Spectrum Art & Jewelry
From 1987 to 1996, I was a self-employed jewelry designer and manufacturer in Santa Fe. By the early '90s, Santa Fe's real estate and tourism were in downward cycles. Fashion styles shifted, and offshore jewelry manufacturers mimicked my style for a lower price. I had to reinvent my career.
In 1997, I came to North Carolina to see if Chapel Hill would be a good fit for my new business. On a whim, I decided I wanted to see the beach -- even though it was January. So my friend and I drove to Wilmington for the day.
It was charming as heck.
I only had the clothes on my back, but we found a hotel. By the week's end, I leased a business space and made an offer on a house. I opened my store, Spectrum Art & Jewelry, in May 1997.
Unfortunately, within my first three years of business, there were five named hurricanes that landed directly on Wilmington, which made me question my decision to move here.
But Wilmington has a vibrant arts and tourism industry. The business climate was warm and accepting compared to Santa Fe, where competition was fierce, even among friends. Within the Wilmington arts community, we are cordial and have an unspoken agreement to not step on each other's toes with our products.
I watched Wilmington develop over the last 12 years. It's still not a great community for jobs, but it is an attractive business climate and an excellent community for creative people. -Christina Crapanzano
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