o understand the momentum behind Alex and Ani,
begin with the conference
table. Shaped like a horseshoe,
it is a replica of the one in the
war room of the United States
Central Command. On Monday mornings, executive staff
members convene around it
to present their sitreps
(situational reports): detailed
operational updates similar to
those used by the U.S. Army.
The position reserved for a
four-star general is occupied by the CEO.
Embedded in the table—and in all
the company’s tables and desks, as well
as in the Sheetrock of the walls—are
crystals. They are meant to deflect negative energy and were installed after a shaman’s ceremonial cleansing of Alex and
Ani’s new headquarters, here in Cranston, Rhode Island. Providing extra spiritual protection, the company’s door
handles bear the Atlantean symbol worn
by the archaeologist who led the excavation of King Tut’s tomb.
The martial and the metaphysical.
The disciplined and the divine. Credit
Alex and Ani’s strange hybrid culture
for its kudzu growth, which drove sales
from $4.5 million in 2010 to $80 million last year, and head count from
23 to its current 642. Behind that culture is a surprising collaboration
between two people who shouldn’t even
be in the same movie. Founder and
chief creative officer Carolyn Rafaelian
is an ethereal, blissfully optimistic
designer with a quadruple bottom line
that includes karma. CEO Giovanni
Feroce is a solid, systems-hugging
former Army officer and Rhode Island
Alex and Ani, once
a pure expression
of its founder’s
sensibility, is now
a company with a
plan: a plan for
Assembly work at Cinerama,
in Cranston, rhode Island.
Cinerama was founded by the
father of Alex and Ani’s founder.
state senator who talks in directives to
everyone but Rafaelian and prefers a
succinct “wilco” in response. Together,
they are transforming a diminutive jewelry company into what they hope will
become a lifestyle brand on the scale
and scope of Ralph Lauren.
If you haven’t stumbled across Alex
and Ani, you probably will soon. By
year’s end, the company will have
opened 57 boutiques, from Massachu-
setts to California. Its products are sold
in department stores such as Nordstrom
and Bloomingdale’s; in hundreds of
independent gift shops; and in kiosks at
airports, in hospitals, in casinos, and on
cruise ships. Major League Baseball, the
Disney parks, the armed services, and
dozens of colleges and sororities sell Alex
and Ani products through licensing
agreements that brand Alex and Ani jew-
elry with their logos. Nonprofits work
through its Charity by Design division to
create original products for fundraising.
FEROCE WAS ACCUSTOMED TO
LEADERS WITH VISION. A LEADER
WHO HAD VISIONS WAS NEW TO HIM.