We had the good fortune of connecting with alison stern and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi alison, what do you attribute your success to?
I think the most important factor behind the success of my business–20 years strong now–is that I’ve learned to follow my heart when designing and creating a piece. I’ve been tempted from time to time to jump on trends, but it’s never fulfilling for me. It never feels good the way a unique designs feels, when it comes from my heart.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My business began 20 years ago as a hobby, hand-knotting gemstones on silk cord. Before long my business began to thrive as I transitioned into a wholesale venture, while still doing retail shows. After about 15 years I had become so busy that I was unable to branch out in new ways. I had always felt that learning some metal smithing techniques would add interest to my designs, but I had no time to learn basics. So I decided to step away from my business to study metal smithing. It was a really hard thing to do. But, as I have said before, once I lit the torch, there was no going back. I’m so proud that I was able to tackle a skill that was so incredibly intimidating and daunting to me. Every day is a new opportunity for me to learn and I’m so happy i took the chance.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My tour would begin in Boulder, because it’s such a fun and beautiful thriving community, that is compact and so easy to fall in love with in a day or two. Coffee on Pearl Street Mall in the early morning; catching a fair such as a Firefly Handmade Market during the day, and winding up with a great glass of wine downtown. The next day would include a bike ride on the vast trail network going north to south, finishing up at Eldorado Canyon State Park, dipping some toes in the ice cold water. Next on the agenda would be a trip to Denver, to the Denver Art Museum and some brunch in RINO. I would certainly throw in a walk around beautiful Union Station. I would allow for a couple days up in the mountains. A hike in Summit County is a much, visiting Breckenridge for its ambience and lunch in the charming town. While in the High Country we would check out lovely Vail for more outdoor adventures and walk around the villages at the base. As part of the mountain tour I would take my friend to Glenwood Springs, and do the hotsprings thing, then head to Carbondale and Aspen, for a couple days. If I haven’t yet worn her out, I would want to take her to Durango and Crested Butte, of course.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I love this question. My answer has evolved over this year, with all the challenges Covid has brought. This year I have found so much support among fellow artists and I’ve loved being part of Colorado’s artistic community. From show promoters like Firefly Handmade and Mountain Art Festivals, to Facebook groups such as Denver Handmade Vendors Group, I think we have all come together to support each other in subtle, sincere, and creative ways. We have all been sharing ideas to keep our businesses afloat, have promoted each other on social media, have collaborated with promotors to come up with mutually advantageous ideas, etc… It’s been the silver lining in this crazy year.