This week Get a real job the guest works daily alongside Yoda, Iron Man and more than one Disney princess. Allison Cimino is CEO, Founder and Designer of RockLovea jewelry company that started small (as in a team of its own) and later entered into licensing deals with some of the biggest entertainment companies on the planet: Disney, Marvel, star wars and more.
During our conversation, Allison talked about her unexpected career path, the challenges of wearing the hats of a creative thinker and a hard-core businessman simultaneously, and has some great advice for anyone about to to have a meeting at star trek Headquarter. (Spoiler alert: let your geeky flag fly!)
Below are some highlights from that conversation, which can be heard in full above or wherever you download podcasts. Thanks as always for listening!
Big ideas start with big problems
“My career has definitely been a winding road. At no time did I say, ‘I want to make Disney Princess jewelry. That’s my life goal.’ I was a violinist and thought I was going to be a musician. I always loved jewelry, but never thought of it as a career. While I was in college, I put on this beautiful gold diamond nose ring that was supposed to be, you know, premium quality. And I had a horrible allergic reaction. I looked like Quasimodo. It was very traumatic. And I found out I had this allergy to metal. And as soon as that experience happened, I decided that I wanted to go overseas to Florence, Italy, to do an old-fashioned apprenticeship and make my own jewelry so that I could make trusting the metal I was putting in my body. And that became the cornerstone of RockLove. Metalmaking was how I solved my own personal problem.
Birth of a licensing business
“I was doing pieces for boutiques with this kind of rock and roll style. And then I started working with bands and authors that I met at live events like Ink and Iron or Viva Las Vegas, the rockabilly themed weekend I would do unique pieces of merchandise for them like an extension of t-shirts or stickers or CDs and that was my debut with merchandising which was never a path I had planned to take.
“My jewelry’s first screen appearance was on HBO True blood. It was very exciting. And I have all these low res screenshots because it was at least ten years ago. But more recently I worked with the very talented props department to Star Trek: Picard. I created with them physical jewels which are worn on the screen. And Sir Patrick Stewart, who’s been my captain since I was seven, has been my collar for most of the first season. It’s a giant plot point and he holds it and I just cry. And my husband takes videos of me and laughs and then we sent the video to my dad because he was the one I was watching star trek with. It was a very impactful moment. Patrick Stewart holding my jewelry! It pisses me off, even just telling the story.”
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don’t play it cool
“When I visited the star trek studio, I completely panicked and stopped everything to go and sit in Captain Picard’s chair! And at Disney, they have this whole campus and there’s so much to see that your eyes go everywhere. At times like these, I really think it’s important to be yourself. And if you’re gagged by an awesome prop sitting right there, then just voice it! You’re a fan, and the people you meet work there for a reason too. They are fans, so you can get a little pissed off. Your enthusiasm endears you to these very jaded people of consumer products. So I think it’s really important not to try to put on fake airs or pretend you’re a big bad guy. You’ve walked through the door, you’ve already sold them, so just be yourself.”
Success starts with authenticity
“I only make jewelry for the things I’m a fan of, and that’s part of what made RockLove so successful. And for me, as a designer and a company spokesperson, I’m dovetails so well with licensing and the people who make the important decisions, my sincerity has taken me far.And so I think anyone looking to build a brand, whether it’s jewelry related or not, has to come from a point of sincerity and not chasing money. It has to be something that you really can’t imagine waking up to doing nothing, even on bad days. Some level of interest in the company that you pursue is absolutely paramount.