Profile on Alexandra Hart Jewelry Design
What was the inspiration for starting your company/brand?
I realized during high school that there was no doubt that metal was going to be my voice in the arts from that point on. After grad school, and a wonderful apprenticeship with a goldsmith, it seemed only natural to start a business myself. So I guess that means metal (the medium of my message) was the inspiration. A combination of my professional, technical, artistic skills and visual inspiration by natural world served as the basis for my brand. Since founding it in 1995, the business plan has changed with the times, but the vision has remained the same: responsibly produced, content driven, limited edition and one of a kind fine art-jewelry and sculpture.
Tell us about how doing good for people and/or the planet is a key part of your company’s philosophy.
I have long been concerned for the environment and the living things in it. Again, it is a part of who I am, so the business reflects this. Currently, I'm president of Ethical Metalsmiths, an international jeweler network, and I work hard with my colleagues to improve the jewelry industry, from within and from an educational standpoint. I first became a member of EM when it was unpopular to talk about mining and sourcing!
I also serve as Secretary of the Board of Compassion for African Villages, a nonprofit founded by a friend who was human trafficked from Zimbabwe. Their mission is to improve sustainable, equitable educational resources for rural villages across the continent. I'm a former president of WJA San Diego chapter, and have served on their National Scholarship Board helping to support women in the industry with scholarships and grants. I mentor teenage girls, serve to inspire middle school girls to enter careers not often occupied by women, and I train apprentices whenever I can.
What role does community play in inspiring, starting or helping your company grow?
I wish there was more diversity in the jewelry biz! Most of the industry is old school: origins in family business. This has not meant much opportunity to break into the industry. I am NOT from a family business so I learned how difficult it is to get in, simply with my education and background. My work with WJA Scholarships and Grants has been the most direct way to support diversity in our industry. Outside the jewelry world, I support community by doing fundraiser events, appearances in galleries and museums, shows for a cause, public demos, donations to auctions, etc.
What obstacles or challenges have you and your company had to overcome, particularly considering things like social/eco impact or running a small business.
As a small business, I can be more flexible and adaptive with the direction of the company, but at the same time I rely on major market forces which effect me directly. Market prices of precious materials can change rapidly, and running a wholesale business, with only half the margins, and more static pricing leaves me in a pinch sometimes. Pricing for eco/fair trade/responsible/traceable materials is sometimes more costly, but I would argue closer to the true cost of production, especially if we want guarantees and fair wages! In fact, it's not much more costly as people may think to do good. And, I use 100% reclaimed and recycled precious metals, which are no additional cost at all. These are further arguments for remaining an indie biz, where I can directly and personally address my clients needs and desires.
What’s next for you and the company?
With my exhibition "Symbiosis" now up, I am looking to travel with the show. show!
This exhibition is inspired by natural symbiotic relations. In each piece, I strive to achieve an “aesthetic symbiosis” of abstract sculptural ideas, traditional jewelry forms, and the human body. I designed each piece to act on the body as if it were a distinct organism living with its host. Each work offers the wearer and the viewer an opportunity to ask: “How do I relate to my jewelry?” In creating much of the work, I collaborated closely with my colleague Tea Ninkovic, a couturier. In addition, the Sparks Gallery has long encouraged the ideas expressed in this show. My art has always been inspired by the marvels of life and biological science. I offer this exhibition as a tribute to the symbiotic relationship between art and science.
My work, my company and my service will continue to evolve and keep up with the times, serving those who are curious, intentional, and in need around the world.