Downeast was founded in 1975 by Rick Winslow in Ogunquit, Maine. The company evolved from a hobby to a job to an obsession. Originally trading in turquoise, coral, heishe beads, silver, and stone, mostly out of the trunk of a Volkswagen bug, Downeast slowly transformed from a wholesaler of semi-precious stones, pearls, and findings to an importer of jewelry chains from Italy and Germany that are made in their factories.