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Just off the starting blocks
Mario De Carvalho, owner
Carvalho's Jewelers

Carvalho launched his shop just five months ago, offering 18-karat gold pieces, precious stones and repairs. Thus far, sales have stayed steady, thanks to repairs and the less-expensive, staple items that Carvalho makes to keep his display case stocked.

But that's not the vision Carvalho has for the business. "I want to do more custom work," he says in Portuguese, through a translator. "Right now, I try to do that with repairs, to show people what I am capable of doing. One customer recently brought in an antique watch and I fixed it, but added a unique style to it. The customer loved it."

Carvalho brushes off the notion that people will cut back on luxuries like custom jewelry in a bad economy. In the short time his business has been open, he's had multiple repeat customers for his higher-end work.

Leaving aside the economy, Carvalho knows he has other practical challenges - like learning English. A Brazilian immigrant, Carvalho is studying his new language and working to get his name out there as a designer. He's banking on word of mouth to take his business to the next level.

NEXT: Hoping for change

LAST UPDATE: Mar 02 2009 | 11:06 AM ET
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