Avilan has more stores, partners, and close friends than we ever thought possible, so when one of them is recognized for their talent and uniqueness, we can’t help but celebrate. This is a special shout-out to T Lee for winning Instore’s coveted “America’s Coolest Store” award for the Small Cool Division. Her creativity, passion, and drive for the past thirty years have made her into one of the most talented artisans we’ve ever worked with.
Founded in 1983, T Lee dropped all conventions (as well as her birth name) when she founded her company and toured the trade fair circuit. Through hard work and commitment, she gained a loyal following as well as the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year award in 2002 and the JCK Rising Star. Her first storefront bought in November 2002 has been traded for a smaller but more functional alternative that allows her to be close to the customers.
“I had to choose between the front and the back,” she says in regards to her previous location. “Relationships are the most important part of the business for me, and talking with customers really took me off my bench.” In her new locale, she can be close to her customers and not far from the bench, keeping her hard-earned trust at the forefront of her beliefs and business. Her entire store also matches her commitment to sustainability; her showcases are built of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood with eco-friendly flooring and paint to match.
Lee’s designs have not lost their roots in sustainability; in 1995 she began including found objects in her fine gold jewelry line, soon adding opal scrap cutoffs to her regular designs. Now, she is dedicated to using only reclaimed and re-refined metals, fair-trade and recycled stones, and our very own Storied Diamonds. Her designs reflect her creativity and statement-making flair (as you can see here), ranging from big and bold to light and colorful.
There is more to T Lee than can be put to a page (though the Instore article certainly does a great job), from her extreme sports hobbies to her “follow your bliss” outlook on life. We wish her the best and hope this recognition will bring her even more well-deserved business.