Founders

Alicia Kravitz of Dulcet Design

How did you start your business?
After graduating with a master’s degree in architecture from DAAP in 2009, I was faced with a tough economy and the realization that architecture was not my first passion.

Unemployed for the first three months out of school, I wanted to create something of my own. Although architecture is an incredibly creative field, I was always carrying out assignments for others, either for my professors or for my supervisors during multiple co-ops. I simply figured that if I had time to waste, I had time to do something productive.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
After graduating, I started playing around with a several different ideas. I have a closet full of unfinished projects, and a digital “closet” full of my half-started ideas.

I finally remembered back to my first co-op at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in Chicago. My responsibility was to help run their amazing model shop, which included running two (very expensive) laser cutters. I was amazed at how quickly a drawing could be translated into a perfectly cut object, and equally amazed and grateful that they would trust a 20-year-old with no experience to run them.

While at SOM, I used these laser cutters to create models of skyscrapers, but today I use them to make something jewelry and home items.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The two major resources (and influences) locally have been the Springboard program, offered through ArtWorks, and my parents. Springboard has connected me not only with the resources needed to run a business, but other people that are either starting or growing their own creative business.

Since completing the program in 2011, several of us still meet on a regular basis, keeping each other on track and continually inspired.

My dad has been a great resource for me as well; he's been running his own successful business for the past 30 years. Not only is he an amazing resource for specific questions and support, but also remains to be my cheerleader.

Starting your own business is a leap of faith, and it is invaluable to have someone on your side that believes that you can and should be an entrepreneur. I don’t think he realized how much his enthusiasm, advice and support has made me confident in my decision to take that leap.

What would you do differently if you started your business again?
That is a really tough question, because if I had done anything differently, I wouldn’t have the business I have today. The beauty of a business is that the product can always change.

Aside from the first couple months, I have always had a full-time job. Everything that I have done is outside of those hours. I wish that I had the luxury to focus on the business first, but that just wasn’t a possibility.

I do wish that I had done the Springboard class sooner. Everything I had done prior to the class I had figured out on my own or had learned through my father. I think if I had those resources earlier, I would have had the community around me to push me sooner.

What’s next for you and your company?
Within the past year, I have moved from a retail operation to moving more in the wholesale direction. I now have 20 wholesale accounts from San Diego to Providence, R.I. I am in the National Building Museum and working on a relationship with the Smithsonian museums.

Traveling to wholesale shows like the Buyers Market of American Craft has opened a whole new group of people to inspire me and take me to the next level. American Craft is seeing a revival, and I am excited to bring my technology-based craft to more markets.

Interview by Robin Donovan

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