Munya Avigail Upin’s award-winning jewelry and sculptures have been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries throughout the world and featured in periodicals, newspapers and books. In addition, she has taught metalsmithing at colleges, craft centers and museum schools around the US.
Kirsten Ball moved to the Boston area from London, UK in 2007 with a background as a gilder in the restoration of historic interiors.She began taking metalsmithing classes locally and quickly found her passion. Before opening the gallery she sold her jewelry at craft fairs and made custom work for private clients.
Q. What is/has been the strongest influence on running a gallery?
Primarily we are looking at the quality of the work. Innovation. Uniqueness. Nothing that is derivative. We are looking for well-crafted, exciting, new work.
Q. When did open your doors?
2012. Our 7th anniversary is coming up.
Q. What have been your artistic and merchandising goals for the gallery?
Make work accessible to as many people as possible. Create a friendly, inviting gallery. We cover a wide spectrum, some art jewelry as well as some very accessible work. Work that is wearable. Handmade.
In 2017 we were named Best of Boston - Wedding Bands. “We promote that we support ethically sourced wedding options in the processes, stones and materials that designers use. ALCHEMY 9•2•5 is a member of Ethical Metalsmiths, as are many of its artists, whose goal it is to use recycled metal and ethically sourced gemstones.”
We strive to carry pieces that are all price points. We do custom work directly with our artists or we will create the custom piece ourselves. We have a number of customers with old stones they want to reset and reuse in contemporary setting.
Younger customers have done their homework and we have discovered their choices are important to them. They come into the store having done their research and have a good idea about what they want.
Q. How do you make decisions with two owners?
It is good to have a partner you can bounce things off of. A lot of times we are on the exact same page.
Owners Munya Avigail Upin and Kirsten Ball
Q. Why do you think you have been so successful?
We offer something that not many other stores offer in this area. A lot has to do with the atmosphere in the gallery. We get numerous compliments from customers about our store and service. We feel we are personable and it is important to us to get to know our customers. We don’t want them to feel intimidated, just comfortable. Our customer base is very loyal. At Alchemy 9•2•5 we want to have something for everyone. Our aim is for the experience to be extraordinary.
We participate in numerous community events, such as Midnight Madness in December, when Belmont encourages stores to stay open late into the evening. All the stores serve wine and food, kicks off the holiday season.
Our goal is to have trunk shows once a month as well as different events. Recently we have included invitational shows and sponsored a showing of “Sharing the Rough” with the Minerological and Geological Museum at Harvard.
Q. How have you learned about running a retail business?
We are still learning. “I had worked in retail since I was 15 so I had a little experience selling but not running.” Munya stated. We have great support, a bookkeeper and social media. Our goal is to find advice from those who know.
Q. What do you like most and least about running a gallery?
Most - We love the artists, developing relationships with them and servicing a wonderful base of customers with whom we have become friends with over time is so important to us. When you find someone something special that makes them feel confidence, powerful and they leave the shop happy and excited, it is the best feeling in the world. Retail is hard work but so rewarding.
Least - Computers! Also when we rotate our artists and have to let one go, it is very difficult. Also it is frustrating to bring in an artist to whom our customers don’t respond.
Q. Where did you get the name ALCHEMY 9•2•5?
We did a lot of long lists and asked friends. Initially we thought of just Alchemy then added the 925. Sterling silver. Alchemy is taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.
Q. What are your plans going forward?
We want to grow the contemporary bridal/wedding collections. “ALCHEMY 9•2•5’s collection includes a stunning array of rings in a variety of metals including: gold, platinum, palladium, mokume gane and titanium.”
We would like to continue carrying emerging artists and we have some exciting events coming up this year. On May 6th British artists will be showing their work here. “Crossing Continents.”
Q. I can’t end without asking you what advice you have for designers who want to get their work into your gallery?
Do your homework!!! When you are going out to approach a gallery about carrying your work, see what the gallery currently has and what style, work they carry and put together a professional collection for them to view. Business cards, professional photos, order forms. Have a cohesive body of work. List of materials and pricing. Make sure you understand the difference between wholesale and retail. Have the complete package. Don’t waste the store or buyer’s time approaching a gallery that is not the right fit for you.
Q. What is ALCHEMY 9•2•5’s mission statement?
To offer beautifully designed and perfectly crafted artisan work at a variety of price points to a broad audience.
ALCHEMY 9•2•5….making the ordinary, extraordinary.