By Diana Garcia
Meet Alaine Hutson, founder and maker of Social Justice Jewelry, an African American, woman-owned business based in Austin, TX since 2016. While always connected to her creativity, Alaine is an academic trained at universities in the US, UK, and Nigeria. She taught at institutions in IN, MI, and MO and currently teaches history at Austin’s HBCU Huston-Tillotson University.
Social Justice Jewelry is message jewelry that lets the wearer proudly communicate
their value and their values. Wearing Social Justice Jewelry is meant to ward off
demeaning TRASH (transphobic, racist, ableist/anti-semitic, sexist, homophobic)
remarks. Social Justice Jewelry helps customers express messages of peace and
strength out into the world and lets others know how you expect to be treated and treat
Alaine shares her experience as a business owner and how EGBI can help you grow
your business too.
Hi Alaine! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
I used to be a professional tennis umpire and have been on the court with Serena and Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Sloane Stephens.
Why and how did you start your business?
I had been approached by people who made “jokes” that denigrate others. I wanted it to stop. I was thinking about it as I walked past an ad for medical alert bracelets and thought – that is what I need an allergy bracelet to social injustices. So I started making the “Allergy” cuffs.
What was the toughest moment in your business journey? How did you go past it and move forward?
I told myself when my business bank account runs out of money I will quit. So when I get low on funds and think the end is near is a tough moment to face, but so far I have been able to go to find markets or new wholesale clients, and once I was boosted by a grant that bought several of my pieces and kept me going.
What would you tell other entrepreneurs wanting to open their own business?
I had a clear purpose when I started my business and I think that is important advice for entrepreneurs. After I had the prototype of the first cuff and before I did anything else I wrote up what my values for the company would be and what would be the point where I had to walk away, so I wouldn’t have to make those decisions when I was feeling vulnerable or in a tight spot. Also, I set up separate business accounts, did my DBA, and sought out as much education as I could about establishing a business. So I could present the company and operate starting day one from a professional place. It helped me get retail partners and also helped me establish confidence; Social Justice Jewelry is a business, not a hobby and not a fluke.
How has EGBI helped you throughout your business journey?
At a time when I was feeling vulnerable and had just survived a funding low, I found EGBI through a long-time EGBI client – Lucero Photography. I needed some more education to push me to the next challenge. The 90 Days to Biz Success program put me in contact with entrepreneurs I could learn from and who saw I had some experience to share. EGBI gave me accountability and strategies to accomplish more in a shorter time. I am still in touch with Lucero and I am in the process of collaborating to make a crossover product with Sharafina Designs. We are also important sources of information about opportunities for each other.
“Supporting EGBI brings more success to your local small businesses.” – Alaine Hutson
What would you say to someone that is still unsure about using EGBI’s services?
There is nothing to lose and so much to gain. To paraphrase a rule from an art department, EGBI is a place you can trust, so “try trusting it for a while.”
Want to work with EGBI? Contact us to find out how you can get started.