My name is Anthony Joseph Bellabona — I go by AJ. I am 16 years old. If you are reading this, maybe it is because you are interested in my story. How a 16 year boy, who plays hockey, can also be designing and making your diamond necklace. My story starts with a struggle. A struggle beginning in school. For me, the traditional school setting … reading, writing, math, has always been a challenge. I am a dyslexic learner. I use the right side of my brain to read and write. To keep it simple, I attached a Ted Talk below from a good friend of mine, Dean Bragonier, explaining dyslexia. Dean started a charity, NoticeAbility, to help dyslexic learners like myself (I plan to pay it forward to him too). For as long as I can remember my summers were spent in summer school, working to keep up with the rest of my class. School was tough — but it was a unit in school “shop” that lead me to this. I began learning how to melt and mold pewter. I was 12 years old at the time and I was really good at it! I found confidence in that classroom. For me, I would rather be in a shop class, melting pewter than sitting at a desk.
I enjoyed it so much my parents found me a silversmith (and a tutor). Pewter then lead to .925 silver, and eventually 14 karat gold, rose gold, and precious stones. People started asking to buy what I was creating. With the help of my parents, I formed a business, AJ Made LLC. I was becoming an entrepreneur. From there, I created a brand and logo which embraces my dyslexic advantage. The “j” is reversed to raise awareness, plus it looks cool. In 2017, I was featured on NH chronicle as a Kid Entrepreneur. So far, on this journey, I have had the opportunity to meet mentors in the industry and do some pretty cool stuff. When I was 13 years old, I made my first wedding band. I have made pieces for charity events in New Hampshire, including Big Brother’s Big Sister’s, JDRF, the SPCA and will continue to donate my work. I have also pledged to give all proceeds of every hat sale back to NoticeAbility. I have made countless sentimental pieces. What used to be a struggle is now a strength. Fast forward from when I was 12 to now, in between hockey and school, you will find me in the studio. I am proud to say I am an entrepreneur who has officially launched a website of my own. My BIG news is I now hold a Registered US Trademark for my logo and I proudly stamp each piece of jewelry with my brand mark. I am very thankful for my family, instructors and mentors who have helped me along the way. Most of all, I am thankful for you, my customers!
All proceeds of every hat sale will be donated back to NoticeAbility, Inc. NoticeAbility is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students with dyslexia identify their unique strengths and build self-esteem. NoticeAbility incorporates the neuroscience of dyslexia, the best practice of special education, and the power of EDTech to construct learning enrichment curricula and teacher training programs for global distribution.
Ted Talk by Dean Bragonier, explaining dyslexia. “True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind” (below)
Me + My US Trademark
Some photos of me — at Landmark summer school, my first days working with my instructor, doing humanitarian work in Haiti, adventuring with my Dad, meeting mentors with my Mom, my dog Babe, My little brothers + Hockey, my favorite thing, MILK.