Lazyboys Cornhole Tournament to benefit Tunnel to Towers

By Amy Nicole Tangel

With fall upon us come tailgating and football, but there also comes the remembrance of 9/11 and honoring those we lost.  This year, one of Long Island’s most popular custom cornhole builders is bringing it all together in a tournament for charity.

Jeff Garrison, a native of Coram, NY, said the first cornhole set he built was just on a whim.  The former career bartender and recreational cornhole tournament player said it was eight years ago when he and his cousin decided to go to a game at MetLife Stadium and began planning their tailgating activities.  Cornhole was an idea Jeff said, but they didn’t have a set, so he just randomly went to Home Depot one day and bought the wood to make the boards.

He made his first set, one board for his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one for his cousin’s team, the New York Giants.  Jeff brought it to the stadium gameday and while tailgating, he said a man kept coming up to him and haggling him in disbelief that he made the boards himself.  One last time the man came up to him again, offered him $150 if he swore he made it himself, and Jeff said the rest was history. 

From that moment on, Jeff said he began thinking about making a business out of it and started making them for family and friends.  Through word-of-mouth and Instagram as his only two means of advertising, Jeff has become one of the top Long Island Cornhole custom builders working right from his garage.

“It’s just always been out of the garage,” he said.

As his first charity tournament since Pre-Covid in honor of 9/11 and the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Lazyboys Cornhole in partnership with apparel company, Back the Blue NY Inc., are presenting “A Tournament for Heroes: 20 Years never Forgotten,” a 32-team-social cornhole event hosted by America’s First Warehouse in Ronkonkoma, Sunday, Sept. 12 to benefit Tunnel to Towers Foundation. 

Tunnel to Towers is a non-profit organization that supports military and first responders in honor of firefighter Stephen Siller, who heroically sacrificed his life on 9/11 to save others.  Jeff said for Lazyboys Cornhole, 9/11 is near and dear to their hearts and they hold great pride for first responders.  Even if it’s in small ways Jeff said they always want to do whatever they can to help.

“I’d hate to see another Sept. 11, but I’d like to see another Sept. 12; that was the day when everyone came together,” he said.

What started out just as a simple idea of building his boards is now taking on a life he never imagined, and so has his support for charity and helping others. Last year was the first year Lazyboys Cornhole raised funds for Tunnel to Towers. When Jeff made a set of boards and raffled them off to benefit the organization, he raised $3500. The Sept. 12 event is the biggest cornhole tournament Lazyboys Cornhole has hosted to date, and Jeff said he hopes for this to become an annual event.

Before the tournaments comes the board-building operations, which run from March to December, with Jeff making about 300 sets a year. But with Covid, Jeff said he has been lacking access to affordable wood. With the inflation in prices, he said the demand became a challenge for him to keep up.

“I couldn’t get my hands on any wood last year, so I did what I could. I was selling sets I had from tournaments and now I am back filling that this year,” he said.

The demand and popularity of Lazyboys Cornhole boards has recently led Jeff to moving from his home garage in Coram to a bigger workshop in Ronkonkoma. But that doesn’t mean the business has expanded beyond its roots; along with the support of his wife and parents, he brought the whole family along.  Everything Jeff learned about woodworking came from his father Jim while he was growing up he said, and when his dad retired, they just started building together naturally and working the business.

The quality is of utmost importance to him, so if a request takes that extra touch artistically to come out just right, Jeff said he to turns to Mario from Red Dragon Graphics to make it all happen.  Most requests for sets involve sports, but Jeff said they never cease to amaze him from time to time.  While trying to keep it “family-friendly,” he said he loves to be as creative as possible with logos and designs. 

“I love doing monograms, any kind of custom lighthouse, Long Island-based stuff is fun, but we’ll do anything,” said Jeff.

