Two women, two international backgrounds, one common passion: these are the foundations the Anna e Alex brand was built on, a brand which, for almost 20 years, has been synonymous with artisanal jewellery excellence. Alessandra Sales, one of the two founders, spoke to us about the entirely Made in Italy entrepreneurial story: the early days, development and visions for the future.
After several international adventures, both personal and professional, Anna Neri and Alessandra Sales met when they were both working for one of world’s largest luxury groups where they held the roles of International Marketing Manager and Director of External Relations, respectively, for several years. At a certain point in their careers, they realised they now had new dreams, ideas and ambitions, urging them on to new horizons. Driven by an extraordinary passion for pursuing one-of-a-kind ornaments and a love for traditional Italian craftsmanship, they founded the brand Alex e Anna.
"We both had extremely significant backgrounds and we knew perfectly well what it meant to build a brand, but what interested and intrigued us most were the well-kept secrets of craftsmanship, the love of perfection, continuous attention to detail, and the love for continuously seeking out fresh ideas," Alessandra tells us.
"An unquestionable aesthetic affinity brought us together, as well as our fascination with excellence and handmade and Italian craftsmanship. A unique, exceptional business that we were very familiar with, thanks to our fantastic ten-year experience at Bulgari, but one we had always experienced through the rather limited scope of our company’s world, and we wanted to explore it in different, broader scope instead."
And that’s how Alessandra and Anna built and established their creative project, focusing on their passion for the most authentic Italian quality, far from any mass standardisation. Their very first collaborations were with artisans who supported their furniture and object redesign and restoration projects. Then, little by little, they explored, working in different areas with different materials until hitting a new creative vein in the world of bijoux and jewellery.
"Our first collections were a success, not least in the world of jewellers where, at that time (2006-2007 ed) many people were approaching fashion jewellery with new ideas and designs, trying to face a recession that, for many entrepreneurs in the sector, was quite major.
We struck up fresh collaborations with stylists and other trade specialists to get ourselves increasingly better known, particularly through taking part in trade fairs, which are crucial meeting points."
INSPIRATION AND CREATING
Anna and Alex have firmly established their business over the years and broadened their range, which is now successful and well-known in many countries. Their success has also led them to their current teaching position on the marketing & communication course at the IED in Rome, while they continue making all their products by hand, loyal to the brand’s founding values.
"We never stop playing with shapes, colours and materials, liberating all our ideas and creativity to create unique and authentic objects. We’re always paying a great deal of attention to sourcing and reusing/repurposing mediums and materials from the world around us, always, and only, creating our jewellery alongside local master craftswomen, each one offering us an unparalleled wealth of culture and materials.
Working with expert local artisans also allows us to support the many, varied Italian arts and specialisms, and enables us to carefully monitor the production chain - from processing methods, to choosing materials and knowing how to use them and work them in the best way possible - all that is reflected in the final product’s premium quality."
This in-depth knowledge of local areas and their potential, Alessandra confirms, is also a major source of inspiration for Anna e Alex's creations. Their collections always tell a story or follow a specific theme, each initially developed from their (many) ideas, but also from the abundance of inspiration that comes from the history of local areas, nature, art and architecture around Italy.
"The wealth of our local areas is immense and unique, as unique, I repeat, as the skills of our artisans who represent a genuine heritage to protect. So it’s essential to support them and their future, investing in young people who have the skills and the will to commit to these paths, and there are some that do."
The world moves quickly. The immediacy of digital is something that can’t be ignored and there’s no turning back now, Alessandra says, so entrepreneurs everywhere need to keep going, to always be proactive, to keep listening, and to be curious, as well as being able to reinvent themselves, find new solutions and readdress their customers.
But alongside this aspect, Alessandra poses the theme of reflection: the value of experiences as expressions of a new luxury. "Exclusivity, uniqueness, but a rediscovered slowness as well. For me these represent true luxury, definitely in terms of personal experiences, but also in relation to objects. That’s why paying attention to a product’s details, to its story, and to its sustainability, are values we have never abandoned and are reasons our customers continue choosing us"
Visit Anna e Alex at https://annaealex.com/anna-e-alex/