Alison Blair Studio Jewelry Design
Tell us about your business.After being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and receiving confirmation of my son's Autism, I turned to stringing wooden beads as a way to relieve stress. It didn't take long for me to understand how healing it was for me to work with my hands and tap into my creative place. The moment my business began was when my local boutique asked where they could buy the necklace that I had made for myself! Today I have a repertoire of wholesale customers from galleries to museums to catalogs and boutiques, in addition to an active local retail business (doing art shows and markets). My dream for my business's future is to develop a strong online presence with sites like Martha Stewart American Made, Etsy and Etsy Wholesale. From there I would love to become a brand that gives back, by employing people with disabilities, and help to positively contribute to their independence and engagement in our community.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I am so lucky to have a studio in my home, where I am surrounded by all my favorite and necessary materials. Although my shop is small, I have everything I need here and I love it because it is decorated with handmade pieces I have collected from my favorite artists over the years. Next to my workbench are patio doors through which I get a ton of natural light and a near-perfect view of Boulder's Flatiron Mountains. Oh, and did I mention my staff? Elvis and Pablo are my two Airedale Terrier "elves" who lay at my feet to make sure I put in a full day's work.
What inspires you?Color inspires me, for a few reasons. My sometimes-unexpected compositions are what set my designs apart from the others. I try to be open to "happy accidents", when stones end up together by chance, as leftovers from other projects, but look fantastic together. That jazzes me up. But color is also an inspiration for me because my father was a fine artist who studied color for years. I have found myself rediscovering some of his most adored combinations, like a steely purple with ochre accent. I love when I create something that echoes my Dad's art and influence.
What makes your business stand out?I make my business stand out. There are many designers who work with gemstones and silk and leather, but there is only one me! I take pride in offering great service by customizing any piece at no additional charge, and guaranteeing all my work. I listen to my customers and learn a lot about what they are looking for. It makes me really happy to make the perfect design for someone who I know will feel great wearing what I create.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?I do believe that entrepreneurs need to first follow their hearts and express themselves by satisfying their creative ideas. But we can't deny the business side of things. I think starting small, growing at a comfortable pace, and listening to your customers is tremendously important. I have learned that it's also important to contain myself : Sometimes I get so motivated and excited that I find I am all over the map, instead of using discipline to refine my artistic style before moving too quickly on to the next thing.
What does American Made mean to you?To me American Made is synonymous with community. As a Made in the USA designer/maker, I am part of a village of like-minded , creative people who support each other emotionally, sometimes physically, and financially. American Made sellers are American Made buyers and I love that! Aside from doing all of my production work locally, I try to buy American Made materials whenever possible. This trickles out to my personal life, too, as I am very conscious of shopping American Made.
Mark Your Calendar
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE MEETUPNov. 7, 2014
Join Martha at the American Made Summit kickoff cocktail party.Buy Tickets Now
AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 8, 2014
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City.Buy Tickets Now
RENEGADE CRAFT FAIRNov. 15 - 16, 2014
Shop for holiday gifts at the Martha Stewart American Made Pavilion.Learn More