This month’s member spotlight is on Shirley Kam, the CEO and president of Love & Promise Jewelers, an ethically sourced jewelry seller in Chicago. Shirley is excited to expand Love & Promise beyond Chicago and explore more opportunities through her new line of products for sensitive skin. Read about the travel spot Shirley wants to cross off her bucket list and how her mother inspired her entrepreneurial journey.
EO Member: Shirley Kam
Company: Love & Promise Jewelers
Years in Business: 34
How long have you been a member of EO Chicago and why did you join the organization?
I have been in EO for almost five years—six if you include Accelerator. I wanted to join an organization with like-minded individuals who had experienced similar challenges and shared my passion for entrepreneurship.
What was your first job?
Runner for a jewelry boutique.
Can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Where did you start and where do you hope to go in the future?
I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2010. This was the year I launched our company’s proprietary line, Rosados Box®. Although my mother’s company did offer fine jewelry, it was always manufactured by a third party. I had always wanted to take the company beyond Chicago, and at that time, the internet marketplace was in its early infancy. Fast forward to today and we are one of the top fine jewelry sellers on Etsy for a few years now!
I see Love & Promise expanding beyond jewelry in the future. Because the heart and soul of our brand is sustainability and community, we feel reaching beyond jewelry is our next step. We’ve been testing the self-care market, especially for sensitive skin, because I feel that is a niche market that has been neglected. As a person with very sensitive skin, I can attest that finding a good quality, fairly priced product is VERY challenging and expensive. Because of my experience, I decided to hand-make my own lotions and serums with ingredients that cater to sensitive and acne-prone skin. Let me tell you, there is a world of difference between handmade skin products with natural ingredients and minimal preservatives and the creams sold at department stores. Everything in our latest artisanal self-care line is made with either natural or natural-based ingredients and minimal preservatives—which are only used to prevent mold. Our self-care brand Purrfect Sunday has been a success so far with our small test market, and we hope to expand beyond just human skincare but also to our furry family friends!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Being part of someone else’s special memory and helping others. Handmade jewelry is such an intimate experience. It is an honor to handcraft a product that is a part of someone’s anniversary, wedding, or other lifetime celebration! The way we can be part of someone’s special memory forever. That’s priceless.
What daily challenges do you face at work?
Finding talent that matches our company’s culture and strict standards. We pride ourselves on our quality and professionalism. Finding talent that matches these needs and also understands our mission is a challenge!
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Anything is possible. My mother has been a great inspiration. If a woman like her, who spoke no English and arrived from China with only $200 in her pocket, could survive and start her own small company, anyone can make it in the U.S. with hard work and laser-like vision and focus.
What are your goals for the future of your business?
We hope to grow our selection of rare gemstones for L&P so that we can serve more customers. With the web growing as an avenue for shopping, there is more reason than ever for us to grow our selection to satisfy our customer’s thirst for unique finds! Should our customers want to stay connected to our shop without spending a lot, we have our self-care brand Purrfect Sunday that offers handmade soy candles to bath soaks for all skin types!
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Growing our social channels for Purrfect Sunday!
Who or what inspires you?
My mom, 100%.
If you could go back in time five years and share advice with your past self, what advice would you share?
Don’t worry. Everything happens for a reason, it just may not seem like it now. Just keep going.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
Inheriting a company that was great on the surface but came with a lot of debt. I’m most proud of the fact we are now debt-free! Almost six years of taking almost no pay for myself while working hard and paying down the debt has finally paid off.
What brought you to Chicago?
I was born and raised here in Chicago.
How do you find work-life balance?
I’d say it’s pretty balanced now.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I always wanted my own company because I never excelled in school.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Pole fitness and spending time with family and my fur babies—two dogs and two cats—are the best things ever!
What’s one thing still left on your bucket list?
Travelling to Machu Picchu and Italy.
What are you currently reading?
How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
My favorite small Italian restaurant is still Lucia’s on North.
What is your favorite part about working in the Chicagoland area?
There’s always something to do.
What is your top Chicago activity?
Walking around aimlessly and enjoying the city!
Where’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
My favorite spot is still Costa Rica. I love how close it is to the U.S. and the people there are just so happy all the time!
Thank you to Shirley Kam for sharing his story for our May member spotlight. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global business network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs in 198 chapters and 61 countries. EO is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
If you’re interested in becoming an EO Chicago member, check our membership requirements and submit an application to join today.