Breaking up is hard to do — especially when your ex took most of your stuff.
Enter the divorce registry. Two new companies — Fresh Starts Registry and Divorcist — have sprung up to help recent divorcees put their lives back together one blender at a time. At a moment when the notion of a registry has expanded beyond weddings and baby showers to everything from getting a puppy to Galentine’s Day, these sites want to normalize, and streamline, the process of restocking a home after it’s split apart.
“There’s no place that celebrates these big life changes. We tend to celebrate babies and weddings, but not everything else in between,” Fresh Starts Registry founder Olivia Dreizen Howell told The Post. She believes that we’re looking at divorce all wrong, and that getting out of a bad marriage should be fêted, not frowned upon. She’s hoping her business will help with that reframing.
‘Someone takes half your kitchen items’
A Long Island mom of two, Howell said her own divorce last year, after eight years of marriage, was “a good thing.” But, when she and her ex-husband split up, there was just one thing missing: a toothbrush holder.
“I only had the one I shared with my ex,” the 36-year-old said, adding that finally buying a new toothbrush-holder-for-one felt downright liberating. “It was such a pivotal moment. I thought, ‘Why isn’t there a place that people can go and get product recommendations and celebrate this change, while bringing their community in?’”
She and co-founder Genevieve Dreizen, who ended an engagement in 2020, launched Fresh Starts in October 2021. The site is a landing spot not just for those seeking gifts, but also those in need of divorce-related recommendations. “How does one find a new therapist, divorce lawyer, or mortgage lender?” the site prompts, while pointing users toward those very vendors, along with clothing options and style coaches.
“It’s so overwhelming to go through a divorce,” said Howell, who has a background in social media marketing. “And on top of that, someone takes half your kitchen items and you have to rebuild it by yourself.”
Divorcist — which is currently in soft launch phase and will debut its gift registry in February — has a similar vibe.
“Our mission is to make divorce and separation dignified,” said married co-founder, Eliza Cussen, an Aussie who now lives in Wisconsin. “We really saw the need… Women get the concept immediately — we’re trying to elevate divorce, separation and breakups to the same status as a life event. Not a happy one, but one that deserves recognition.”
Co-founder Elizabeth Paulson, who is twice-divorced and the author of the book, “98 Ways to Find a Great Guy,” told The Post that the new site is all about “answers and solutions.”
“There’s no perfect way to get through a divorce,” she said. But, “we wanted to build the community that didn’t exist when we needed it.”
Kickstarting a life do-over
Ilyssa Panitz, a self-styled divorce journalist and host/creator of “The Divorce Hour With Ilyssa Panitz” podcast, hails the arrival of the divorce registry: “It’s a one-stop online shopping center to help you start over,” she said . “It’s all about new beginnings — restarting and recharging. People are getting the s–t kicked out of them in their divorces – and they’re down.”
That was true for Emily Aronson, a 37-year-old mom of three in Florida, who is in the middle of a divorce and recently created a registry — by way of an Amazon wishlist — on a whim.
When she posted about it on Facebook, there was an outpouring of support she never expected. An old friend she hadn’t seen or spoken to in more than 20 years purchased a $184 set of bar stools off the curated “Emily 2.0” list.
“It’s been a miraculously healing experience — opening items from friends from my past and talking to my kids about all of the relationships I’ve had in my life that resulted in having dozens of people who want to help us establish our new home,” said the preschool teacher. “It’s an opportunity to talk to the kids about, ‘Why would someone want to help us?’ Because people are good.”