Builders of Jeff’s kind are rare in the Northeast, but he said in the south cornhole boards are being made hundreds by the day with the recent trend in the game.  Major companies like State Farm and AT & T also caught on and have recently used cornhole sets with their logos on them as part of their advertising campaigns.  Locally, Lazyboys Cornhole has built sets for businesses such as Chubs meats, Claudio’s in Greenport and for all Miller’s Ale House locations across Long Island.

“It’s perfect for advertising; It’s just amazing.  You can make a game out of it.  Anyone can play, any age,” he said.

Logos are where it’s at Jeff said when it comes to sparking his creativity for the sets he builds and the merchandise he creates for his own company logo, “LBCH.”  Taglines such as “Bags, Beers, Holes” and his Ocean Parkway logo have become the most recognizable images.  Jeff said he is excited about his new fall merchandise which includes a new neon “LBCH” logo that looks like a beer sign and long sleeve t-shirts.

“Keep it relevant. Keep it Long Island.  Keep it home-based,” he said.

The upcoming tournament is coming close to capacity for teams to register, but there are still spots available.  Sponsorship registration is set at $200 for a two-person team and $50 for non-players which includes all you can eat and drink. In addition, there will also be a DJ, raffles and guest speakers throughout the day.  To date, over twenty local vendors and sponsors for the event have signed on to support such as Daisy’s Nashville Lounge, Blue Line Beer, Boozy Cupcakes, On the Border and Village Cigar. 

As far as getting back to making boards in his new location, Jeff said he will be taking new orders with a limited run now through December, beginning the week of Sept. 13.  Having finally been able to re-stock on wood, Jeff said he is ready to get going again and make all the sets he can possibly make and have them ready.

“My goal is to have cornhole at every house on Long Island and hopefully, I make it happen,” he said.

For more information on the tournament and everything Lazyboys Cornhole, from orders to staying up-to-date on the latest designs and events, follow them on Instagram @lazyboyscornhole.

Trendsetters in Fashion Join Forces to Inspire and Empower

By Amy Nicole Tangel

In a time when arts and entertainment are entering a resurgence, so is the world of fashion, and for two women designers on a mission to empower, not only have they overcome the setback by emerging with new collections, but they are thriving through inspiration with support for other artists.

It was 2017 when designers Ayesha Khanna and Imani Jones first met at a fashion show, and since then together they have brought their vision of clothing design and empowering women to the forefront of fashion capitals all over the world.  Between Ayesha’s clothing line, Naurah USA and her entrepreneurship, combined with Imani’s modeling, design and business marketing endeavors, the two women said they have been inspiring each other to build and grow since day one.

“I see Imani and it’s like two cars side by side,” said Ayesha.

Most recently, Ayesha has signed on with Shop Local Designers, a new creation of content for designer brands and a platform for them to stand on conceptualized by Imani along with Co-Founder and Program Director, Joseph Ralph Fraia.  Shop Local Designers was launched in August 2020 as a means to help designers and small businesses recover and bounce back from the effects of Covid; bringing Ayesha and Imani together once again.

Ayesha said she is just one of many designers who are part of the program, and she has launched her line with them not only in NYC, but in Atlanta, Ga., as well.  What started out initially as online support, until in-person shopping and events opened back up, has rapidly grown into weekly events, boutiques in major cities along the east coast and beyond, and both women are now gearing up for their return to Fashion Week in NYC and Milan this September.

“They (Shop Local Designers) will have my back.  There is this desire that if ‘we grow, we’ll grow together,’” she said. 

Inspiration for Ayesha’s clothing line comes in large part from growing up in India in a world of dance.  She was trained from a young age as a classical dancer and said as a teenager in college she began choreographing routines, but distinctly remembers it was at the young age of 14 when she first had visions of having her own school.  For seven years, Ayesha was a member of the first school in New Delhi to bring jazz dance to the city and toured internationally with Dance Works Performing Academy.

Ayesha moved to America in 2005 after she married her husband and thought she left her international dance career behind.  With accolades in India, Ayesha said she didn’t know how she would continue her dance career, but with determination and passion she distributed flyers door to door at her apartment building and turned her living room into a dance studio.  Initially, Ayesha said she moved to the states for love and knew professionally she would have to start from square one. 

