Caitlin Hicks is much more into the artistic endeavor of making jewelry than she is the retail act of selling it. So when you walk into her recently opened jewelry and design store in Monticello, you don’t see cases of well-lit wonders.
You instead see a conference table where she sits down for frank talks with customers.
“This is basically a studio space, a place where we can have a conversation. It’s a space where we can sit and talk,” said Hicks, a 2004 Monticello High School graduate who opened Caitlin Hicks Private Jewelry and Design at 121 N. State St. (the Monticello Professional Center) in Monticello on March 29.
“A lot of it is very personal when you talk jewelry,” she added. “There are memories, moments in time, family heirlooms. These have so much meaning. It’s very much a relationship.”
Hicks has limited inventory but access to more through manufacturers she has gotten to know through her 13 years in the retail jewelry business.
But creating pieces is her main passion.
“My favorite thing to design is taking something that already exists and turning it into something else. That is really magical, to see it have new life,” she said. “This is very much a creative outlet for me.”
Hicks, born and raised in Monticello, was artistic from a young age as she watched her mom (Melinda Duncan) make jewelry for local clients. Creative vocations are also prevalent with other family members – one brother is a glass blower, another a graphic designer, with a professional artist aunt thrown in for good measure.
Originally into painting and sketching as she took art classes at Parkland College, Hicks eventually took a job at a Champaign jeweler, where she worked for 13 years.
So now, instead of oil or water color on canvas, it’s creating with a stylus on a tablet.
Hicks designed jewelry for about 10 months out of her Monticello home, with enough clientele built up to open up a separate space in the Professional Building. About three months was spent to make the office inviting, from flooring replacement to clearing curtains to allow more natural light come in. A logo was also put on the outside windows.
“This is not a traditional jewelry store,” she admits.
But that’s the idea.
“I don’t want to make a space where people walk in and instantly feel intimidated. Or pressured, or watched. I don’t like that feeling,” added Hicks. “I want them to feel they can talk to me.”
Hicks is currently open by appointment only, but is contemplating set hours on Thursday afternoons once the Monticello Farmer’s Market opens.
She can be reached at 217-898-4198, by email at email@example.com, or by messaging her through her Facebook page.