Accessories tell a story and the story is one that tends to combine the designer’s vision, his/her background, the pieces themselves and how the wearer embraces it within their lives. The story of ALEX AND ANI is no different. Carolyn Rafaelian serves as the Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Creative Office.
She has created an accessory brand that illustrates the way that empowerment, storytelling, authenticity and connecting humanity come together. She creates each piece within this coveted line, that is worn by athletes, celebrities, an influencers. The eco-conscious line that utilizes recycled materials that are processed ethically, was created in 2004 in the basement of Carolyn’s father’s factory in Cranston, Rhode Island (interestingly enough, her vivid memories are growing up within the jewelry business as her father used to make American Flag pins during the Vietnam War).
In addition to being a brand that is Made in America, she is proud that her business has grown exponentially from 25 employees to well over 1,000 people (which she views as her tribe) – some having started from the very beginning. Her belief in a healthy work-life balance is demonstrated within her Rhode Island headquarters that has a subsidized café, which has local and organic foods available. In addition to retaining great staff, her commitment as a philanthropist is evident as ALEX AND ANI- has provided well over $30 Million to organizations locally and internationally to continue the concept of Doing Good.
There are a number of areas where the success of Alex and Ani can be seen with nearly 60 retail stores, over 1800 external retailers, boutiques, etc. These environments are not just points of sale, but places where customers can share their journey through jewelry by connecting in a meaningful way through the product as a story. The brand has instilled a movement towards compassion, as well as individuality, through its themed collections as well as symbolism that is used.
The success of the brand has everything to with Carolyn who is led by a commitment that is filled with purpose that allows her to clearly connect to her vision and to optimize the brand as she sees fit. She also believes in enriching those who work with her, who are dedicated and instrumental in carrying out her needs for the brand.
ALEX AND ANI has a number of partnerships with an array of national sporting organizations, the Olympics, but it is her focus on redefining corporate-giving through CHARITY BY DESIGN that allows a unique way to impact giving back to others through her jewelry via over 550 charities. In her way, she feels that this brings communities together and creates a sense of consciousness and empathy.
With so many fundamentals of the brand, it’s easy to see how she creates a narrative that is welcoming to her customers. Earlier this month, ALEX AND ANI unveiled and exclusive jewelry collection that incorporates original copper that was preserved from the Statue of Liberty National Monument, which inspires the world to Carry Light. This copper is a part of a centennial restoration partnership with the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc, and includes 26 pieces. The pieces are an exact replica of Lady Liberty’s torch that are made from her preserved copper.
From 1984 – 1986, the Statue of Liberty had its stainless steel armature bars replace the original, iron frame and copper supports. This copper, was preserved at that time. “The biggest honor of my life is to take her message and make it literally, physically attached to each and every one of us. LIBERTY ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD. That’s who she is. She holds the torch to light our path,” said Carolyn.
Via ALEX AND ANI’s social, you may have noticed the #CARRYLIGHT hashtag, which encourages followers to be inspired by Lady Liberty and to see how they bring light into the world. They are asked what do you CARRY LIGHT for – whether this is a passion, a cause, friends, family etc. Those who purchase this collection receive the signature meaning card that accompanies each LIBERTY COPPER collection which states, “Bearing her torch … we welcome Lady Liberty’s movement of light and hope. When we CARRY LIGHT, we ignite the light in others, and create one light indivisible.” This collection supports the work of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.
See more from the Sept Issue.