“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman
Have you ever gone to a museum and asked a question to one of the exhibit volunteers? It’s like their eyes light up and they just word vomit all this jargon about the reproductive system of an Asian Butterfly, because they are so dang passionate about something so specific and odd as the reproductive system of an Asian Butterfly. That’s what passion will do to you: it’ll make you word vomit to a total stranger.
It’s something that makes us- and our dreams- come alive. It brings out the success in us. It helps us be resilient, persistent and ambitious, and because of that, it plays an important role in the workplace. Many young professionals cite that a major deciding factor when choosing a job is finding a position that puts their passions to work on the daily. It’s not just a job anymore, but more so a hobby. Because of this workforce trend, we’ve enlisted the help of Alicia Mohr, who transformed her love of accessories into a career, more specifically a jewelry line called Ali’s Collection. We, at L&C, are big fans of following our dreams and Ali is here to talk about how she turned hers not only into reality, but into a salary, and managed to make the world a better place during every step of the way.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH JEWELRY DESIGN?
It has always been a big hobby of mine, but I didn’t start to think that I could make a living designing jewelry until a few years ago. I wanted to start a company and as I was looking for my “big idea” I kept coming back to jewelry. I love the transformative power of accessories and I thought I could bring unique designs to the table even though it was already a very saturated space. I wanted to focus on high quality materials and make the pieces affordable. And I wanted there to be a significant charity component.
YOUR LINE IS SO BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE- WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM WHEN CREATING YOUR PIECES?
The truth is, everywhere. I am always looking to find beauty and inspiration in everyday things. I recently remodeled a home and there were so many interesting utilitarian pieces that I discovered throughout the process. Plumbing valves have such a cool shape, a spiral of concentric cylinders. I used the shape for earrings and necklaces. Travel is another main source. You discover so many new things while traveling, especially abroad. Morocco, Malaysia, Thailand and China brought me tons of ideas. The colors, the patterns, the landscape, these countries are just overflowing with visual stimulation.
WHAT DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS LOOK LIKE AS YOU ARE CREATING THESE INCREDIBLE PIECES?
When I design a collection I usually pick a theme first and then slowly build on it as I learn more about the subject matter. For example, for the Galaxy collection I read up on astronomy. I then discovered that Neon is one of the most abundant elements in our galaxy and I pay homage to it by incorporating neon colors into the collection. I tend to spend lots of time experimenting with physical materials, but I do sketch as well. In the future, I see myself doing a lot more casting, so more detailed drawings will be involved.
YOUR JEWELRY HAS BEEN FEATURED IN GLAMOUR, TEEN VOGUE, SPLASH AND MORE- WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO SEE YOUR LINE GAIN SO MUCH ATTENTION AND SUCCESS?
The day you discover that you can make a living doing what you love is already the best day ever. Then someone writes about you doing it?! I don’t think I will ever get used to it. I am so incredibly grateful for every person who has ever shown me his or her support.
YOU HAVE CLEARLY PURSUED YOUR DREAMS AND TRANSFORMED THEM INTO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OUR READERS (AND THE WRITERS!) TRYING TO DO THE SAME?
Take in feedback, but don’t take it to heart. It is always easier for someone else to criticize your path. And while many mean well, it’s easy to lose your voice trying to please everyone and consider every detail. You will make tons of mistakes along the way, but it’s how you respond to your mistakes that matters, not that you made them in the first place. Sometimes you have to move forward even if you feel that the piece, collection, book, website, etc. isn’t fully ready. I am a perfectionist at heart and this is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur for me – to just go for it and then respond and adapt later.
YOU HAVE DONE A GREAT DEAL OF WORK WITH VARIOUS CHARITIES- HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH EACH OF YOUR ORGANIZATIONS AND WHAT DO THEY MEAN TO YOU?
I got involved in EGPAF through a college friend who regularly travels to Africa to fulfill their mission. Through her work, it has become possible to get the number of mother to child HIV transmissions down to virtually zero and the organizations progress has been incredible to witness. A Host of People was started by my cousin, who has played a major role in reviving Detroit’s once vibrant art scene. The organization helps maintain art budgets in order to foster hope and togetherness during difficult times. I’m also very passionate about Roll Over Animal Rescue, which I found out about when I adopted our second dog, Hercules. ROAR helps ensure dogs and cats are placed in loving homes instead of being euthanized. We will be forever thankful to ROAR for helping us save Hercules.
In honor of Lux & Concord readers, Ali’s Collection will be increasing our January donations to 30%, up from 25% of the retail price. Enter the code of the charity that speaks to you and, in addition to our donation made on your behalf, you will receive free shipping! To date we have made over $25,000 worth of monetary and in-kind donations and we hope to aggressively grow that number in 2015 and beyond.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ALI’S COLLECTION?
A new collection of pieces that were all hand sketched, due out this spring. I am going to be using some new production methods that I am pretty excited about as well. More on that soon as the process is still in Beta!