An interview with Karen Hollis, owner of K. Hollis Jewelers in Batavia.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Web address: www.khollisjewelers.com
A: K. Hollis Jewelers is a full-service jeweler with a passion for bringing your jewelry ideas to life. We carry thousands of jewelry items from dozens of designer jewelry lines along with our own one-of-a-kind jewelry designs. Customers will find a wide selection of engagement rings and wedding bands. Our custom jewelry design, jewelry repairs, stone settings and jewelry appraisals are all performed on-site by our master jeweler, designers and artisans. Over 11,000 customers since 2005 have trusted K. Hollis Jewelers.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: I started making jewelry out of my house and pretty soon I had almost 800 customers. Rob, my husband, and I looked at purchasing an existing jewelry store, but did not like the look or feel of any of the businesses that were for sale. We decided that it made more sense to start a business from scratch so that we could build a business that reflected us and the vision we had for becoming entwined in the community and the lives of our customers. We found available space a short distance from where we lived and as we walked through the vacant, dingy space Rob asked me to close my eyes and tell him what vision I had for the store. I closed my eyes and immediately saw the vision of the store that I wanted to have. I saw sage walls, wood floors, home decor, and family pictures on the wall. I saw smiles, I felt hugs and I heard laughter. We've tried to stay true to that vision as we've grown over the years. We've grown from that first 800 customers in our dining room at home to over 4,000 square feet of retail space serving customers from all over northern Illinois.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: Learning that we don't have to do everything ourselves. We've been fortunate to be able to surround ourselves with wonderful staff and have partnered with others that have helped make it possible for us to grow.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: No question -- meeting so many wonderful new people every day and becoming firmly embedded in the community. We've been able to create an experience and a brand that reflects who we are. I have the best job in the world -- shopping for old and new friends then sharing a little piece of their day with them. Sometimes happy; sometimes sad, but I go home every night having made a new friend or having made someone smile.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: No, I was not a jewelry person when I was young. I always wanted to be a teacher. I taught special education for 15 years before opening a jewelry store.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Visions of the next new creation we will make at the store. I am always trying to design new things and come up with new sayings that you can't find anywhere else.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Get out, meet people, network, and surround yourself with people that share your passion and enthusiasm for life. If you don't; it's just a job.
• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at firstname.lastname@example.org.