Get to Know Cinnamon Alvarez – The Owner of A19
Meet Cinnamon Alvarez, owner of A19, a company that makes artisan, ceramic wall sconces and pendant light fixtures. The firm is committed to creating experiential spaces based on the design, placement, cast, and artistry of its fixtures. As Cinnamon states, to make a living as artisans has been one of the most rewarding aspects of owning a business and one of the biggest challenges over the years. Cinnamon started the business because ceramic fixtures could be painted to look like anything, were affordable and had a longer lifespan than traditional metal fixtures. As she adds, it's a versatile product that can complement just about any interior design.
Cinnamon chose to locate her company in San Bernardino County to be near family. But more than that, San Bernardino County is an affordable option for a manufacturer to remain in California. Cinnamon has been a long-time participant in the Manufacturer’s Council of the Inland Empire, which she considers an amazing support group.
“Another great reason to operate in the county is the amount of support for our industry. Manufacturing is one of the key industry sectors in San Bernardino County. Between economic development, workforce development, and the manufacturer's council, there are so many resources for this industry. I feel like San Bernardino County really wants their business community to be successful,” says Cinnamon.
When asked about being a woman in a male-dominated industry she cites a time when she first went to the Dallas Market Center for the Dallas International Lighting Show and saw a wall of photos that were all men. She dreamed of the day when her picture would be proudly displayed there. Now Cinnamon notes, the community is so supportive of women and helping women to succeed in business. As she states, “It's much easier and so much more exciting!”
Her advice for female entrepreneurs is to take the time to reconnect with the bigger why of what the mission and vision is for your business and how you can serve clients and the community at large. “When we come from a place of service and think about the difference we can make in the world, that motivation and inspiration make everything work,” she says. Another piece of advice Cinnamon offers is to network and mentor with others who have already made it. “I feel like there is a world of opportunity. Especially in industry sectors that weren't traditionally for women, such as construction and manufacturing. There's a lot of support and a big need for women in the workplace because of the contributions we can make,” she adds.
Cinnamon also shares how important it is to innovate and avoid being stagnant. For example, A19 originally sold to brick-and-mortar lighting stores. But now, the firm is manufacturing and selling to online retailers and direct to the consumer, a change driven by the impact of COVID.
“Business to business relationships is great, yet now that we’re working more directly with the end user, we're getting the positive feedback we didn't get before,” says Cinnamon. “We get to see the dream projects that our lighting goes into. It's exciting to communicate with the client and see photos afterwards.”
Another advantage realized during COVID was the increased emphasis and focus on supporting local business. As Cinnamon adds, “That has been amazing for us as well. Everyone now knows that there are real people behind the products being made. People are voting with their dollar and choosing to support local. It’s great - whether you’re a restaurant business or a manufacturer, it’s a good time to do more work within our local communities.”