Alumni Spotlight: Alana (Sproles) Little
ALANA (SPROLES) LITTLE, JEWELRY DESIGNER
interviewed by Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing and Enrollment
Marissa: What is your occupation?
Alana: Jewelry designer and creator.
M: When did you attend and graduate from Central Valley Christian?
A: Sixth grade to graduation, graduating in 2000 (we broke in the millennium).
What’s your first memory of CVC? What’s your favorite memory of CVC?
First memory is seeing my sister walk through the courtyard to her first day of 9th grade; I was still at [my old school] but it felt so big to me coming from such a tiny school.
My favorite memory of CVC is very hard to narrow down because I have so many. BUT, my favorite was my senior year homecoming when my best friend Julia won homecoming queen. I was a cheerleader, and the football team was actually winning and it was pure joy.
Post-graduation, where did you go? What did you study? Why?
Went off to The Master’s College, studied there for two years, and came home to finish at Fresno State. I earned my B.S. in Business Accountancy then went straight off to Downtown LA to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to study Fashion Design. Business and Accounting were two things that I was naturally good at; I was an entrepreneur from an early age, so it was natural for me. Fashion came in the picture when I started college and realized I was creative while making purses from old jeans (ha!).
From jean purses to pursuing jewelry design and creation..?
Jewelry has been in my bones since I was 10, doing beaded necklaces over at the coast. I started my jewelry company, Make Pie Not War, after my husband encouraged me to leave my corporate accounting job at Univision. I never intended it to be anything serious as I was looking for my next corporate job, but that was 12.5 years ago!
Take our readers through a normal day of work for you. What’s the most difficult thing about your job? The easiest thing?
I roll out of bed, wrestle down my three daughters and get them out the door and off to school (with the help of my A+ husband) and I get to work. Every day looks a tiny bit different. I have to fit in production, customer service, social media, new collection development, show management, networking/press with the help of my assistant in a day. I like to think of myself as a triage nurse saving the thing that is dying first. The easiest thing is really nothing. Being a creative entrepreneur is anything but easy, but if it is in your bones, you literally can do nothing else.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career thus far.
Selling to Zappos was pretty amazing. We were chosen by all the employees out of a bunch of other creative small businesses. We were also on the national commercial Etsy did in Fall 2019, and seeing my earrings along with a little picture of my face and business name [on TV] was pretty surreal.
I saw that commercial! How do you think Christian education helps take on today’s challenges through academia and the holistic process of involving Christ in everything we do?
You won’t realize [the importance of] what you are receiving from CVC until you are much older. You lack the experience to know what a beautiful place it is to have a community of people who love Jesus who are pouring into each child. I realize it’s not perfect, as there is no perfect person, but the pointing to Christ is what your heart will remember later down the road. CVC helped my mind and work ethic mature to a great place so I could excel and be prepared for receiving my higher education.
What would you change about Christian education?
I would make it more empowering. To create open dialogues about people who come from different walks of life, show empathy NOT sympathy. To not throw money at it, but to enter into a world that needs the true Jesus, not the church version. To meet the needs of people who are different than us. Helping financially is great, but entering into relationships, true service and sacrifice, expanding horizons and bridging gaps is the true work of the gospel. Spreading peace and restoration through Jesus Christ can only be done in relationships. More mission work and local outreach programs would be awesome to see.
Absolutely. We have a “Service Day” at the high school, where students go into the community and serve alongside their peers to help where we’re needed most. In other grade levels, we’ve begun cultivating an attitude of service through field trips centered around volunteering. Little by little! Speaking of little–when I was an elementary student, I think I saw you in a dramatic production at CVC–in the gym, of course, before we had the chapel. What other kinds of opportunities did you take hold of while at CVC? Sports? Extracurriculars? Clubs? Honors classes?
I did drama every year. I loved really just acting insane in front of large crowds. It was always good for a laugh. I played softball, volleyball, basketball in middle school, cheerleading my senior year for “funsies” and honestly, we killed it. I was in choir, AP Spanish, AP chemistry and AP physics. I don’t know if we even had any clubs back then!
What would you tell someone who is thinking of attending Central Valley Christian?
I normally tell them it’s the best school in Visalia!
What are the next steps for you—where would you like to go from here?
I have a few big ideas brewing for this year. I am focused on being refocused. I easily fall into being a workaholic, and I would love to live a life that is more centered on joy and healing.
What do you do when you’re not working? What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are my children. Haha! Just kidding. That’s the biggest job you don’t get paid for. In my free time, I love to dream with other small business owners and create art and beauty in Fresno. I also love my guns, my vegetable garden and my Barbie-pink Vespa.
I noticed you didn’t say anything about making pie–was that just a fun turn of phrase? Tell me more about your business name, Make Pie Not War.
I make pie, but it’s not my hobby–the name started as a joke and now I am stuck! My husband had a clothing line, Ephraim Clothing, and I was up late one night with my bestie and we were thinking of corny designs we had seen at Christian festivals. Make Pie Not War came out and it just stuck with me. I really started this whole thing as a hobby not thinking too much of it at the time. I soon found out that people liked it!
I also have a podcast, Blueberry Jam I do for a hobby, and I also created the Fresno Collective, a squad of creative entrepreneurs who create innovative events that make Fresno shine! We are Fresno’s cheerleaders! I also love to work with startup creative entrepreneurs, getting them a running start.
I started a new process last year called Zap and Chat where you can get Forever Bracelets. They are bracelets that are welded onto you and you don’t take off! I do tons of shows and even private parties. You can get charms on them and people love doing them in groups!
That sounds super fun. What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I am actually a submissive wife. It’s very hard to believe, I know.
I’m sure our staff is curious: Who was your favorite teacher?
My favorite teacher is Mr. Elsenbroek. I also apologize to all my teachers as I know I am a [troublemaker], but this woman is burning bright, loving Jesus and I owe so much to them. Thank you for not giving up on me.
I love that. And finally, tell me: how much jewelry is too much?
Jewelry, even a ton, can fit into a small space…so I say, buy the pieces that make your heart smile!
Check out more of Alana’s work here:
Don’t Hate, Create!
Jewelry vocabulary from Make Pie Not War
Mandrel – a cylindrical rod around which metal or other material is forged or shaped.
Lathe – a machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive–my final polisher
Gold filled – jewelry composed of a solid layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base of brass, not to be confused with plating
Firescale – a layer of oxides that is visible on the surface of objects made of metal alloys containing copper when the object is heated, as by a jeweler heating a ring to apply solder during a repair.
Wondering what path your child will follow when he or she graduates? Partner with Central Valley Christian School in Visalia, CA and work with us in helping your child discern God’s call and be prepared for that calling: cvc.org/apply