Located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, Baton Rouge is home to the second largest oil refinery in the country, as well as sports greats like Shaquille O’Neal, Lolo Jones and Willie Davenport. In 2005, the city’s population temporarily exploded after Hurricane Katrina, accepting as many as 200,000 displaced residents. Sandy Lux, owner of Saunders Lux Jeweler, in Baton Rouge remembers those days well. Not only was he reeling from the aftermath of the hurricane, but he was also in the middle of making one of the biggest career moves of his career – opening his own retail store.
Hurricane or not, Sandy held tight to his vision for his store, his love for all things jewelry and a tremendous dedication to his community. He and his wife, Dana had signed a letter of intent for the retail space they now occupy before Katrina reaped her devastation, which was the only reason he was able to secure the space. With the widespread destruction left behind from Katrina, an enormous influx of displaced people created a rush on business real estate property in nearby cities, including Baton Rouge, as people tried to put their lives and businesses back together.
“There was such a tremendous demand for construction contractors in Baton Rouge because they were all going to New Orleans to help rebuild the city,” recalls Sandy. “It took me three months just to remodel our space because I couldn’t locate any remodelers or electricians. My wife and I ended up laying the wood floors and did a lot of the remodel on our own because everyone was in New Orleans.”
While construction challenges besieged the young store an unexpected benefit was also realized. The government shut down New Orleans, controlling who could come and go. This left Baton Rouge residents with no one to rely on but each other. Such a restrictive circumstance resulted in the development of tremendous bonds among city residents. Sandy remembers how “wonderfully loyal” these new families were to the local businesses, and the immediate friends he and his wife made after they opened their store.
Extensive experience in wholesale supported Sandy’s confidence regarding opening his own store. Looking back now with 9 years of retail experience he’s quick to say: “Wholesale and retail are two very different animals. I’m glad that I hired a business advisor in the beginning. He helped me to pinpoint issues that could’ve hurt me early on.”
Today, Saunders Lux Jeweler is located just one block from Baton Rouge’s upscale Towne Center. Their two story, white southern plantation-style building features a 2nd story balcony and old-time Southern charm. The minute you walk inside you’re immediately struck by how diverse and different the merchandise is, and customers can’t help but notice the store’s nod to jewelry as art. Sandy’s passion for color, design, and service are paramount to the store’s success.
Carrying everything from bridal jewelry to crystal and silver giftware, Saunders Lux is a step back into Southern style. Customers from miles around make the trip just to see what is new and different in the cases. Specializing in antique jewelry restoration and repair, as well as custom jewelry design brings customers in from many parts of the country. Sandy has dedicated himself to stocking unique, one of a kind pieces from various jewelry artists, as well as his own designs, and remains committed to the idea that “unique is better.” His store has complete manufacturing and repair facilities on-site.
“When I was in 8th grade I watched my father, who was an engineer, take loose stones and create a piece of jewelry for my mom. I thought that was the coolest thing and I carefully watched her reaction, noting just how much she loved it. He showed me the basic ‘hows’ and I started making my own jewelry, even continuing to earn money on the side in college by making it and teaching jewelry casting classes.”
Those years of college and jewelry school earned Sandy a Doctor of Jewelry Arts degree and have afforded him the opportunity to work on some amazing jewels and collaborate with very successful people. “I enjoy attending trade shows and supporting my Louisiana Jewelers Association. I’m motivated to higher levels of creativity and skills through these associations and networks of fellow jewelers.”
Saunders Lux Jeweler also appreciates the help of its employees. From ‘Mom Violet’ to Lorinda and Josie, and Master Jeweler Kevin; customers are treated as family with perfection and creativity in mind. They know that sometimes you only have one chance to work with someone, so make it enjoyable, and do it right.
Sandy and his wife constantly strive to highlight the art of jewelry. Each piece is unique and hand-selected by Sandy and team. Treating his store more like an art gallery than a jewelry shop is a point of pride, one that apparently hits home with his customers.
“The biggest compliment we can get is when people walk in to our store and say how different our store is – not like the other jewelry stores. They feel the friendship of our store. We are a family business and we are proud to be independent.”
Reach out to Sandy at saunders-lux.com or 225-928-5777.