First entering the jewelry business at age 18, then returning to school at age 30 to earn her college degree, Allean “Ally” Davis is now director of merchandise for My Trio Rings. In this role, she guides the company’s product strategy, creates pricing and merchandising plans, and oversees branding and site promotion. Among her career highlights is developing a pioneering collection of plus-size wedding and engagement rings.
Here, Davis shares insights into her career path, the challenges she faced, and her experience at LIM College.
WWD: How would you describe your career path?
Ally Davis: The first word that comes to mind is “unconventional.” After starting in retail, I transitioned to retail store management. Seeking more stability, I made the decision to return to college at the age of 30 and began studying fashion merchandising and buying at Nassau Community College. I earned an associate degree before transferring to LIM College, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2017. During my studies, I worked in both the wholesale market and in e-commerce. My goal was to find a position that would provide me with a work-life balance and a constantly changing environment.
WWD: What were some of the challenges you faced?
A.D.: I first entered the jewelry industry at the age of 18 with a hunger and drive to succeed. Despite being the youngest person in the room, I saw this as an opportunity to learn from others rather than as a hindrance. This mindset led me to think differently and approach challenges with humility. I was never afraid to ask questions, listen intently to successful individuals in areas where I wanted to grow, and speak my mind.
Despite some criticism from peers, I remained curious and continued to learn and grow. My attitude propelled me into a management position at a young age. Over time, I came to understand that my team respected my honesty, effective communication skills and my ability to inspire and motivate others. What was once seen as a negative trait — speaking my mind — became my superpower, and I made a name for myself in the industry.
WWD: How did your college coursework and internships help inform your career decisions?
A.D.: LIM College offered me a chance to explore diverse career options, including working with wholesale diamond companies and independent start-ups. This experience helped me identify what worked for me and fueled my passion. It also provided me with excellent networking opportunities and a well-rounded sense of people. As an older student, I connected with professors who were industry experts and working in positions I aspired to attain. This enabled me to ask pertinent questions and gain valuable insights.
WWD: Is there a professional achievement you are particularly proud of?
A.D.: At My Trio Rings, we noticed that many of our customers were purchasing large engagement and wedding bands beyond the traditional size range of 6 to 9. Our extended size range received many positive reviews, which prompted our chief marketing officer, Punit Shah, and chief executive officer, Vipul Lakhi, to charge me with developing a plus-size collection of rings.
We started by designing styles that were not only beautiful but also functional for larger fingers, using a larger model as a guide. The initial development was a resounding success. Seeing the potential of this collection, our team decided to create Mabel & Main, the first plus-size fine jewelry company. Since its launch, we have collaborated with plus-size industry influencers to develop jewelry collections based on their inspirations, designed classic and trendy styles for our catalogue and added accessories. Witnessing the success of this brand, along with the positive feedback from our customers, brings me joy and a sense of pride in being a part of its growth.
WWD: Have you had mentors within the industry?
A.D.: While I wouldn’t say I had a singular mentor, I’ve had the privilege of being guided and inspired by many people throughout my career. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to connect and learn from others.
WWD: What’s the next step for you?
A.D.: As someone who is always striving to improve, I’ve been contemplating pursuing a master’s degree to provide me with additional knowledge and skills. I’m looking forward to enrolling at LIM College for that degree in 2024, and I’m particularly excited about taking courses like Advanced Fashion Merchandising and Sustainable Sourcing.
WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in marketing?
A.D.: There are several key factors to keep in mind. First, it’s essential to stay updated on the latest industry trends and understand your target audience. Strive to find a balance between creativity and analytics, as this will provide the best possible outcomes. Flexibility is also crucial when it comes to developing effective strategies.
Communication is key, so listen carefully to clients, colleagues and customers and clarify any confusion. Finally, networking is vital. As it’s often said, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Some individuals have not secured their position by submitting their résumé to HR, but instead have been placed through their network.
WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
A.D.: It’s important to strike a balance between caution and boldness. Taking calculated risks can lead to breakthroughs and new opportunities for growth. Learning from failure is an essential part of the growth process, so don’t be afraid to take risks and learn from your mistakes. And always remember to be true to yourself and your values. Your reputation is everything, so make sure that everything you do is something that you can be proud of. If you stick to these principles, you will have a fulfilling and successful career that is built on a foundation of passion, skill, and integrity. But most importantly, I would say to myself, “I am proud of you!”