Get to know: Christy Asturias
Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 15:02
International business senior Silvia "Christy" Asturias was raised learning the jewelry business. Her family owns a 25-year-old shop located in the French Quarter, and now Asturias is taking on the work as her own.
As she was growing up, Asturias' mother taught her how to design jewelry. In the past three years, Asturias has found success with her own designs.
Asturias has designed jewelry for her high school, Ursuline Academy, Lucky Dogs and Café Du Monde. She has also been featured in WGNO's Good Morning New Orleans for a jewelry design she created where all the sales were donated to a family in Haiti.
"Throughout the years, I have seen her become more confident in her designs and master the art of jewelry making. It is rare that a college student can compete with some of the country's major jewelry designers and be on top," said marketing senior Christine Alexis.
Asturias draws all her designs by hand, and uses Adobe Illustrator to create them. Wax molds are then produced and confirmed. The products are assembled in a factory in Thailand, taking four to 10 weeks to be completed. Eventually, Asturias's mother asked her if she wanted to take over the family business.
"I told her I would love to take over her business, but that I wanted my own shop Uptown, in addition to her current French Quarter location. We agreed that once I graduated, she would help me open my own shop Uptown. But things didn't go exactly according to plan," Asturias said.
Due to the real estate situation in America, Asturias and her family decided that it would be best to buy a location sooner rather than later.
"We agreed to make my second shop an ‘expansion, second location' to my mom's shop so I could carry her shop's name and use her reputation... this way, I wouldn't be starting entirely from zero. It was a very strategically smart decision. She has a good reputation for carrying different, unique and affordable sterling silver jewelry, and I shared the same vision," Asturias said.
In addition to her own designs, Asturias also plans to sell high-end jewelry, most of which will be New Orleans themed and made of sterling silver.
Her parents, acting as investors, took out a second mortgage upon finding the location that best suited the proposed store. Over the next 10 to 15 years, Asturias will be expected to pay back the money.
With already a busy lifestyle including school and working at her mom's shop, Asturias spent many restless nights contemplating her decision to start up a new store.
"There were nights that I cried myself to sleep, wondering if I had made the right decision to get myself into this. My grades started slipping a little bit, and I was disappointed in myself for allowing that to happen... school comes first, then work, then fun. Nevertheless, the professors I had last semester were very understanding and supportive," Asturias said.
Opening her new store has come with many challenges that Asturias is learning to face. Besides struggling with the balancing act of school and work, Asturias says that working with her mother is her second challenge.
"This is my own business, but she has the money. We have to make business decisions together. Sometimes it is difficult separating our business relationship and our mother-daughter relationship. We think and act very much alike, which is a good and bad thing. We agree on most things, but what we disagree on can take a while to compromise. I try to keep a healthy relationship with my mom, and I'm doing my best to make sure nothing comes between us."
As she starts up her new business, networking has become a large part of Asturias' life, and through it she has made many friends.
"She never treats her customers like customers, but always with a sense that they are valuable beyond what they spend in her store – rather, that they are valuable as a person. It's remarkable," said one of Asturias' frequent customers, Anthony Maranise.
Her way with customers has already won her connections with many influential people.
Bradley Latham, front office manager at the Hotel Monteleone, recommends Asturias' shop whenever someone is in search of authentic New Orleans jewelry.
Asturias has had to put many of her lessons learned at Loyola into practice with her new business and has learned much from the trial and error experiences that her mother went through before her.
As she finishes up her senior year, Asturias is beginning the career of her life. Sterling Silvia: Christy's Collection is located at 4861 Magazine St.