“I am entrepreneurial, scrappy and extremely stubborn, which my husband says ‘makes me unemployable,’” Alexis Nido-Russo shares. Until just a few years ago, Alexis was indeed employed, as a marketer for non-profit arts organizations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and Chicago Artists Coalition. But a few years ago, Alexis took the brave step of creating Local Eclectic, the platform for emerging female jewelry designers she founded in 2016, a full-time endeavor. Based in Chicago, Local Eclectic’s now 14-person team ships worldwide, and shares the work of female artists from around the globe.
Last year, the site launched Family Gold, an exclusive line of affordably priced heirloom-quality pieces, in an effort to make fine jewelry more accessible. They’re also focusing on exclusive lines with their designers — while always remembering to have a bit fun along the way. Recently, Local Eclectic released a line with Carrie Elizabeth Jewelry that features gemstones incorporated into modern designs. We caught up with Alexis to hear what she’s learned about starting a business, how she stays so positive and the genius jewelry tip we all need to know.
Tell us about the moment that you decided to follow your passion? Can you share how you felt that day?
I was working full time at a non-profit arts organization and started Local Eclectic as a side project that consumed my nights, weekends, lunch breaks … any free minute I had I was working on the business. After a year and a half of splitting my time I decided to take the leap and try to make Local Eclectic work full time. It was a really scary but exciting time because I was giving up a full-time salaried job with benefits to run a business that was nowhere near being able to support me in the same way. But I was newly married, no kids and I knew that it was “now or never.” I remember feeling really free and so happy that I could finally commit myself 100% to the thing I felt most passionate about.
Who has been a force of good in your life and why?
My life is full of positive, amazing and empowering people but if I have to pick just one, I’d say my husband. We’ve been together for 10 years and he is my north star, the yin to my yang.
What’s one good way to start any day, no matter where you are in the world?
Exercise — it’s good for the mind and body and I always feel more productive and focused when I start my day with a good sweat!
What’s one piece of good advice you learned from a woman in your life?
You can sink or swim. I remember my mother teaching me to swim in the ocean in Puerto Rico and when I would get within arms’ reach of her, she would move back just a bit more, forcing me to keep pushing forward to reach her. She was teaching me to swim but she was also teaching me to never give up, to keep going even when I feel exhausted or defeated.
What’s one good lesson you’ve learned from launching Local Eclectic?
When I was starting the business, I took an inventory of the companies I was really inspired by and most of them had been around for 6+ years. That was really enlightening to me — nothing is built overnight. I realized early on that to be successful I would need to be persistent and keep pushing forward. This business has been built brick by brick and any time I feel overwhelmed I remind myself that I just have to do one small thing every day to move the needle.
What’s one good thing you do when someone around you is having a bad day?
Smile — our energy is infectious. You can brighten someone’s day by projecting your own positivity!
Tell us a good story about jewelry – a piece that’s particularly meaningful to you, an amazing find…
I have a few pieces that are really special to me. A solitaire diamond necklace that was my mom’s that I wear every day and a vintage art deco ring that was my grandmother’s. And now I have my own engagement ring and a few heirloom pieces that I’ve purchased and can pass down to my children. At the Paris Flea I found a 24K diamond pinky ring that I purchased for 150 euro — that was a major score.
What’s one good recipe you always love?
There is a Bobby Flay chili recipe that I love! The toasted cumin crema and avocado really make this dish sing.
What one good tip you have for multitasking effectively? And how did you learn it?
I find that I’m the most successful when I make a list and a plan of action and commit myself to each task completely. If I try to do too much at once I end up doing none of the [tasks] very well.
What’s one good habit that you make sure to always do?
I ALWAYS wash my face before bed.
What’s one good movie where you know all of the lines?
“The Holiday” or “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — I love a sappy rom com.
What’s one good jewelry care tip people may not know?
A pro tip for traveling with necklaces: use small Ziploc bags and let the chains hang out the end of the bag. It will keep them from getting tangled.
What’s one good way to unwind after a long day?
Mindless reality TV and online shopping!
Name a woman from history whose good work inspires you.
Frida Kahlo: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” She overcame so much adversity and misfortune in her life. She is such a great example of how we are all capable of greatness if we work hard with a positive and persistent attitude.
What’s one good read you go to when you need to feel good/or a little inspiration?
This poem from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”