“When the pandemic hit, no one was buying wholesale. Stores weren’t buying anything,” Callarman said. “So we literally, within a week, created a website, and got the website up and going.”
The pair views their lack of traditional business experience as an advantage, allowing them to “develop new ways to do things and think about things differently than most people do,” Callarman said.
Their approach is succeeding, with sales topping $1.7 million last year. Allie + Bess is on pace to exceed $2.5 million this year.
“We’ve doubled [in sales] every year. I think we would like to just keep on growing,” Callarman said.Stringing communities together
Their bracelets are made from beads sourced from India, Asia and Africa, as well as others produced specifically for Allie + Bess. Some are vulcanite, a material made of repurposed vinyl records.
“We want to offer the consumer new and unique things,” Callarman said.
At the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, a friend recommended trademarking their products, Wardlaw said. Both founders are mothers with young children, so they incorporated five black beads into their trademark, representing Callarman’s two kids and Wardlaw’s three.
As demand for bracelets increased, Callarman and Wardlaw expanded their administrative and production teams. They wanted to have a positive impact on the community so they chose to hire four local refugees to assemble the bracelets.
“Everything we do is visual. You don’t have to speak a [certain] language to be able to work for us. It’s all a visual art,” Callarman said. “It creates a more inclusive work environment.”
Their community outreach also extends to local charities, including Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support. The company recently created a partnership with Genesis that lets children at the shelter design a bracelet that Allie + Bess will sell. A portion of the proceeds from each bracelet sold goes directly to Genesis, supporting the brand’s goal to give back to women and children.Social success