HudCo member and A D’Zine owner Melissa Panszi Riebe discovered jewelry design as a hobby and has successfully transformed it into a growing business. As with her previous career in social work, Melissa has infused doing good and helping others into the heart and soul of A D’Zine—she donates a portion of every sale to our featured nonprofit of the month.
A D’Zine is a vendor at our upcoming Mother’s Day Market, open in the HudCo Atrium from Wednesday, May 5, through Friday, May 7, each day from 9am to 6pm. We connected with Melissa to find out more about her model of giving back, and hear about some lessons she’s learned along her small business journey.
Can you share with us words that your mother or a female mentor has shared with you and stuck with you through the years?
My mom would always say, “You can do anything you set your mind to do and don’t let anyone ever, and I mean ever, tell you anything different. You deserve to be in the where decisions are made.”
When was the moment you decided to transform jewelry as a hobby into a full-time career?
I took the plunge in 2018 after a dinner with a friend who told me to ‘just do it.’ Actually, she told me that I was waiting for things to be perfect, and if that was my criteria then I would never take the leap. So I accepted that I would not be perfect, and I closed my eyes and jumped.
Things were really picking up before Covid with shows, and then they all stopped. I had to reflect, regroup, and re-plan. Reflect—I realized I wanted to still make a difference like I did when I was a social worker, so I changed my business model and added the giving back/featured nonprofit portion. Regroup—I started playing more with why designs. I allowed myself to experiment, make mistakes, and just let myself create. Re-plan—I collaborate with other female makers (they are amazing), and now we have some fun events we are producing in the Fall. It is a very exciting time for my business.
Your sons are the inspiration behind the name of A D’Zine. Did becoming a mother impact or shift your career goals?
It did, but slowly. I was a Medical Social Worker when I had my first son. I took a seven-month maternity leave, and then I went back to work until I had my second son. I didn’t want to go back to work with a newborn, so I went to grad school again and got a Masters in nonprofit management. I like the flexibility of being able to be home for them when I need to be. In a way, you can say that jewelry-making is my third chapter.
You have incorporated a giving model into your business structure. What advice do you have for small businesses looking to do the same?
If it is something that you are passionate about, then you should do it. Don’t do it just to do it. Do it because it is important to you and it is part of the values of your company. There are many ways to give. You can give monetarily, give with your time, give by donating product, or by helping build awareness.
It used to be said, “don’t mix your business with social justice issues.” After George Floyd’s murder and the pandemic, I didn’t listen to that message anymore. I didn’t want to be silent. It didn’t feel right. I make jewelry with the goal that when people wear it they feel empowered, beautiful, and confident. I wanted the jewelry to also make a bigger impact by giving back to the community. And I wanted to use my platform to highlight the great organizations that are doing amazing work and making changes to better our community.
Are you able to share with us a few non-profits you’ll be working with in the upcoming months?
Sure. Community Resource Center (they empower and integrate new immigrants into Westchester County), Breast Cancer Angels, and No More Secrets (they opened the first menstrual hub in the country to end period poverty).
Brand Happenings: https://linktr.ee/adzineny