When you receive the rare chance to incorporate portions of an awe-inspiring national treasure into your company’s product, you do it. But it takes a unique type of company like humanitarian jewelry retailer Alex and Ani to imbue that product with a meaningful message, all the while preserving the integrity of a piece of history. In addition, it is ensuring that portions of the proceeds cycle back to promote the goals of the partner foundations who enabled the endeavor in the first place.
In 2014, Suzanne Turcotte, general counsel and chief administrative officer for Alex and Ani, found herself in just such a situation, at the helm of licensing negotiations to secure sections of copper from the Statue of Liberty, which had been purchased by Rick Stocks and stored in a Tennessee warehouse since the monument’s mid-1980s restoration.
“The group that owned the rights to the copper really wanted to make sure its integrity was preserved by whoever used it,” Turcotte says. “Our ethos is to design to connect people; we’re a meaning-based company and we want our products to be authentic and have true meaning. So, to have the opportunity to bring Lady Liberty’s message into the world was a true honor.”
Now, through its license, the company has designed a line of charms with the acquired copper, which feature an exact replica of the iconic statue’s torch, and through its #CARRYLIGHT campaign, is asking consumers to identify the symbolic light they individually carry throughout the world. The project also has personal significance to founder Carolyn Rafaelian: her grandfather passed through Ellis Island immigration decades ago.
The road to obtaining rights to the copper was paved with exacting discussions and careful negotiations aimed not only at licensing the physical materials, but also at establishing and strengthening the historic relationship with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “As a business, we have extensive distribution channels and the ability to create a campaign to raise awareness to elevate the spirit and meaning of Lady Liberty. She has this beautiful, worldwide message of hope and freedom that correlates with the Alex and Ani brand. So, we had to boil that down to what those things look like in the form of legal documents,” Turcotte says. “It was truly a joint effort to structure a partnership that would allow us to deliver Lady Liberty’s ideology to the world.”
Turcotte is also quick to point out that Alex and Ani does not simply donate money to charitable organizations. “How we give back doesn’t just involve writing a check. We want to help create a new model of socially-minded partnership,” she says. “We have a successful social media group, over eighty stores to host events in, and the ability to design a meaningful, authentic product. So, we leverage our reach and activate partners to elevate awareness.”
One hundred and thirty years ago, the Statue of Liberty was given to the United States as a gift from France. In the century since, it has stood as a testament to freedom, hope, and the true diversity of the American experience. Now, thanks to Turcotte, CEO Carolyn Rafaelian, and the team at Alex and Ani, that message can be carried into the world, proving that Lady Liberty is, in fact, a treasure of international proportions.