After listening to her on Hill House Home’s podcast, One Quick Thing, we knew we needed to get in touch! We spoke with Alison about everything from launching her career to how she gets some much-needed downtime as an entrepreneur. Read on here for the full interview:
SN: Introduce yourself!
ALC: Hi!! I’m Alison Lou Chemla. I am the founder and creative director of Alison Lou, a jewelry brand based in NYC.
SN: What made you want to work in the jewelry industry?
ALC: For my whole life, for every monumental occasion, birthday, etc., I always marked special moments in my life with a piece of jewelry. Because of this, jewelry always had a special place in my heart and I knew that one day I would work in the industry. After working for two fine jewelry companies, I knew I wanted to start my own company. I started with my Emoticore collection 7 years ago and it just took off!
SN: We love your playful and cheeky approach to jewelry – what inspired this aesthetic?
ALC: My jewelry has always been a reflection of my personal style. I always want my jewelry to spark happiness and be a conversation starter. There is a uniqueness to my brand, as I always focus on color, enamel has been at the core of my brand since the start, it’s been so fun creating pieces that bring a smile to people’s faces.
SN: How would you describe the “Alison Lou” girl?
ALC: There is a very wide range for an Alison Lou girl. It can be anywhere from a 12 year old who loves her emoji necklace or an older woman who wants to mix in playful and feminine pieces to her collection.
SN: What would be your top pieces of entrepreneurial advice to someone wanting to start their own company?
ALC: Don’t be afraid to fail! You will always learn from each mistake. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
SN: What is the hardest thing about being your own boss?
ALC: Allowing myself to shut off and take time to disconnect.
SN: Do you predict it may be harder for you to unplug after work because this is your own business?
ALC: Definitely. However, I make it a point to take time away from my computer, emails, etc., as I think it’s essential to achieve a positive work/life balance. I just got a laptop this year as I really don’t like seeing a computer after a long day of work!
SN: Do you dedicate a set amount of time each week to work versus social life/”me time”?
ALC: During working hours, I am fully focused on work, responding to emails, taking calls, designing, etc. But then when it is 6 o’clock, I try to fully disconnect and not respond to my emails until the next day. Of course, there are always exceptions, there are some very time-sensitive things that I will always get back to.
SN: There will always be more work to do, but at some point, you need to decide when it’s okay to leave that remaining work for tomorrow. How do you find that point?
ALC: In the beginning, it was very difficult to ever shut off because I was so focused on building my brand. Now that Alison Lou is more established, I find myself taking more “me time” and I make a conscious decision to do so. For me, family time and time with my friends is very important, and I knew that I had to make sure to focus on those relationships in my life as well.
SN: Do you set any other boundaries or have other examples of “me time” that help you unplug from work?
ALC: Yes, I don’t open my computer after I leave the office, unless it is something extremely urgent. I’m always checking my emails on my phone, but I even try to limit that!
SN: Can you share examples of any personal after-work activities? What is your advice to someone who is finding it hard to make time for post-work “me time”?
ALC: After work I will either work out, or go out to dinner with my friends, family, or fiancé.
SN: What is your vacation policy like for yourself and your team?
ALC: Unlimited. I trust my team completely and I know they would never take advantage. I think it’s so important for my team to have vacation time, as everyone can use some R&R and reset. I care so much about my team and I know that happy and well-rested employees are the most motivated!