We’ve all heard it before, little acts of kindness go a long way — and for this New Jersey native, little acts of kindness went so far as a nationally recognized brand with five storefronts throughout the country, and counting. Meet Adriana Carrig, the woman behind the pretty-with-a-purpose jewelry brand, Little Words Project.
Originally hailing from Livingston, Adriana struggled with bullying for most of her young life. Giving “kill them with kindness” a new meaning, Adriana flipped the hurt from her past on its head to create a collection of charm bracelets, each with inspirational words or phrases on them. At first, a way to keep her own spirits up, Adriana’s bracelets quickly grew popular among family + friends, and from there, she took the brand full-scale, with the hopes of making kindness cool everywhere.
The Montclair Girl had the chance to chat with Adriana about her entrepreneurial journey, what’s to come for Little Words Project, and of course, all things New Jersey. Read on for our interview with New Jersey native Adriana Carrig, the CEO + founder of the Little Words Project jewelry company.
(Photo Credit: @adrianacarrig)
The Montclair Girl: Where are you originally from if not from North Jersey and why did you choose to move here?
Adriana Carrig: I am originally from Livingston, NJ (where I started my business in my parent’s basement) but I was actually born in Los Angeles! That said, I love North Jersey and am proud to be a Jersey-based company.
MG: What is your favorite aspect of living and working in New Jersey?
AC: I love Jersey for our proximity to EVERYTHING. Be it a beach, a city, or the mountains- we have it all. I also love working with our Jersey customer base. Our Jersey customers are the best and I love being able to see them spontaneously out and about!
MG: What inspired you to create Little Words Project? What were your first experiences with jewelry making?
AC: I was bullied my entire life, and I knew that if a young woman could just look down at her wrist and read a positive word she might feel stronger in those low moments. The bracelets were inspired by my imperfect and very challenging journey that I know a ton of women can relate to. College was the first time I started making them as reminders for myself to get through tough times, and then for my sorority sisters! It really connected us as a sisterhood and I thought if it worked for us, why couldn’t there be a sisterhood for the masses?
MG: Tell us about your business — its mission/services/products.
AC: Little Words Project is a jewelry company all about spreading kindness. The idea behind our bracelets is simple. You pick an inspirational word that means something to you, wear it for as long as you need it, then pass it on. Each bracelet has a unique code on the tag so you can register the bracelet, share your story, and see where the kindness travels! We currently have a large collection of bracelets for women (and men!), as well as a few select products like tumblers, cards, candles, and sweatshirts only available at our retail locations.
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MG: The motto of your brand is “just be nice.” Can you tell us a little more about that and what kindness means to you?
AC: Our “Just Be Nice” motto is at the forefront of our brand identity – we believe that everyone should just be nice to one another! You don’t always know what someone else is going through, and by just being nice to them, you can really make a simple difference. Kindness to me means really going that extra mile to help someone or put a smile on their face. Kindness knows no limits and can really spread if we let it.
MG: What would you say makes your business special?
AC: There are a lot of things that are special about Little Words Project like our community, or our giveback commitment- but, I think the trackability component to our bracelets drives the most impact on our brand. Giving our customers the chance to see the special interactions that they create from passing on their Little Words has an extremely lasting impact.
MG: What’s something about you or your business that people might be surprised to learn about?
AC: I was an English major in college! I never really took any business classes and had no idea I was going to start a business one day, but have learned so many things along the way by simply doing (and failing) as I built Little Words Project.
MG: Little Words Project retail stores are popping up throughout the area — how many official locations does the brand have now / can we expect more in the future?
AC: Right now, we officially have 5 retail locations! We are in NYC (Bleecker Street and NoLita), Pier Village in Long Branch NJ, Georgetown, DC, and Boston! We also just opened a pop-up location in San Francisco. You can absolutely expect more from us in the future starting with Miami which is scheduled to open this February.
(Photo Credit: @adrianacarrig)
MG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
AC: My biggest source of inspiration is my mom. She came to the US from Mexico at 18, and has worked her way to building an incredible life for our family here. She has always taught me “Querer es Poder” which translates to – if you want it, you can achieve it- and that has been my guiding force throughout my life and has led me to believe in myself endlessly.
MG: How has the growth of LWP grown your own personal brand?
AC: I would say that as LWP grows, my personal brand grows as well! I meet so many other entrepreneurs, business owners, and customers through so many Little Words Project events, and that really helps to make connections with people who then want to learn about me as well. Our store openings have been a big way to connect with people in person for them to get to know me.
MG: Are there any other local business owners or leaders that you look up to?
AC: I look up to so many women in business and am pretty much inspired by all of them. Locally- I am very impressed with and inspired by Bobbi Brown!
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MG: What are your goals for this year?
AC: We hope to see Little Words Project continue to grow and open in cities across the nation. There are so many untapped markets that need to know about our mission of kindness and self-love – and we’re committed to spreading that far and wide.
MG: What does a typical day look like for you?
AC: When I am in town, a typical day involves a full day at the office. Once there my day can really go a variety of different ways – but usually, I have various meetings internally with my team and with outside partners. I take some time to catch up with everyone, handle some projects for our stores, connect with other small businesses, and focus on what’s next for ours. Once the day at the office is over I head home to spend some time with Ford (my 21-month-old) and my husband before some late-night TV and some much-needed RNR.
MG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
AC: The highlight of my life so far has definitely been having my son Ford. I have always wanted to be a mom, and had a rough journey to getting there having done IVF after two years of trying to conceive. I am so grateful for him and the joy he’s brought to my life. Now, pregnant (naturally and a total surprise) with my second, I know that everything I do, I do for my family.
(Photo Credit: @adrianacarrig)
MG: Little Words Project has become a national brand — how, if at all, did your NJ roots influence/inform the growth of the brand?
AC: As a tried and true Jersey girl- I am quite the talker! I believe in the motto “ABC- Always Be Closing” and I spent a large majority of my early years (who am I kidding- I still do this) just talking to anyone who would listen about my business. The word spread like wildfire and is now growing beyond New Jersey every day. When we used to go to trade shows, other brands and partners immediately knew I was from Jersey because of my quick wit, chattiness, and the fact that I never took no for an answer.
MG: What are some of your favorite local businesses in the North Jersey area (restaurants, workout spots, etc.)?
AC: So many to choose from! Some of my favorite places to eat are The Ritz Diner in Livingston
(you have to get the Marion Chopped Chicken Salad!), Livingston Bagel, and the Summit Diner! Some of my favorite places to shop are Murray and Finn in Summit for kiddos, Augusta Mae in Cranford, Sisters in Denville for gifts, and Alba in Hoboken for cute clothes! Of course, there’s also Indigo in the Short Hills Mall which has pretty much anything you can imagine needing. It also helps that all these stores carry LWP too 🙂
MG: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
AC: My best advice is just start. You must believe in yourself first, and the rest will fall into place. Also, read “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau. Do not let the fear of failure keep you from just starting somewhere.
You can find Adriana on Instagram at @adrianacarrig and Little Words Project.