PORTRAITS BY CHUN-LI 'KEN' HUANG
When Alexa Cucchiara was three years old, she would gallivant around her home in Lower Manhattan dressed in paper outfits she cut and created for herself. By middle school, the paper materialized into fabric, and by high school Alexa was dawning customized skirts she designed using her sewing machine. Once she entered Marist in 2015, she was already running her own business.
“I’ve always loved to create,” Alexa said with a radiant glow persisting from her smile. “It was just something that I was born with, to have these creative impulses.”
INTUITVE AND INNOVATIVE—Early on in her life, it became inevitable that Alexa was destined for artistic pursuit. She prompted her parents to sign her up for classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the School of Visual Arts, and the Art Students League of New York.
As Alexa honed her artistic skills, her innovative mindset flourished while growing up in New York City. She spent much of her youth browsing through clothing racks of various stores, and further drawing inspiration from diverse perspectives throughout the city. Oftentimes, she would frequent the fabric shops of the Garment District, feeling the textures and channeling her intuitions to create.
“Sometimes I simply walk down the street, see something on a wall, like bricks or uneven grooves, and become inspired,” she said. “On a cultural level, [living in New York City] opened me up to different values and lifestyles. It has helped me become more intuitive and innovative.”
While Alexa saw her clothing designs as simply a hobby, a way to indulge her innovative instincts, her creativity transcended mere impulse. She was a business visionary. She harnessed her curiosity and observant mind to form her own jewelry brand by the ripe age of 16.
Her business began the same way she conducted all of her artistic pursuits-- for fun. While visiting a jewelry store during her junior year of high school, she accidentally bumped into a ring on the shelf. “This is kind of cool,” Alexa thought as she picked up the ring off the floor. “I felt like I could make something similar to it.” After investing some supplies and tools to make the ring, she recreated the jewelry and posted the picture of the final product on Instagram. She expected nothing more than a share of Likes. But instead, Alexa was flooded with inquisitions about the ring. How did she make it? How much was it to buy? Was it even for sale? Capitalizing on the interest, Alexa began accumulating informal orders and harnessing her designs to the public. She created a separate Instagram account for her jewelry brand, called “Alexa’s Accessories.”
“I got all of these compliments on my designs. Everyone thought they were interesting, especially my classmates." As Alexa expanded her repertoire of creations, her account began to gain public recognition. “Random people would take notice of my designs,” Alexa remarked, with an air of surprise still lingering in her voice. “At first I only made rings, but then I expanded into other types of jewelry like necklaces and bracelets.”
Her individual design styles, which consisted of jewelry that started off with one twist in their make, inspired Alexa to rename her Instagram account to “One Twist Co.”, and she began selling to customers online. Today, the account has reached 403 posts and garnered almost 4,000 Instagram followers.
Alexa's Childhood Image
“I think everyone is artistic deep down inside, they just don’t know it. They have to test the waters.”
“It is all really exciting and amazing to see how my designs have gotten more intricate with practice and experimentation. I have learned a lot from this experience and have worked hard to create my platform,” she said. She engulfs herself in her business, seeking artistic perfection. She spends hours researching online and trying different projects until she is satisfied.
“Sometimes I could invest all of this time and money researching and purchasing material, just to discover that I do not like any of it after all,” Alexa said. “You really just have to study the market well. It is all trial and error for me.”
Still, Alexa’s extravagant efforts center on her passion for business and creation. Her interest in design and mathematics, joined with her outgoing personality, guide her entrepreneurial mindset, something she has fostered since she was a child. “Even when I was younger, maybe in second grade or so, I always wanted to start my own business. Now, as a businesswoman, I am always searching for new ideas.” Her “One Twist Co.” business later spearheaded her interested in studying Business Marketing at Marist.
Alexa Cucchiara's creative instincts, exposure to diverse perspectives, and knack for business allowed her to develop her own jewelry brand by the age of 16. She continues to cultivate her innovation through constant exploration of her home in New York City, as well as her surroundings at Marist. As a business administration major, Alexa aims to navigate the artistic world and inspire others to tap into their own creative intuitions.
Aside from her entrepreneurial suits, Alexa has been influenced by her family as well. “I have been very moved by having such a tight knit Italian family,” she said. “Their cultural influence makes me who I am today. I am always learning through experience and visually documenting through photography on family holiday. This has helped me in my artistic pursuits.”
Her cultural perspective and familial influence facilitated her transition to Marist as well. At school, Alexa infused her family traditions with members of the Italian-American Society as the President and club leader. She has also been able to cherish a sense of community on campus with her cousin and classmate, Johnmarco Coppola. “It has been such a blessing to be able to call Alexa one of my closest friends and family members,” Johnmarco said. “I have watched her overwhelming ambition flourish into entrepreneurship and leadership in recent years. She has been managing her own jewelry business, while holding a position on the board of one of the school’s largest clubs, while juggling a full course load.”
Alexa has also found her own tight-knit group of friends on campus who admire her optimism and inspiring endeavors. “Alexa is one of the most innovative, motivated, and creative students,” said Alyssa Lo Re, ‘19, a close friend of Alexa’s. “Her positivity is an inspiration that we all genuinely appreciate at Marist.”
Alexa continues to navigate life with an open mind, and a knack for observation. In her designs, projects, and versatile artwork, Alexa is in many ways revolutionizing self-expression, and inspiring others to do so themselves.“I think everyone is artistic deep down inside,” she reflected. “They just don’t know it. They have to test the waters.”