How One Rhode Islander is Having a Lightbulb Moment

Melanie Jackson of Cranston is lighting up a dark time with (literal) signs of hope

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Marquee signs are nearly as old as electricity, but they still make us gaze in wonder. Just ask Melanie Jackson: When she got married last September, she spelled out the word “love” in four-foot letters studded with lightbulbs.

“They were the ‘it’ thing of our wedding,” Jackson recalls. “People still talk about them to this day. I knew I wanted to bring that same kind of happiness and ‘it’ factor to others, no matter what the occasion.”

The result is It'sLit a marquee signage company that Jackson started earlier this year. If you’re still using a calendar, you may shudder at the thought of founding any kind of small enterprise in March, 2020.

“I started my business right before the pandemic hit,” says Jackson. “I am a hobby woodworker when I’m not working my day job, so I knew I would be able to make my vision become a reality.”

Instead of bemoaning the strange timing, Jackson found purpose in the pandemic. She created the four letters spelling “hope” and started to photograph them around local landmarks: the State House, Hasbro headquarters, and the Newport Bridge, among others. She then started to post the series on Instagram. For this native Rhode Islander, “hope” isn’t just a nice word; it’s a deliberate reference to the state flag.

“I took it as a sign that maybe this is exactly what everyone needs, especially at a time like this,” says Jackson. “Since I had just started my business I didn’t have any inventory – letters – so I started to build them.  I figured, if for nothing else, I could take my letters around, spread a little hope and happiness, just like the 'love' letters did at my wedding.”

Jackson and her husband live in Garden City, and she decided to pose the first shot there. During walks with their dog, she would brainstorm additional shooting locations. 

Despite the global quarantine, Jackson is upbeat about her business prospects. The letters are novel and bright, and she expects to decorate a range of events, from weddings and bar mitzvahs to corporate events and gender-reveal parties. Until then, she plans to spread a little more hope on social media.

“I’m not sure how many other places we will go,” she says, “but all I know is that seeing the positive reaction and having people reach out to tell me it’s brightened their days keeps me wanting to continue to make this impact.”

To find out more about It'sLit, email itslitri@gmail.com

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