Alison Chemla, designer and creative director of Alison Lou, aims to create jewelry that brings people happiness. We can safely say she’s hit the mark in the happy department. Her collection has been on our radar since she first launched her eye-catching and wildly popular emoji-centric jewelry back in 2012 – a smile-inducing collection with timing just right for the explosion of emojis in pop culture.
As we’ve watched Alison Lou grow and expand over the years, its scope has tapped into our own love of accessible costume price points right alongside serious fine jewels. In addition to her Instagram and street style-famous “Loucite” hoops, Alison is equally adept at working with statement gemstones. She’s become a go-to for fun fashion earrings and cuffs, cheeky fine jewelry, and some serious, heirloom-worthy jewels. An adept modern marketer, Alison manages to imbue her playful aesthetic across all collections, while eliciting that brand-reinforcing happy response.
We met up with Alison on a chilly NYC day to explore her jewel-box of a store on the Upper East Side and get a behind the scenes peek at her colorful office nestled just upstairs. Below, you’ll learn more about this native New Yorker’s inspiring career journey and a few of her favorite things. – Jenna Wise for The Stone Set
How did life prepare you to design jewelry?
Growing up in New York City opened my eyes to culture and creativity at a very young age. I studied Art History at Bard College, furthered my education about design. In college and upon graduating, I worked for two jewelry designers in preparation for my own line.
What was it like building your brand from the ground up? What have you learned running your own business?
It was scary but also so rewarding and exciting. I was so young and looking back on it I can’t believe some of the things that would stress me out. Now, having been in the business for 6 years, I realize that it’s not worth my time or energy to sweat the small stuff, and MOST IMPORTANTLY it takes a team (and I have the best one). Having people you trust makes the process a lot easier.
How would you describe Alison Lou? What are personal favorite pieces you never take off?
Alison Lou is a happy brand. I always want my jewelry to be personal and bring people happiness when wearing it! I never take off my tennis bracelet, which was a gift from my sisters for my 30th birthday. It makes me smile every time I look down at my wrist!
What moments along the way have been most rewarding?
After I launched Alison Lou in 2012, I was on the cover of the New York Times Style section. I don’t think I will ever really get over that moment. Since then, there have been so many milestones along the way. Watching Alison Lou grow to what it is today has been more rewarding then I could have ever imagined!
Let’s talk LOUCITE. How did the collection form and what’s the ride been like as they they take the world by storm?
It’s been a dream come true. I always wanted to make a diffusion line without compromising the integrity of my fine jewelry brand. My LOUCITE hoops feature enamel, which has always been at the core of Alison Lou. The timing, the creative, and the amazing feedback was a perfect storm.
Jewelry aside, what are your absolute favorite things?
I can never have enough beauty products, which consists of 90% Biologique Recherché!
What are your go-to gifts? What’s on your wishlist?
I love gifting LOUCITE, of course…but really, I’m not just saying that, I really really do!
On my wishlist? I wish I knew…my office is harassing me about my holiday gift!
Describe a perfect day (we hear you love to travel!).
The perfect day for me is a productive one. I love to wake up early, go to a yoga or Pilates class, take a little “me time” with a coffee and a shower. Then, I make my way uptown to my office where I go through all my emails and make my to-do list. I’m a firm believer that nothing can get done without a to-do list.
Share something about you that may surprise people.
I’m bilingual, I speak French fluently. I was raised speaking French with my dad.
Give the world some advice.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you truly always learn from them, and always stay humble.
Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set