Personalized Jewelry With Alana Little
Apr 27, 2016 11:46AM
By Ronda Alvey
Life By Design
By Jordan Venema
Photo: Amber Smith
Make Pie Not War sounds like it could be the slogan for the bakers’ union, but when Alana Little came up with the name for her business, she wasn’t trying to be political. “It was supposed to be funny,” she admits, something she and a friend came up with almost in passing.
It may have been a joke, but the name absolutely makes sense. Everybody loves pie, and most everybody dislikes war, so the name stuck. While it’s easy to get behind the mantra, the downside to Make Pie Not War is that most people think Little is actually in the baking business.
The designer has been doing her thing long enough that most people, especially locals, know by now that she actually makes jewelry. “But if I’m out of the area,” she says, “and 90 percent of the time its men, they’ll say, ‘Oh, you make pies? What’s your favorite pie?’”
“I’ve just stopped correcting them,” she says with a laugh. “My favorite pie is cherry. What’s yours?”
One thing her jewelry has in common with baked goods, though, is that like the best pies, Little makes her jewelry to order. “I don’t sit on back stock,” she continues, explaining that every piece of jewelry is made specifically for each customer.
“I don’t make pre-made things and I don’t make something unless somebody orders it. So I make it just for you. I care enough about you to make this piece of jewelry, and I hope that my love and passion flows through and just encourages somebody whenever they see it.”
She’s pretty much kept to the by-hand, per-order model since she began selling her jewelry in 2007. Her husband, Cameron Little, owned and operated a clothing company, Ephraim, “so we used to travel around and do festivals and live like homeless people for a while. It was super fun while we did it, but
we could never do that now.” Mostly because they have a 5-year-old daughter, but also probably because Make Pie’s success has kept Little so busy. “It’s a labor of love,” she says, “and I literally put my whole life into it.”
Make Pie has grown considerably since its days as a side project to her husband’s clothing company. “The very first show I did with Cameron was Spirit West Coast,” back in 2007, Little says. But by 2008, she realized Make Pie could be a serious venture “when I was actually paying household bills with the money I was making from selling jewelry.”
Then in 2009, Lucky Magazine featured Make Pie in an article about Etsy, which Little uses to sell her jewelry. “It just really blossomed from there,” says Little. “Our sales exploded through Etsy.”
This July will mark nine years since Little began Make Pie Not War, and she calls it “a wild ride, a really great ride. It’s let me stay home with my daughter and it’s allowed me to be an accountant and designer at the same time. I need to be both logical and creative in anything I do.”
Little crafts each piece by hand, even the most delicate designs, like the rose gold ampersand. “You have to form it, solder it, then it gets polished and hammered… We literally do everything besides make the chain.”
In addition to Etsy, Little also sells in retail stores locally and nationally, some of which she cooperates with for specific designs.
“I will work with each store, and I can make a line just for that store,” and that, says Little, “is what makes us different.”
Though Make Pie is mostly Little’s designs, she also says, “Some ideas come from working with customers, working hand in hand to design something they want.
“You have to be willing as an artist to have an open ear and put your pride away,” she continues, explaining that art requires “putting your soul, and heart, and mind into things.
“So when somebody doesn’t like it, it kind of hurts a little, but you’ve got to put your big-girl panties on and go and do business.”
So even if it’s humble pie, Little plans to continue making pie and not war, designing jewelry for “the radical lady.”
Make Pie Not War • www.makepie.net