A Small Business on the UVM Campus– NRG Designs by Ali Gordon
April 30, 2021
Ali Gordon sits at her desk in the Central Campus Residence Hall to make a ring for a customer who found her through her Etsy shop, NRG Designs.
Gordon, a first year at UVM, runs her business from her dorm room, stamping designs into silver rings from her desk. Gordon packages each ring with a handwritten thank you note.
“It’s nice to have that creative outlet and the thing that I can work on that’s a me-thing,” Gordon said. “I always want to have this business as a side thing that keeps me busy.”
Gordon said her love for design started on Gordon’s family trips to Block Island in Rhode Island. Each summer, Gordon had a different piece of jewelry she would make. It varied from rainbow bracelets to paracord bracelets. One summer, Gordon’s family friend gifted her a jewelry kit.
Gordon has worked on perfecting her craft, noticing that with each summer her product became better quality. She started making necklaces, and later began designing rings. She would bring her jewelry to craft shows in Connecticut, and eventually decided to make an Etsy shop.
“I decided to advertise the rings more because I’m a college student– it would be a lot easier to advertise to people my age instead of the adults that I had been in the past summers,” Gordon said. “When I started doing the rings, my Etsy got a lot more views and followers.”
Gordon’s brother has a clothing business which influenced her decision to make her Etsy shop. Her father and brother helped her set up her account, she said.
Gordon receives orders directly through Etsy and gets to working on the rings within three days. She purchases her shipping labels through the website and buys her packaging separately. When finished with an order, Gordon brings the packages to the print and mail center on campus.
Gordon said she has worked extensively on capturing pictures of her jewelry that she felt would attract customers through the website.
“The pictures that first were there when I opened my shop are a lot different than the ones I have now,” Gordon said.
Gordon debated bringing her business to the UVM campus this past fall, knowing the tools would take up a lot of space in her room and that it could potentially take up a significant amount of her time, she said.
“I think it definitely was worth it and I figured out a good setup in my room,” Gordon said. “I’ve been able to work more on my website, making cute packaging and continue to grow the business on a college campus.”
First-year Tali Giubardo, a friend of Gordon’s, noticed the silver ring on Gordon’s finger that read “Namaste.”
“I really liked hers so I wanted to get myself one,” Giubardo said. “Although I was in the area, she still packaged up the ring in a cute bag and delivered it to me.”
Giubardo has watched Gordon grow her business, making and packaging her rings on campus.
“NRG Designs offers unique pieces that are one of a kind because each piece is handmade in her own dorm,” Giubardo said. “Ali is always willing to take a challenge when it comes to designs, you can tell the customers come first as she responds fast and works hard to make every ring as special as possible.”
Gordon has made many special pieces for her friends, family, and strangers that have found her store. One of Gordon’s favorite pieces was a ring made for her mom’s birthday, she said.
Stamped into the side of the silver is the word “Intrepid,”, a word that means fearless and adventurous, and one her mother uses often. Her mom wears the ring every day.
Back at her desk, Gordon picks a stamp — in this case a star and puts the ring on a mangle, a tool that holds the ring while she stamps designs. She hammers the stamp into the metal in several different spots to create a star-covered ring.
Gordon polishes it and makes sure she is happy with her product. She puts the ring in unique packaging with a “thank you” note.