Allison Priebe of Queen Bee Designs is one of the nation’s premiere jewelry designers. Allison is a life-long Washingtonian and has been heralded by The Washingtonian magazine as one of DC’s Top Style-Makers. She completed her studies at the prestigious Smithsonian studio arts program in jewelry design after leaving her job in the United States Senate. Her designs are worn by First Ladies, Senators, Congresswomen and a long list of fans including Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Barbara Bush, Nancy Pelosi, and dozens of members of the Senate and House.
Allison is the proud daughter Florence and retired Army officer, Louis Priebe. She resides in Alexandria with her daughter Cynthia McClain Brooks, a freshman at Episcopal High School. Allison runs a 2,000 square foot showroom and gallery in Bradlee Shopping Centerat 3690 King Street (next to The Alexandria Pastry Shop). I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Allison to learn more about her business.
1. Describe your boutique and why you decided to go in business?
I started my jewelry design business 16 years ago with the notion of following my dreams and seeking my bliss. I had worked in the United States Senate for Senator Max Cleveland from the great state of Georgia. Sadly, this Democratic senator only lasted one term and I needed to find something different to do with my career. I took jewelry design classes at the Smithsonian and Queen Bee Designs was born! For years I only did trunk shows until recently and now I have started doing pop-up boutiques.
Queen Bee has an amazing space located in the busy Bradlee Shopping Center in the West End of Alexandria on Upper King Street. Our space is large! We are 2000 square feet and everything we have for sale is made by a woman or by at least a partly woman-owned business. We have two dozen different artists and business owners which I have curated within my pop-up space.
2. Why Queen Bee? Where does that name come from?
I love the beautiful iconic Napoleonic Bumble Bee. The truth of the matter is a bumblebee has a very large body and tiny wings. The bumblebee does not realize it is aerodynamically challenged and it flies because it is a hard worker. Each necklace and bracelet in our Queen Bee jewelry line has our iconic bumblebee charm on it. Women within the DMV know that our jewelry stands out and looks for our iconic bee.
3. How long will you be in Bradlee Shopping Center? Will this be your new permanent location?
We started our pop-up experience at our current location in October 2017. We are located next to the legendary Alexandria Pastry Shop. We hope to be there as long as possible, but they are rumoring a bank is coming in to take over our space this spring. At this point we expect to be there through mid-March. My hope is that we will be able to stay longer. We are considering going into a semi-permanent location, but the Queen Bee loves to fly and really enjoys doing temporary pop-ups and trunk shows. That is our preference. However, we do love being in a semi-permanent location during the year to best meet the needs of our clients.
4. Has your boutique benefited from being on the West End? If so, how?
Queen Bee loves the spirit in the West End! We have gone to WEBA meetings and loved meeting fellow West End business owners. I am an active member of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and there is a lot of great energy and such a terrific vibe in the West End. I think things are really moving and shaking in Alexandria City. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us all in 2019!