Logo for Saybrook University


Alex and Ani: A Vision of Positivity Makes Waves in the Ocean State and Beyond

By: Dennis Rebelo | 02 Nov | 5 comments


Photo of Carolyn Rafaelian courtesy of AlexAndAni.com

In a world where the original Ben & Jerry’s may only be a memory trace for many young Americans, Alex and Ani is creating a deep offshore swell of waves prompting many to grab their organizational surf boards and join the team.

This movement birthed in Rhode Island appears to be the first positivity movement in jewelry to date. Not unlike Ben & Jerry’s or Tom’s Shoes, Alex and Ani’s momentum is in part due to its strong alignment with humanistic values.

Owner and designer Carolyn Rafaelian truly fuels this organizational spirit. As her personal calling, Rafaelian awakens the essence of team members by embodying the spirit of being human each day herself never seeming to lose sight of her guiding role. It is her life's work to inspire her customers to relish what is unique and authentic about their selves.

Self-expression and autonomy are rich realities for us as humans. We want to move about as we decide where to eat, work and of course what to wear for clothing and jewelry. I call Alex and Ani products “love-identity” objects since the company spotlights our feelings and focus on connection.

When I first met Alex and Ani’s CEO, Giovanni Feroce, I was struck by his clear intention to bring a new standard industrialization code (or SIC) to Alex and Ani products. Feroce wanted a new SIC labeled “positivity energy.” Not only does he seek reclamation of American manufacturing, but he also considers this “mission” a requirement amidst the climate of economic uncertainty for most human beings today.

I couldn’t help but reflect on how the combination of Rafaelian and Feroce have ignited a spark heard around New England. Deeper, however, is my sincere appreciation for their ability to gel requisite talent to ensure that the collaboration and shared leadership is a practice, not a chant.

Belongingness is a key “pull” we have as humans, which is something Rafaelian and Feroce want to cultivate through this venture. Maslow's hierarchy of needs notes that “belonging” is a pre-requisite to “feeling good” before a person reaches “actualization.”

I know Rafaelian and Feroce are outlier humanists to be sure. I don't know whether Rafaelian and Feroce ever studied Maslow, but it actually doesn't even matter much now.  Their plan is “in action” and their keen sense of understanding what people need outside of the organization—such as self-expression—and inside the organization —making it a place where they can showcase their personal gifts, for example—gives more than just “hope.”

The story of Alex and Ani is still fresh. I equate this movement to reading a Harry Potter book for the first time.  You may not know much about the main character, but you know his world is a bit magical, rich, and deep with connections and possibilities of what may be. 

Alex and Ani is a positivity movement. Of course, the manufacturing requirement has prompted an expected 200 plus new jobs in Rhode Island alone during the next 18 months. As stores open internationally and Internet sales peak, know that recycled metals are used in the jewelry, the company's products are made in the U.S.A., and the company's greater purpose is to connect people. Each artfully designed piece of Alex and Ani jewelry is accompanied by a “meaning card” explaining the background and meaning intent behind each piece.

The culture inside the organization is amped. Charges of positivity make the plant and design areas as vibrant as Walt Disney Studios during its animation hey-day. There is a clear “feeling tone” amidst the folks at headquarters.  Renee Levi, Ph. D., calls such wisdom at work “group magic." I have felt this magic at Alex and Ani each time I visit or work with one of their leaders.

So when have you felt commitment, connection, and humanity lately? Have you considered how there may be a “movement” that can serve as a positive, wave-making machine for human potentiality?  I think I've found one.  Do yourself a favor, take a peek at their website and let me know if it is the “Charity by Design” or the “Path of Life Expandable Wire Bangle” that hits the mark for you. Chances are you’ll find what I discovered: that there are organizations out there establishing a systemically robust approach to marketing meaning-full work.

Read other posts by Dennis Rebelo

Keep up with our community: Facebook | Twitter | Saybrook's Organizational Systems Program


Comments and Discussions

Humanly Rooted

Hey Dennis,

Thank you for sharing this. We can not forget the identity of ourselves, our organizations/businesses, our family or our role in the evolution of our world. Encompassing human elements into what we do allows us to keep ourselves grounded in the purpose of our lives. As Alex and Ani grows, it is not only providing jobs for people, it's providing people with an opportunity to experience self-expression at a place that we tend not to, the workplace. Bravo....

Patrick West

Reply to P.West


Thanks for your note of appreciation with respect to Alex and Ani's workplace culture and mission.

Maintaining a collaborative culture takes work in several areas: self-identity, language, leadership and acceptance.

The tension to "do good work" inside a company usually breaks away even crumbling while the outside persona or fascia [the way a company seems to the outsiders - clients and fans], but Alex and Ani [with Carolyn and Giovanni's assistance] are aware of the need to sustain teaming inside the company.

No great efforts of humanity are done by just one [person].

My thanks for your reflections on the topic.

Our best to Philadelphia.

Truly Refreshing


It is refreshing to hear this about a local company especially one that is not only growing but using humanistic principles to do so. So often we are smothered by "corporate culture". Having witnessed it myself with a father who has been at B of A for a decade and a half. To "be ourselves" and to embed meaning in the work place is rare.

It sounds to me that Alex and Ani, Carolyn, and Giovanni embrace the age old philosophy of Shakespeare, "This above all: to thine own self be true".

I recently received my very first Alex and Ani bangle at an event, The Tree of Life http://www.alexandani.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=980 It simply amazes me how on certain days I autopilot and put this piece on. I'll look down at my wrist during lunch and smile knowing that this bangle has "meaning". If that is exactly what Giovanni and Carolyn want to do with each bangle well then I am believer.

When people ask me about the bangle I share with them my story of it ended up with me and how this piece adds context to my own life. Thank you for adding meaning to jewelry, work, and life!

Jamie Palmer

Picking your extension identity...


Selection of your Alex and Ani "love object" in part extends your identity [or care or concern or affinity] and tells the world "here's what matters to me" today. So, I am glad you turned to their site to gain a better "feel" of how that can happen for you!

Enjoy the search, spread the good word & work of A & A,

All it takes is one...

As Dennis so eloquently and clearly pointed out, it takes a small, positive movement to initiate a growing swell of empowerment. By focusing on positivity, absolute belief and the bringing a genuine joy to others, Carolyn Rafaelian and her partners are powering a paradigm shift that is unprecedented and sorely needed. As a Humanistic centered Massage Therapist, I am inspired by Carolyn Rafaelian's philosophy and example. I am also intrigued by jewelery that will raise the wearer's vibration and enhance their positivity and happiness. I am eager to find my special piece and use it to benefit my clients!

My thanks to Dennis for sharing this uplifting and thought provoking story with us all. It is a great way to end a fantastic day and it sets me up for a fantastic day tomorrow!

Cynthia Sprague, NLMT
Rejuvenation by Design, LLC

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Google Plus