Rhode Island

Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Jewelry and design have always been a part of Carolyn Rafaelian's life. Her father, Ralph, opened a jewelry manufacturing business in 1966. It was there that Carolyn developed her love of design. In addition to designing pieces for her father's business, Rafaelian began to create her own jewelry line. An overpowering sense of belief in those products led Carolyn to start Alex and Ani, the jewelry company named for her two eldest daughters.

An online shopper from Rhode Island, A. Cemal Ekin, Ph.D., has filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon.com over its Prime Shipping program. Ekin paid $79 for Amazon Prime annual membership in order to receive free shipping on Prime-eligible goods, but alleges that Amazon induces sellers who participate in its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program to mark up prices of Prime-eligible items to include shipping charges.

If you were one of the 111.5 million people watching the Super Bowl earlier this month, you might have noticed a commercial from jewelry company Alex and Ani. While the Super Bowl might seem like a funny place for a jewelry company to be advertising — amidst all the beer, soda, technology and cars — the move was just another one of Alex and Ani's unconventional business strides. The Rhode Island company was started by jewelry maker Carolyn Rafaelian in 2004. Over the last 10 years, the company has grown 365 percent in revenue from $2 million to $230 million.

It's hard to ignore the force that is Alex and Ani. Founded by Carolyn Rafaelian, the holistic inspired jewelry company has rapidly evolved from a small business to a national brand that consists of retail boutiques, wholesale licensing, cafes, a professional development program and media company. Alex and Ani's bangle bracelets and charms have been sported by the like of teenage girls, Olympians and none other than the Dalai Lama. So how did this SMB from Rhode Island become a household name in just two years? 

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