By Michelle Graff
The map that Theresa Harper Bruno, the designer behind Jordan Alexander, posted on her brand’s Instagram account the day she started her virtual bike ride from Alabama to Nevada.
It’s a journey of self-discovery that’s befitting of today’s virtual world--1,913 miles to a trade show without encountering a single pothole, storm or run-down motel along the way.

Theresa Harper Bruno, the designer behind Jordan Alexander jewelry, decided this past spring that she would log the miles between her home in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, and the Wynn Las Vegas on her Peloton exercise bike.

Here’s how the stationary fitness cycle works: Users pay $1,995 for the bike and, if they so choose, a monthly fee of $39 to do on-demand or live spinning classes streamed over the internet.

Bruno bought her Peloton in August 2016. As she continued to log miles on her new bike and Couture got closer, she started thinking about the how difficult it would be to ride a bike all the way from her home in Mountain Brook, Alabama, to Las Vegas, and how the difficulties of that journey parallel the challenges of assembling a collection for the show.

Both, Bruno decided, involve the same sort of discipline--doing it each day, even when you don’t feel like it, because you can’t risk the work piling up--and involve working toward a set time and place for completion, albeit one would be physical while the other is metaphorical.

Couture is “daunting to the spirit of a creative person. It’s definitely putting your heart out there … all the stores and editors come to see it. It requires such an opening up of your insides as a creative person.”

And, she added, “You are definitely creating to a finish line.”  

Given the parallels, Bruno decided to embark on the 1,913-mile journey from eastern Alabama to Las Vegas on March 1, which meant that in order to make it to the Wynn by June 2, she would have to log 20 miles every day--a nearly two-hour commitment--adding miles when she misses a day.

“That’s where it really gets tough,” she said.

20170526 Theresa and earringsJordan Alexander designer Theresa Harper Bruno and a pair of earrings she designed featuring Tahitian and freshwater pearls in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds ($11,155)
As of May 25, she was 1,803 miles into her journey, virtually cruising past Kingman, Arizona.

What Bruno has learned on her now nearly complete “Journey for Discovery” is what so many people (including myself as an avid runner) have come to know about exercise--that it is a great time for working through your thoughts.

It’s helped her to reflect on key questions, like, what do I want from this Couture? And, even better, what do I want to feel like by the end of the show?

Bruno is a not a trained bench jeweler; Los Angeles-based bench jeweler Murat Uguz makes her pieces.

But she is a Julliard-trained pianist who grew up with a love for jewelry thanks to a very fashionable grandmother, something to which I can relate. She buys the gemstones and sketches out the designs herself and, like almost every other designer at the show, feels very personally invested in her line, which is named for her two sons.

“You can go into Couture and … allow yourself to get hurt or down. It’s a crazy competitive business. Or, you can go into it with the spirit of, ‘I want to build everybody up around me.’”

“That time exercising is definitely a thoughtful time,” she said. “You just work your stuff out on that bike.”

Admittedly, Bruno did not start her virtual journey with much of a social media plan in mind, which many would consider a faux pas in this age of (over)sharing. She used a hashtag, #roadtocouture, on that first post, and that was about it.

Along the way, though, Bruno, who does not have a personal Facebook or Instagram page, seems to have shed some of her social shyness (which is also something to which I can relate).

She’s posted about the #roadtocouture multiple times, allowing her 11,000 Instagram followers to track her journey west.

“You get to places in life where you are willing to be more open. It’s just the right place, right time, and that’s what it was for me,” she explained.

“It’s very much an opening up, if you will.”

Jordan Alexander is exhibiting with brand development agency For Future Reference at Couture, Booth #601 in the Lafite Ballroom.

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