“Heroes are made with the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with!” I am Alexis Ander Kashar, a deaf civil rights attorney and an entrepreneur to a beautiful jewellery brand named RoseBYANDER. The brand has a greater vision of representing the beauty of language and culture shared by the deaf community. The ‘Rose’ in RoseBYANDER represents love and harmony that is delivered through authentic connections. The ‘Ander’ represents the family name.
The debut collection of RoseBYANDER introduces the Love Sign Pendant created from precious metals and stones to represent many different kinds of love including romance, friendship, familial and community. Our mission is to share a universal symbol of multiple meanings of love.
I come from a family of 3 generations of Deaf people. Including my parents and grandparents. My sister is the only hearing member of my immediate family. My parents wanted to create the world a better place. To do so they started a company that manufactures assistive technology that provides visual indicators of sounds that we cannot hear. Through my parents, I learned to be an advocate. Although, I had to fight for my access to education at the age of 14. That battle inspired me to pursue an education in law to help children in similar situations. Academically, I went to a law school and practised law for some time. I describe it as ‘Access’ in my DNA and my life has been around this fact oh how ‘Access’ can make a difference! After some years, when I had children, I continued with Law along with taking care of them. I wanted to raise them in the best possible way while working in the field of Law. Meanwhile, I introspected that I wanted to do more than just practising law as to make bigger changes, general society needs to be involved in order to bring awareness to the world. I sought out a new pathway to create this awareness .
This pathway to elevating awareness became more apparent after I started to wear a necklace that was made for myself, my sister and my mother . The design of this necklace symbolized ‘I love you’ in American Sign Language (ASL) also is the symbol of love that i share with my family. It also symbolizes the affection we have for our language & community. While wearing the necklace, I was often stopped by people while passing, whol would share with me their awareness about the American Sign Language (ASL) by recognizing the symbol of that necklace. Some of them would also say that they wished they were more aware of that language so that they can sign with loved ones or people they knew who signed. These conversations were the real reasons that intrigued me in making connections with strangers. These connections made me perceive that it was time to bring out the necklace to the World!
Starting my jewellery brand was unintentional and unplanned but was certainly a need. I wanted to connect with more people of the deaf community and others with the help of my Jewelry. For years, ASL was unrecognized and was not mainstream enough. It was not recognized as the formal language that it is complete with its own set of rules. However, jewellery with these symbols was worn by the people occasionally at that time. Although, it has not changed much present as well. With Rosebyander, we are trying to educate people involved one by one!
My experience until now has been amazing; however, the work with this kind of Jewelry is a slow process. It is e-commerce business and not out there in the wholesale market. It is a task to look for new ways daily, to reach out to a larger audience. The difficulty level increases when it comes to educational pieces in jewellery. This happens because people are aware of the common symbols like a jewellery piece with the symbol of a heart and religious symbols. These type of pieces are also common in the market, however, for educational ones, people need to be informed enough and that takes a tremendous amount of effort. Another aspect is to create awareness about the brand to reach the right audience. Both education and awareness work hand in hand! I also share the beauty of ASL as it is a complex language as one symbol can hold many different meanings and can be used in different situations such as romance, friendship, family love and to greet others.
The major challenge for me in this business is reaching out to the right groups. Not only the deaf community but also the world outside it is to be reached as the deaf community is already aware of it. As a business owner, it is equally important to me to understand all aspects of the business from accounting, marketing and to be a spokesperson. Having a variety of ideas is easy but executing them is just the opposite of it.
In terms of the Hiring process, I believe in the term ‘Hire slow, Fire fast’ to build the best team. Collaboration is really important to me as opposed to working alone. . I prefer that the aspirants are team players who can work along with the whole team and achieve success. Another aspect I believe is about different kinds of growth. All the people working should have a major objective that is Growth, not just individual but for the whole brand whether it is awareness, educational or sales.
As a piece of advice, I would say, one should trust his/her instincts. Taking advice and listening to what others are saying is also important as it builds a team spirit but ultimately one should have faith in their own decisions. If you believe in it go for it and nothing should stop you!
In the case of sustaining the business in the pandemic, it has been interesting for me. I started with E-commerce and thus there was less of a struggle. However, talking about the sales we didn’t go up or even down. This was the right time for the brand to connect with the community as we need to show LOVE and unity more than ever.
For me, the biggest achievement is when people fall in love with the jewellery offered by Rosebyander.com .This brings to the whole ideation the brand in the simplest manner of communication which is to increase the essence of love and unity among individuals and communities.
Thank You, Alexis, for not only sharing your amazing journey but also contributing and being a part of the initiative that helps a community to grow through your brand. You have truly proven to be playing a major role in connecting the people of the deaf community and promoting their rights!