HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. GROWTH. LOTS OF AWARDS.
While founded in 2004, Alara's bio actually starts in the 1990s. Babs found herself suddenly starting over in Denver, after living and working for many years in Houston. The move allowed her to build a jewelry business from scratch. Daunting, but embraced as an opportunity.
In preparation of opening her Denver store, she studiously absorbed the results of a multi-year market research study of retail jewelry shoppers that had been recently published. The results were disheartening: jewelry was NOT fun to buy, jewelry professionals were NOT to be trusted, and getting a root canal ranked as being more pleasant. There was no avoiding the harsh truth: people mostly purchased jewelry because they believed it was the best gift for a momentous occasion, but they truly didn't enjoy the process of acquiring it..
She knew if she could create the store that would make jewelry shopping enjoyable, that store would flourish. The resulting store concept was warmly embraced in Denver, but its mettle was hardly tested. An armed robbery not only led her to close the store, but also to exit the retail jewelry business and move to Bozeman, Montana to continue her wholesale European jewelry import firm.
Shortly prior to making the move to Bozeman, Babs learned of the recent availability of the lease space at the corner of Main and Willson. Suddenly, the wholesaler became a retailer once again. Alara moved into the space, sight unseen.
There were limitations to Alara's wonderfully-located space. Namely, the building’s owner at the time absolutely forbad a wall being removed from the front of the space, resulting in a gallery space of a mere 250 square feet.
Despite the gallery’s tiny size, Babs applied what she learned at her Denver store, and growth shortly followed. By bucking over 100 years of jewelry store design--opting instead for a European layout that physically allows for guests and team members to work side-by-side. The welcoming people of Bozeman figured out "the deal," and were soon stopping by for trunk shows, private parties, and impromptu wine chats. A new building owner allowed for expansion in 2007. That expansion allowed Alara to become more of its originally-envisioned concept.
ALARA ADOPTED THE GINGKO LEAFAS ITS SYMBOL IN 2015.THE GINGKO IS A LIVING FOSSIL. IT IS ASIGN OF REBIRTH, TENACITY, AND SURVIVAL, IN ADDITION TO HAVING A BEAUTIFUL FORM.THE TREMENDOUS SUPPORT OF OUR WONDERFUL COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS AND CLIENTS ALLOWED US TO SURVIVE,AND THEN THRIVE.AND THEN THRIVE SOME MORE...THANK YOU FOR HELPING US GROW.
HOW WE PUT OUR HEARTS (AND $)WHERE OUR MOUTHS ARE.
What goes around, comes around.
We are part of something bigger than ourselves, on so many levels. A very important way we acknowledge that, is through contributions to local-area nonprofits.
To the tune of over 10% of our profits.
How do we pick? Well, in many ways, we don’t. There are so many remarkable nonprofits in the Bozeman area...and we welcome all to make requests for their silent and live auctions, as well as for donations and sponsorships.
While cash donations and sponsorships are granted as part of our annual planning, we donate silent auction items to any local-area 501(c)(3) organization [exceptions being school clubs and political groups] that makes a request with at least four weeks heads-up of their event.
We know this approach is unusual and special, because it far exceeds small business and industry standards. And we’re pretty darn proud of that.
In addition, we design jewelry items in collaboration with non-profits, for the purposes of on-going charitable fundraising.
On a micro-level, Alara supports Downtown Bozeman through both our participation in, and support of, all the Downtown Bozeman Association events--everything from Bridal Walk to Ladies’ Night to Christmas Stroll, to the Cruisin’ on Main Car Show, among many others. And in addition to that, Babs has been the president of that organization since 2005! So, she helps to plot and plan for all the events that make our downtown so vibrant.
Alara is also active in the Prospera Business Network, the Montana Women’s Business Center, Sky Oro Women, and Women Who Wine (which Babs founded in 2006, and handed off to GenNext in 2017)--all Bozeman-area organizations focused on small business success, women’s empowerment, or grassroots nonprofit fundraising.
In the sphere of the jewelry biz, Babs offers long-distance as well as local mentorships for those who are just coming up. On a grander scale, Babs has been invited to speak at some of the nation’s largest jewelry trade shows, on topics as varied as curation, creative collaboration, bootstrapping, industry innovation, and her grassroots efforts to eliminate child labor in the jewelry industry worldwide.
But why stop there? Alara is trying to be a leader in the world of “kinder, gentler capitalism,” wherein company growth benefits all team members, not just the owner(s).