Your Name: Alison Stern

Business Name: Alison Blair Studio, a maker of handmade jewelry and watches

Type of Business: Clothing & Accessories

Business Location: Eldorado, Colorado, United States


Reason for starting
After 9/11 I donated blood to the Red Cross, only to find out that I had HepC. That same year my son had been diagnosed with Autism at 2 1/2 years old. In 2002 my husband left his corporate job to start his own company and we were left without health insurance. My son and I were both uninsurable due to our preexisting conditions and would be left without insurance once our COBRA benefits expired. After doing research I learned that if I had a business I could get Group Of One insurance for my family, regardless of our conditions. And so, having never made or sold jewelry, I sat down and created, thus Alison Blair Studio was born. The first year I had to make $25,000 in order to qualify and I set out to every market, crafts show, and pie-eating contest to make that money. I did it and was able to get us insurance.

How do you define success?
Success to me is setting a goal and plowing through obstacles, adversity, and anxiety to get that vision in place and within sight. But I think the key is then to step back just a bit to allow it to take on a shape of its own.

Biggest Success
My biggest business success is being here, 11 years later, and profitable. I’ve now survived through a couple downturns, watched businesses come and go, and have figured out how to best keep my business afloat. I am now in several hundred boutiques, museums, galleries, and have been in catalogs and magazines.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My primary challenge is the actual business part. I have to use lots of self discipline and creativity, making use of existing inventory before purchasing new items, and also learning to say no when a deal looks impressive but doesn’t necessarily feel right in my gut.

Who is your most important role model?
Honestly, my mother is my most important role model. She is someone who takes on a challenge and falls apart later 😉 . In crisis she sees no alternative but to get through it and she has taught me that.