“Basically, everything I have built over the last 15 years both in dance and fashion is literally from scratch,” she said.

Fast Forward over a decade and a successful dance company founded by Ayesha, Bollywood Funk NYC Dance School, just celebrated its 14th anniversary.  In the midst of it all, Ayesha was living life as a working wife and mother in NYC when she said she began to feel like she was missing out on all the colorful clothing from her native country while living a non-glamorous and hectic life.

“I was getting sucked into the monotony of the black dress.  I was losing the part of me that wanted to look cute and unique,” she said.

With a growing desire to bring effortless clothing with a unique style to the young, professional working people of NYC, Ayesha said she took her family roots in Indian Couture and re-invented a casual yet glamourous take with a handful of samples in 2017.  She launched her Naurah USA boutique in her living room, just as she did with her dance school, and not long after she said Imani’s fashion show with FIND Your ID NYC came along.  Ayesha said she had never done a fashion show in her life, but she had this nagging feeling she had to do it, and the rest was history.

“Seeing Imani juggle five models with steamers going…you realize when you see something so perfect, there is a storm going on behind the scenes,” she said.

A seemingly natural-born entrepreneur, Imani grew up in Queens and started modeling when she was a 16-year-old, but she said it was in college when she started really doing runway.  While she started out in Brooklyn, she eventually spent five years abroad in Italy and attended Bocconi University in Milan where she studied business marketing and broadcast journalism.  It was in Milan when she developed her first company, Find Your ID NYC, and in 2017 she brought the company home to NYC.

The now 27-year-old said she started the creative agency to specialize in helping artists by providing outlets to showcase their talents through events, media, and networking opportunities.  During her time in Milan, Imani said when she started the company she was primarily working with Italians, and from that experience it helped broaden her business mindset.  Ever since her return to NYC in 2017, Imani continued to travel, work, and live between Milan and NY until COVID came along, and now she said she is eager to finally be making her return to Milan for Fashion Week in September.

“This is the longest time I haven’t been back since I moved there,” she said.

Being led in heart and forward-thinking, in 2019 Imani began another entrepreneurial venture and launched the now non-profit organization, PYNK NYC as a continued effort to support women in the arts. Imani said the inspiration stemmed from seeing women often sexualized in entertainment industries, especially creative industries, and she wanted to provide a safe place and networking platform to connect with other like-minded individuals. 

Events are currently held monthly, and Imani said the organization has recently been signed on by Airbnb Concerts to sponsor PYNK NYC.  In addition to the new sponsorship, Imani said the organization has grown in mission and has recently become a 501 (c)(3), with the intention to provide funding for women creatives toward their projects to take them further with creative exploration.

“The idea originally was just we wanted to do something to create a safe space for women creatives to showcase their talents,” said Imani.

In addition to the creation of Shop Local Designers, Imani branched out yet again during her downtime and found her own creative outlet through the development of her new fashion line, Kühler Co. NYC. When everything was shutdown, she said she began working with her design team and put out the first collection in October 2020.  Designs from the collection can be found not only in NYC, but shops in Washington D.C., Charlotte, and Atlanta.

“This was kind of like a pandemic project.  It was in my mind for a while, but I didn’t have the time to do it,” she said.

Both women agree they feed off each other’s energy and said they have stuck together the longest out of other people who have come and gone.  As for what’s ahead, if the future is a reflection of all Ayesha and Imani have respectively built in their careers and passed on to others, this could be just the beginning.

To view Ayesha’s collections, visit www.naurahusa.com and follow her on Instagram @naurahusa. For more information about, Find Your ID NYC, visit http://www.fyidnyc.com and follow them on Instagram @findyouridnyc and to keep up to date with Shop Local Designers, follow them on Instagram @shoplocaldesigners or http://www.shoplocaldesigners.com.

Photos courtesy Joseph Ralph Fraia (@jrfstudio) & Ayesha Khanna