Arecibo-based Stilo Grace expands internationally with online platform
Arecibo-based custom jewelry designer Stilo Grace recently got the chance to launch its platform to reach U.S. mainland and international customers, with the help of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation’s Small Business Incubators and Accelerators Program.
The company creates handmade jewelry for men, women, and kids that are structured to fit all sizes. It started after the owner, Grace López-Collazo, lost her job in the pharmaceutical industry and invested approximately $5,000.
López started her project as a hobby, but it wasn’t until she was laid off from her job as a medical representative, which she had done for 38 years, in January that she invested all her time in creating her small business.
“When I was told at work that I was going to be out of a job, that gave me some time to prepare the materials, and then I found out about the SBIA course,” said López-Collazo.
López began Stilo Grace by designing chains that attach to face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. She sold more than 350 pieces in several countries.
“I buy the materials I use in Puerto Rico, and I have tried to get materials abroad, but the tastes are different and the products in Puerto Rico are very good, and so I also take the opportunity to help other merchants promote their products,” said López-Collazo.
Stilo Grace gets its materials from retailers in Yauco, Carolina, Mayagüez, Arecibo, Camuy, Aguada, Caguas and San Juan, and currently employs a CREÁLOS graduate.
“I didn’t have any hobbies, but during the pandemic and the lockdown, I took jewelry classes, and I started making chains for masks and they reached Panama, Spain and the United States,” among other countries such as the Dominican Republic, López said.
“I had past businesses become unsuccessful, and I didn’t know about business permitting, and the incubator gave me confidence and the opportunity to climb step by step; it has helped me to have better structure,” said López-Collazo.
The SBIA program is run by the incubators of three nonprofit organizations: CRÉALOS of the Office for Human Promotion and Development in Arecibo; Headquarters of the Solidarity Incubator of Women of Islands, in Culebra; and Center for Microenterprises and Sustainable Agricultural Technologies, in Yauco.
The initiative is supported by the Puerto Rico Department of Housing through Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, where currently, two of the three incubators are offering entrepreneurship workshops to 38 participants.
The third incubator has already closed its second cycle, and 17 people completed the workshops.
The participants of the three incubators are from 20 different towns in Puerto Rico and have businesses or business ideas related to various industries, including agriculture, food, crafts, costume jewelry, accounting, care services and speech therapy.