Tranquil reminders for the woman who does too much
After years of designing jewelry for other stores, sisters-in-law Alexys Garrepy of Warwick and Jennifer Brousseau of Cumberland will finally be able to showcase a brand of their own.
Garrepy and Brousseau had both attended the University of Rhode Island to study textiles, merchandising, and design, but took different paths after they graduated. Garrepy got started in the jewelry industry back in 2003 - though she remained in Rhode Island, she did have a stint at a company in New York. However, the constant traveling kept her from her family too often, so she decided on a change of pace.
In need of advice, Garrepy called Brousseau, who had started off in the apparel industry but later went to work at jewelry manufacturer LDC Inc. in East Providence. The President and CEO, Edward DeCristofaro, had connections in the industry that could help Garrepy find her next opportunity, Brousseau told her. She met with DeCristofaro who, instead of leading her elsewhere, asked why she didn't just work for him.
"I said 'why don't I?" Garrepy recalls.
Today, Garrepy, Director of Sales at LDC and Brousseau, Executive Vice President of LDC, have worked together to spearhead Alexys Ryan, a line of jewelry for "the woman who does too much." It's special to the two not only because it will bear their ownership, but also because of the messages they share through each piece they designed.
All the jewelry in the Alexys Ryan line (the name is a play on Garrepy and her husband Brian's name - Brian is also Brousseau's brother) comes with "reminders" for the women who wear them. Necklaces all have inspirational names, including "practice," "freedom," and "adventure," encouraging women to encounter "trial and error," "open a new door," and "take the road less traveled." Bracelets are engraved with pairings of words on the front and back sides of the bracelets, including "love" and "feel the fire," "friendship" and "pact for life," and "balance" and "wear all the hats." Brousseau notes that including two phrases on both the front and backs of the bracelets is "very uncommon" in the jewelry market, adding another touch of uniqueness to Alexys Ryan.
These messages come from encounters or experiences that inspire Garrepy and Brousseau. The "balance" message, one that seems to capture the essence of the line itself, was one Garrepy came up with during a simple exchange with her son in the kitchen - she was entertaining her daughter, cooking dinner, and helping her son with a science project where he was working with a scale. When he pointed out to her that the scale "balances," she realized that was the very act she was doing.
"I'm balancing right now - balancing motherhood and professional life and friendships," she said.
In addition, the two take inspiration largely from women around them - their mothers, their coworkers, and even each other.
"Working here and wearing many different hats, we've passed a lot of them out to team members as we've built and grown, so that I think balance resonates very deeply," said Brousseau.
In addition to their co-workers, the two largely credit the small, family oriented business at which they work for their success. LDC Inc. was founded in 1985 as a tooling and findings manufacturer before it evolved to jewelry making. It employs about 30-40 people, many of whom hail from Warwick and Cranston, making for a tight knit atmosphere.
"We are a family and it's great. I think we can move a lot quicker because of that, which in our industry is so important to be able to do because the trends are moving so quickly," Garrepy said. "We're really able to make that happen."
Plus, working with one's sister in law is a benefit, they both agreed, especially since they share mutual goals.
"I think the collection truly speaks to who we are, the daily demands of work and family, but also keeping true to and having time for yourself and friends," Garrepy said.
Alexys Ryan is available online at alexysryan.com and in local boutiques Tickles, Eloquence Fine Jewelry & Gifts, and Bead Sting. Right now, it only consists of necklaces and bracelets, but there are plans to expand offerings. The pieces come in gold or silver and each feature a Swarovski crystal element (two small crystals accompany the logo etched inside the bracelets, and on necklaces, are featured in a single spot depending on the style). They can be worn alone, but also were made to be dainty enough for layering.