As a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, Kerri Kahn said she had a difficult time finding products that promoted a sober lifestyle that she would be proud to wear herself.
“There is nothing that I would [want] to wear as a recovering addict,” the Flower Hill resident said. “Nothing edgy or cool.”
Kahn said she also often struggled trying to find gifts to give to someone she knew who was celebrating “a sober anniversary.”
“[Everything] was very cheap [and] in poor taste,” she said. “ [There was] nothing out there that I would want to surround myself with as a reminder of my recovery and mindful living.”
Armed with a background in women’s accessories, Kahn said she had been a part of a number of successful companies.
But, Kahn said, she lost her last company due to her drug and alcohol addiction.
“[I] always wanted to get back to what [I] did in some form, Kahn said. “[I wanted] to get back into the game”
In October 2014, Kahn got “back in the game” when she launched 24ave.com, an e-commerce website dedicated to “redefining sobriety in the 21st century.”
24ave sells cards, journals, apparel, jewelry, art and accessories that Kahn said are meant “to make people feel good about their sobriety [and] their recovery.”
Products on the site contain messages including “progress not perfection” and “one day at a time.”
24ave also offers customers the opportunity to purchase jewelry that is hand-stamped with the date they became sober.
“[24ave] is about mindful living,” Kahn said. “Being sober and in recovery is a priceless [gift.]”
Prior to the launch of 24ave, in October 2013, Kahn was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when she met Albertson resident Francine Aulicino.
Aulicino, who struggled with prescription painkillers after suffering an injury, was at the meeting because of a suggestion from her counselors in rehab.
Her rehab counselors, Aulicino said, told her to go the meeting, even though she did not have a drinking problem, so that she could find a sponsor.
Aulicino said that at the time she “was very new to sobriety.”
After Kahn spoke at the meeting, Aulicino said, Kahn’s words “resonated with her.”
“She was edgy and cool,” Aulicino said. “I loved what she said”
Aulicino said she asked Kahn to be her sponsor, and Kahn accepted the offer.
The two began working toward recovery together and got to know one another.
In 2013, when Kahn and Aulicino were spending time together at Starbucks, Aulicino said, she mentioned her background in social media, marketing and promotion.
Aulicino said Kahn’s eyes “lit up” after she told her about her experience in promotion and social media, and that Kahn told her “[they] have to talk.”
Describing herself as a “natural networker,” Aulicino said, in the summer of 2008 she began to dabble in social media and was independently promoting her friends products and businesses from her Albertson home.
Aulicino said this gave her great experience in social media and marketing.
After waiting for a few months to talk, in early 2014, Kahn presented Aulicino the opportunity to become a part of the 24ave team.
Aulicino said Kahn told her that 24ave’s “missing piece” was someone who had a background in social media and marketing.
“[It was] a great opportunity,” Aulicino said. “It was a way for me to give back.”
Once Aulicino was on board, she said both she and Kahn worked up to seven days a week for nine months to get the website together.
Both Aulicino and Kahn said 24ave is meant to help rid the negative social stigma that is attached to addiction.
“[Addicts are a] lost segment of population,” Kahn said. “People look at us as drug addicts and alcoholics. I’m still a person. I still like nice things. I’m not a piece of trash. We want to make people feel good about their sobriety, their recovery and I want them to know it is okay.”
Kahn said that “breaking anonymity” is an integral part of 24ave.
“[Aulicino and I] want people to see we are moms,” she said. “I am very open about my addiction.”
Aulicino is the mother of 7-year-old triplets and Kahn has two children who are 21 and 17 years old.
“[We want people to] be in recovery and be proud of it,” Aulicino said. “[We want them to] celebrate recovery. A life in recovery is an amazing life.”
Kahn said “being an alcoholic and addict is the best thing that ever happened to [her.]”
“I get to live two lives in one lifetime,” she said. “I get a do over with my life”