Carolyn Rafaelian makes it to Forbes list of Richest Self-Made Women
Armenian American designer, philanthropist, and business woman Carolyn Rafaelian was included in the Forbes’ second annual list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, Forbes reports. Rafaelian founded fashion jewelry company Alex and Ani in 2004, taking over what had been her father’s Rhode Island jewelry factory to manufacture the new age, celestial-chic bangles that have become the brand’s staple. To say growth has been explosive would be an understatement, Forbes says. In 2010, Alex and Ani — named after two of Rafaelian’s daughters — did an estimated $4.5 million in revenues. By 2015, sales had hit $500 million, catapulting the 49-year-old onto Forbes’ list. Rafaelian joins the ranks at #22, with an estimated net worth of $700 million, making her the second richest newcomer to the list. She’s the richest self-made woman in the nation to derive her wealth from jewelry, and joins an impressive group of fashion and retail moguls on Forbes’ ranking that includes Spanx founder Sara Blakely and bridal tycoon Vera Wang. Alex and Ani’s pieces — like its bestselling $28 zodiac-themed charm bangles — are mainly made of recycled materials like scrap metal and vintage or surplus jewelry, keeping costs low and margins high. Everything is manufactured on-site at the company’s Cranston, R.I. base. Alex and Ani now has 65 freestanding stores as well as concessions in hundreds of department stores and boutiques.