As the daughter of a Gloucester fisherman, it wasn’t too much of a reach for Enza Iacono to launch a business called Lobster Trap Gifts.
Working in her garage and selling her work online, Iacono, 45, turns brightly colored, coated wire trap material into all sorts of nautical decor — from wine bottle totes to salt-and-pepper shakers.
Since she started her business, however, Iacono’s range has expanded. Now she sells hats emblazoned with a variety of ocean-related subjects, such as her trademark red lobster. She also sells other merchandise, such as key chains, sail bags, dog collars and even personal protective equipment masks with a red lobster on the front.
Last year, she offered a product that held much more meaning to her and her family — T-shirts with pink lobsters on them.
Her mother, Anna Sanfilippo, 78, is a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed with the disease in 2002, she was treated at Lahey Health Cancer Institute in Burlington. She underwent a mastectomy and has been cancer-free ever since.
But the experience made a big impact on Iacono, her five older brothers and her father, retired fisherman Nick Sanfilippo.
“It was a tough time,” Iacono said. “I wish I could have put myself in her shoes. It was awful.”
Iacono said her mother and father went to Florida earlier that winter. When she had a mammogram, Iacono said, “that’s when they saw it. She thought she was fine, but when she came home, she wasn’t fine. She had a lumpectomy first, then a mastectomy.”
Much of the caregiving fell to Iacono.
“As the only girl in the family, I had to help out,” she said.
As with her other products, the breast cancer awareness T-shirts feature lobsters. But instead of just one lobster, two strategically placed pink crustaceans adorn the front of these Ts.
Under the lobsters, in big, pink letters, are the words “BITE CANCER,” followed by a pink ribbon.
“Our pink lobsters don’t just want to fight cancer, they want to bite it and destroy it once and for all,” Iacono says on her website. “Let’s keep fighting to find a cure.”
Iacono sells the shirts for $20 each, with all proceeds going to the Lahey Health Cancer Institute, which Iacono praises for its excellent care of her mother.
While she sold only a handful of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Tata T-shirts last year, Iacono hopes this year to generate more attention for them and the cause they support.
But she’s also quite generous with the T-shirts.
“If I hear of someone who has breast cancer, I give it to them, or mail it to them, to help them smile in a hard time,” Iacono said. “Anything I can do to uplift their spirits.”
For more information on Lobster Trap Gifts’ breast cancer awareness shirts, check out lobstertrapgifts.com.