JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Allison Kim-Czerniak has opened the first Alliway boutique in Ward Warehouse, offering her jewelry, as well as handbags and accessories. She wears one of her popular circle charm necklaces. The lotus necklace below is $88.
I'm talking to Allison Kim-Czerniak, who everyone calls Alli, and she's articulate until the moment I ask her the most basic question regarding her line of work. That is, "What kind of jewelry do you like to wear?"
The jewelry-making entrepreneur pauses before admitting, "You know, I don't wear much jewelry. When I go out on a social level, I always forget to wear jewelry, and don't really wear it except when it involves business calls or trade shows."
But luckily for those who do love jewelry, Kim-Czerniak brings an artistic eye, love of color and an appreciation of an array of stones and other natural materials to creations in styles from classic, to playful to sexy. Her pieces are priced from $40.
She counts three milestones since launching Alliway in 1999 -- the first being when she was able to hire production help, the second in starting to be called upon rather than doing cold-calling, the third in launching her lower-priced trendy line Backstreet in January -- and has just reached her fourth with the opening of the first Alliway boutique in Ward Warehouse.
"This has been the hardest job I've ever had, but it's also been the most rewarding job I ever had," said Kim-Czerniak, who worked in the residential interior design business in San Francisco until she could no longer stomach the hand-holding clients required or the idea of working for someone else.
"I just came home one day and told my husband, Steve, 'I want to quit my job and make jewelry.'"
He didn't freak out, but calmly suggested, "Can you just do it part time first?" she said.
With a background in painting and a degree in fine arts from the University of Oregon, designing jewelry was not so far-fetched. "I knew I wanted to do something creative," she said. "I actually dabbled in jewelry a year before deciding to develop and market Alliway."
It worked out to a point where the business supported a move to Hawaii, and while Alli manages the design and business aspects of the company, Steve serves as its art director and Web designer.
The move from San Francisco would explain to local fashion watchers why Alliway burst on the scene like an overnight success a few years back, but Kim-Czerniak paid her dues the first couple of years, conquering a degree of shyness to hit the pavement marketing her jewelry.
"I don't like to talk about myself. That's why I never tell people what I do. It was definitely something I had to get comfortable with. I would get anxiety attacks the first year of business. My heart would be pounding every time I had an appointment.
"My husband actually got my first appointment for me. He was always better talking up Alliway."
To celebrate the grand opening of Alliway, a 30 percent discount is offered throughout September on all Alliway jewelry priced over $50. Check my blog at www.starbulletin.com/blogs/fashiontribe
during your lunch break to find out October's and another special offer.