The news of Alex and Ani’s bankruptcy was somehow not surprising.
Her struggles have been well covered and founder Carolyn Rafaelian left a year ago, with a little push.
But it still left me with a pang in my heart.
Because I loved the story of the meteoric rise of this cool, entrepreneurial woman from Cranston.
There was a thrill of pride in 2017 when Forbes named her the 18th richest self-made woman in the country with a value of $ 1.2 billion. That same list included Oprah Winfrey, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and eBay guru Meg Whitman, but Forbes put Rafaelian on the cover as the most interesting story of all.
In many ways, she was.
Billion dollar tech companies are common today, but a jewelry unicorn?
The compelling part was the way Rafaelian projected his eccentric personality into his products, an all-American tale in the vein of Steve Jobs.
Like him, Rafaelian was a bit eccentric. She had a do-it-yourself approach, but it turned out to be the secret sauce for both. They put their quirk into their products.
After:Alex and Ani go bankrupt
Yes, Rafaelian had a great product: stretch bangles that you decorated with charms. But she made it clear that she was really selling something else.
It was the buzz that drove customers to buy.
Just as people wanted Apple products to be part of a “think outside the box” culture, Alex and Ani’s customers appreciated the promise of earthly balance.