It just so happens that there is a shop in Oak Park, Illinois that is not your typical jewelry shop. True that this shop offers gold, silver, customized jewelry, watches, and jeweled pieces that you can add to your collection, but did you know they specialize in eco-friendly jewelry?
Jose “Joe” Torres is the father and founder of the EcoKarat Jewelry Shop nestled at 131 N. Marion Street, Illinois. He runs and operates the shop almost every day and has been serving clients for more than 20 years.
He was introduced to the jewelry business by one of his uncles in Ecuador when he was 12 years old. He started to develop his attention to detail, hone his creativity, and build skills in jewelry-making. He was keen and careful. He took the lessons by heart. He understood that satisfied customers are the key to any successful business.
As much as he was learning a lot from his uncle, he did not stay too long in South America. The family decided to immigrate to the United States in his early 20’s.
A new place, new beginnings, Joe had to adjust to a new life. That meant finding the means to financially support the family. Joe started designing jewelry as early as 24 years old. He did stick to conventional materials at first, but he wanted to do more. There are other materials he can utilize. There are ways to make jewelry from glass, shells, wood, and recycled materials. Hence, the idea of eco-friendly jewelry was born.
“I wanted to create jewelry that is eco-friendly, so I started to reuse and recycle metals.”, exclaimed Joe.
He had ideas, designs, know-how, and skills. He needed a place to cater to patrons and potential clients. He needed a shop. The first shop was situated at 1117 Lake Street.
Like any other starting business, it was not a walk in the park. Joe experienced challenges. It was difficult. The business training Joe had in his youth kicked in. He cannot do this alone.
With the help and encouragement of his family, his two brothers, and closest friends, EcoKarat Jewelry Shop was established. Joe’s shop started to become known and it was getting customers. They spent a couple of years in Lake Street, but Joe’s vision to offer eco-friendly jewelry to a lot more people, intensified. EcoKarat Jewelry needed better exposure.
Then, one day, Joe got a call from the real estate agent for downtown Oak Park. There was an available unit. Joe jumped-in and took the offer. This was the chance to relocate EcoKarat Jewelry Shop to its current home.
The shop kept its patrons and gained more clientele. Acquaintances grew in number which is always good for business. EcoKarat Jewelry gets to participate in public events and local street festivals too.