With charm-laden bracelets, blazingly bright beads, and an eco-conscious approach—we are so excited that Alex and Ani is part of eBay’s Designer Collective. So we sat down with their founder, Carolyn Rafaelian, to discuss family heirlooms, animal totems, and the beauty of creating a sustainable company.
How would describe your role and your day-to-day at Alex and Ani?
I fill the roles of Founder, Creative Director, and CEO of Alex and Ani. My day-to-day varies depending upon the priority list for the week. Although there are always many things going on, I consistently check in with all departments to ensure that everyone is working in cohesion and creating new, meaningful products that I am proud to introduce to the world. My daily routine is always jam packed with creative collaborations in both business and design that make us unique.
What’s your astrological sign?
My birthday is September 25, making me a Libra. I believe there is wisdom in astrology; Libra’s tend to be thinkers, dreamers, communicators, and connectors. I put love into everything that I do and Alex and Ani is a vehicle for me to express that love and connection.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s funny; I just found the piece of paper that has this written down! When I was seven, my Aunt asked me to write down what I wanted to be. I said I wanted to be a designer and famous roller skater. Looking back, I always knew my path as designer. As for famous roller skater…I’m still working on it!
What was the first item of jewelry you treasured?
The story is truly inspiring. My mother spent months looking through the local jeweler’s window at this gorgeous blue topaz ring, daydreaming about a time that she would have something so special. Low and behold my grandmother, a woman of very little means, managed to surprise her with the ring. That ring was passed on to me, along with the love and memories it holds.
How do you get inspired to design a new jewelry collection?
I believe in being open to inspiration and listening to your heart and mind. My inspirational place is Jamestown, Rhode Island. Being there allows me to take in all the natural beauty and energies that surround me. It’s my soul’s spiritual place; I always feel inspired and liberated when I’m there.
What theme(s) are you thinking about for your next collection?
My next seasonal jewelry collection is inspired by independent spirits: the people who are unafraid to take chances and better their lives. I am lucky to know many fearless people like this. I am also very excited about a new product extension that will be launching shortly – Alex and Ani Leather made completely in America with love.
What does positive energy mean to you?
Positive energy is love, kindness, and making the best of each situation. It’s the driving force behind all things Alex and Ani as well as my life. I believe if you have a positive outlook and interact with the world in a kind, loving manner, your life will be wonderful. Each design is crafted with the intention to empower and inspire the wearer. Alex and Ani’s pieces are wearable art, made in America with love to share around the world.
How does positive energy play into your craft and your designs?
I always knew that creating a conscious company was the only way to go. It’s important to make products with integrity; knowing where it’s made, who’s making it, and the intentions going into it. We thoughtfully determine every single facet of the process to make sure that we are creating mindful pieces, accurate in cultural and spiritual knowledge. The materials that we use are selected with consideration for the Earth and future generations. We treasure our employees and realize that they are what makes Alex and Ani extraordinary.
What’s the best thing you’ve bought on eBay?
My favorite purchase on eBay is actually one of the signature pieces you’ll find throughout our office. It represents the black panther, my personal animal totem, and a powerful protector.
What are you excited about wearing this fall?
Definitely wedge boots, I love them.
What are your wardrobe staples—the clothes you always come back to?
I feel that everyone should wear whatever he or she is comfortable in, nothing looks better then confidence and individuality. If I could wear jeans, tees and great pair of boots every day, I’d be happy! Jewelry allows me to wear a new set of energies every day, to adorn myself in powerful symbols. My inner child still gets excited thinking about Gloria Vanderbilt!
What is your favorite talisman?
I wear a very special bangle that I gave to the Dalai Lama – I never take it off. I created two, one for him and one for me. It says, ‘One People.’ He blessed them, which was one of the most incredible moments of my life.