University of Rhode Island  
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

TMD 402 Spring 2012 "Entrepreneurship"

Alex and Ani: Rachel Rafaelian

Summary by Melissa Smith

 
       

“When wearing Alex and Ani, you’re not wearing Alex and Ani, you are wearing yourself on your sleeve” (Rachel, merchandise control and director) Alex and Ani is a worldwide trend that is increasing by the day. The owner, Carolyn Rafaelian, launched the company in 2004 and named it after her two daughters, Alex and Ani. Since then, the business has expanded to a worldwide jewelry phenomenon. Two representatives of the company, Rachel and Iris, shared their directive roles and responsibilities in the quickly expanding company.

Carolyn Rafaelian created a line of expandable bracelets that stays true to the mission statement of the company. “Alex and Ani's mission is to design products that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit. Alex and Ani's collections reflect a design aesthetic that celebrates each wearer's unique essence.” The owner and designer create a balanced mix of culture and inspiration to develop meaningful products that are unique and artistic. The meaning of each individual bangle promotes individuality as well as working similar to a charm bracelet in that the wearer can carry meaning in every bangle. Each bangle she designs possesses a feature that will be meaningful to a large variety of individuals within the target market. Creating a product that will relate to the wearer is a beneficial business decision that has made the company millions.

The use of marketing and public relations has expanded and informed their target market of the new and innovative products that are worn worldwide. Iris, the director of marketing, develops and initiates valuable marketing strategies that encompass the life and culture of the brand. A positive aspect of their marketing strategy is the use of surroundings. Being a company based out of Rhode Island, sponsoring local and charitable events bring tourists and locals into the shops and out with the product. By sponsoring events such as the Newport Folk Festival, Fashion Night Out, and the Boston Celtics, Alex and Ani has successfully reached out to the local market. Taking a huge step in February of 2012, Alex and Ani premiered their first commercial during the Super Bowl. This 30-second video caught the attention of viewers watching across the nation. This jewelry phenomenon also has received an enormous amount of public relations. Celebrities and magazines wear and feature these accessories. Between both of these types of marketing, Alex and Ani has created a following that has led to the opening of 10 corporate retail locations.

These expandable bracelets are spreading quickly. Keeping in touch with the culture and meaning of the brand is a huge focus of the company. Rachel, the director of merchandising, is in charge of distributing and displaying each of the stores in a shop friendly manner. With the anticipation of 23 stores by the end of 2012, proper merchandising is imperative in order to stay true to the brand. By keeping a consistent lay out of product, Rachel keeps control of all of the locations. Merchandise control is a difficult job, but with the use of detailed floor plans, Alex and Ani has a specific merchandising appeal that gains customers at first sight. By combining meaningful bracelets with color stories and themes, customers are interested in buying not just one bracelet but the whole set. This strategy gains the company a massive profit.

Alex and Ani is a valued company, the entrepreneurial skills embedded in the staff representatives is shown through the hard work and dedication to the company. These individuals all encompass the ethics and culture that the company was founded on. Carolyn is a true entrepreneur and most definitely an inspiration.

 

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