has built—he has also done cars and airplanes— and the third he’s made without a kit. How did it feel to finally finish the project? “Relief,” he says. “Ultimate relief.”
Meryl Gabeler ’10
Meryl Gabeler has always loved beauty products. But growing up with sensitive skin, she wasn’t able to fully enjoy them. So during her senior year at Cornell, the veteran entrepreneur—who’d run smoothie stands and car washes as a child—cofounded Anjolie Ayurveda, an organic skin-care line focusing on aromatherapy, fair trade, and environmentally sustainable business practices.
The company’s products—which Gabeler puts in the category of “mid-level luxury”—are made from organic herbs and flowers grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Available online and at more than 120 retail stores, including Whole Foods, the products are formulated using the ancient Indian medicinal practices of ayurveda; they range from sweet lime cardamom soap ($10 for a 150-gram bar) to sandalwood saffron body butter ($18 for a 60-milliliter jar) to lavender hair elixir ($24 for a 110-milliliter bottle). “Ayurvedic herbs are healing, therapeutic, and gentle on sensitive skin,” says Gabeler, who majored in communication and minored in applied economics and management. “I personally want to use something that doesn’t have a lot of chemical additives. It has been important to me to keep the ingredients simple and easily identifiable, like sweet almond oil.”
Gabeler (whose middle name is “Anjolee”) founded Anjolie Ayurveda with her mother. She stresses that the company, based in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, has a social mission, promoting fair trade and sustainability. Its products are handmade at a woman-owned facility in India, with those ingredients not sourced from the company’s own fields bought directly from farmers. “There is such poverty there at levels we can’t even comprehend,” Gabeler says, adding that rather than maximizing profits, “it is more important to us to pay a higher price and allow the farmers to have fair wages.”
The brand has been featured in Oprah magazine, which called it “low-key and committed to ensuring that their beauty company gives back.” The online home décor magazine Lonny named Anjolie Ayurveda to its list of “ten companies that give back globally,” and its aroma – therapy body butter was named best new product in the natural/organic category at the 2012 New York International Gift Fair. “People love our soaps and can’t believe they’re so richly scented with no added chemical fragrances, because we use a high level of essential oils,” Gabeler says. “I have people tell me they never want to use another soap again.”