Back in November, when I attended the Martha Stewart American Made conference, one of the items in attendees’ gift bags was an Alex + Ani bracelet. Carolyn Rafaelian was one of the panelists at the conference, and she talked about how she had chosen to locate Alex + Ani in Rhode Island to rebuild the jewelry industry there, which, like a lot of American industries, had once been booming but had fallen into disuse.

Carolyn’s story, like so many others’ at the conference, inspired me. She talked about the fact that she founded her company when she had two young daughters (hence the name), which resonated for me, since I'm starting Quinstance under similar circumstances. More broadly, the conference represented a turning point in my business — it became the moment at which I knew Quinstance could become real. When I sat there surrounded by 700 other people, all of whom were pursuing their dreams, whether in textiles or food or stationery or children's products, I thought, “Why not me?”

We're not carrying Alex + Ani at the store. As much as Carolyn's story inspired me, her dream has already reached a much grander scale than mine, although I hope to catch up. But the bracelet has become a quinstance for me, an object to which I return to find strength. I frequently put it on for business meetings to remind myself of that moment when I knew I could make this happen. I put it on to give myself confidence in this dream. This bracelet came to me — I stumbled upon it — and now it represents empowerment and belief and community. That's what a quinstance should be and how it should function in your life.