How did you become interested in selling jewelry?
I used to have a jewelry store in Albuquerque, New Mexico for twenty years. I also represented two artists and that was very successful.
So did you start by selling art and then move on to selling jewelry?
Yes, I started selling the work of R.C. Gorman. The New York Times called him the "Picasso of American Indian art." I still have his lithographs here in my store.
Are you selling both art and jewelry in your store?
Yes. I have a lot left over from the gallery which I had to close in 2008. I also have jewelry from over twenty different designers. In fact, I picked up two more jewelry designers this past weekend at the Arts Festival. I'm experimenting with what's going to sell in Manayunk. I have really lowered prices for certain pieces.
Why move to Manayunk?
My son is a school psychologist in New York. Since 2010 when I closed the gallery, I haven't done anything besides take care of my grandchildren. Since I haven't been working for the past 8 years, I knew New York was going to be expensive. I wanted to choose a place that I might be able to afford and that's not too far from him so that's how I decided upon Philadelphia.
How did you come up with the name of your store?
I'm a Bahá'í. The Bahá'í faith is an independent religion and one of my favorite prayers has the word illumine in it. However, the word "illumine" has 8 letters and I don't know where I learned this, maybe from my mom, that it's better to have a store name with an odd number of letters. So, I got rid of one "l" and added an accent to the "e."
What do you think makes Iluminé unique in comparison to other jewelry stores?
When I was preparing to open Iluminé, I wanted to find designers that really target young people because I see a lot of them wearing jewelry every day so that's how I came up with the slogan "affordable fine jewelry for everyday wear."
Do you have a favorite item in your store?
I really like La Kaiser's collection because it's so fine and it's so beautiful. It's very simple and very elegant. I think that's why I like it.
What would you say is the most challenging part about having your own business?
Well this is the sixth store I have opened in my life. Of the six, three I had taken over. It was an existing place so it was easy, but not too easy. The other three I started from scratch, just like this one, but I found that this store was the most challenging to open because I'm new here. I just moved last October so I don't really know that many suppliers or many people. In Albuquerque, I could call someone and immediately get what I needed because I had made a name there. Here when I call, I have to call again.
Why do you love Manayunk?
When I first started exploring Philadelphia, I realized that people are so friendly. Whenever I needed directions, right away they would guide me. I find that people here are just so helpful. In fact, I had two friends from Albuquerque come and visit me because I was bragging so much about Philadelphia.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127