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.