This is the third part of a series honoring Latinx Heritage Month that features Noble Schools’ Latinx alumni who run their own businesses. Haven’t read the second part about Karina Estada and Dear Me Boutique? Check it out here.
Olga Ramirez graduated from Pritzker College Prep in 2011. She started working after graduating from Pritzker but is now about to finish her associates degree in Business Adminstration. In 2012, Ramirez got into the jewelry business with her husband, Eddie, who has been a jeweler for over 20 years. Now, she and her husband run their own jewelry business, Millennium Park Jewelers & Engravers. They are also working on creating and funding an education wing of their business to teach others about jewelry – the Jewelry Design and Manufacturing Academy. Here’s what she said about their journey:
Q: How did you start your business?
A: “In 2016, we officially became a corporation. Before that, it was all working from home as a small LLC. Eddie started in the jewelry industry when he was 16. His cousin, his friends, and his uncle actually taught him everything in Texas, so he had opened up shops in Texas before I met him. Then, in 2012, he was working for a jeweler and doing his own things on the side. One day, I was just like: ‘Let’s just do it. Let’s open up our own shop.’ Things were really great. We love it. He loves jewelry. I know the whole process – I love the way that you go from a render file on the computer to a finished product. The whole process is just amazing. That’s his passion. He loves it. We complement each other in the way that he loves doing that and then I keep all his records because that’s my passion. You know, administration is my thing. Numbers are my thing.”
Q: How has your business been doing since you started?
A: “It’s just been a little bit harder since COVID. We did have to shut down when the whole quarantine in place happened… so we did go through a hardship where we had to invest more from out of pocket into the business to bring that revenue up. It’s also difficult because we couldn’t pay employees anymore. So, Eddie has to do everything himself. We’re big on doing everything in-house and not outsourcing… But now, we’re almost back to our numbers (before COVID). We’re working on doing more advertising. Engraving has skyrocketed because of word of mouth, so we’ve had a lot of returning customers for engraving and a lot of referrals coming in for engraving, but not as much from jewelry. For jewelry, it’s probably about 20% up from COVID. Gold is so expensive right now, so not a lot of people are buying jewelry.”
Q: Despite some of the hardships, what does it mean to you to have your own business?
A: “The freedom to do what I want. I pretty much work around my schedule. I can work anytime I want. I don’t have someone giving me limitations. We run the business, so Eddie and I have the flexibility to say this doesn’t work for us — let’s change this… And it also gives us happiness and fulfillment. The biggest things for me are being able to help my husband accomplish his dreams and doing something together, and, you know, building something for our kids. I can’t even describe how amazing it is — that feeling that you get when you accomplish something.”
Q: How do you feel like your experience as a Noble student contributed to your success as a business owner?
A: “It helped me organize a lot. I’m a very organized person now. I put priorities first, and if I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it. It may take me a little longer than the deadline, but I’m still gonna do it. It also opened me up more. When I was in eighth grade, I was a shy person. But having that family feel at Pritzker because the staff were just so open and willing to help – they didn’t treat you as a kid, they treated you as an adult – all of that kind of made me be able to communicate with people now. So, I’m no longer shy. I can approach someone and start a conversation. You know, I wasn’t able to do that before.”
Q: What advice would you give to current Noble students who are interested in starting their own business?
A: “Just go for it. Don’t say that it is not the right time because it’s never going to be the right time. If you don’t take that step forward and work hard on it, you’re not going to accomplish it, you’re just gonna keep pushing it off and off. So, if you have an idea, do your research, make a plan and execute the plan. If you need help, there is this organization called SCORE who helps new entrepreneurs.”