Aspen’s Entrepreneurial Gold Rush

The latest crop of Rocky Mountain shops and boîtes, from breakthrough local artisans.
The Aspen Hive owner Cynthia Jankowski. Photo: Brittany Harvey

By Ali Margo

Despite its remote location deep in the Rockies, Aspen’s retail and restaurant scene rivals any major city with its veritable Madison Avenue in the mountains. In a sea of major luxury retailers, these next-gen entrepreneurs aim to bring much-needed goods and services to the community.

The Aspen Hive

If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough that doesn’t break the bank, head over to The Aspen Hive, where owner Cynthia Jankowski, 39, has created a bespoke showcase for female jewelry designers. “When women work together, we make each other stronger, just like female bees who build the hive,” she says. A longtime Aspen local who lucked out snagging a space in a historical building on the Cooper Street Mall, Jankowski hopes to bring back downtown Aspen’s small-town local feeling and charm. She currently features female goldsmiths and women designers from the U.S. who work primarily with diamonds, semiprecious stones and gold, with average price points from $300-$2,500. 429 E. Cooper St., 970.925.2128,

The Gift Box. Photo courtesy of The Gift Box

The Gift Box

Lifelong friends and business partners Wesley Jacobs and Britta Briscoe, 35, grew up in Aspen and understood the need for The Gift Box, a showroom of carefully curated gifts. “We are two local girls who know how to procure the kinds of products you can’t find anywhere else in town,” says Jacobs. That includes a one-of-a-kind apparel line designed by Briscoe, and as well as mountain-specific “altitude kits” that can be purchased a la carte. “It’s fun. It’s desirable, it’s a little edgy,” says Jacobs. “Our young creative minds offer a fresh take to modern gifting.” 465 N. Mill St., Suite 18,,

Caroline Brothers, co-founder of Ash + Gold. Photo: Chandler Kim

Ash + Gold

A first of its kind in the Roaring Fork Valley, Ash + Gold salon offers nontoxic clean beauty, bringing an upscale, luxury vibe to Main Street in downtown Carbondale. Founded by Colorado denizen Caroline Brothers, 37, and her wife, Sam Bertolino, Ash + Gold is expanding its salons from Denver and Vermont to the Roaring Fork Valley. “We wanted to create an inclusive, beautiful space with a balance between masculine and feminine energies,” says Brothers. “We strive to provide a level of luxury you’d expect to find in Aspen in the mid valley.” 320 Main St., No. 102, Carbondale,

Stranahan’s Whiskey Lodge will make its debut this winter. Photo courtesy of Stranahan’s

Stranahan’s Whiskey Lodge

Life came full circle for Max Ben-Hamoo, 37, when he stepped into the role of general manager for an Aspen legacy brand’s first flagship whiskey-tasting lodge and restaurant. “This is a real homecoming for the Stranahan’s whiskey brand, which was born and raised in Woody Creek,” he says. It’s also a homecoming for Ben-Hamoo, who grew up in Aspen, and whose father, Shlomo, opened an eponymous Jewish deli at the base of Aspen Mountain some 40 years ago. “It feels very serendipitous, very fitting that I come home to Aspen seeking new ways to find my place in the community, and it happened to find me,” he says. “It feels good.” 307 S. Mill St.,