I AM passionate about entrepreneurship, especially with innovators who use their artistic skills to sell a novel product. Joselito Joyle Alipala, founder of the Bohol Gemstone Artworks, is such a starter who just opened his store at the Petron gas station compound, Eastern Poblacion, Alburquerque (almost fronting the church). He sells these interesting products, first in Bohol that are peculiarly imbued with his fine arts skills: ring stones, carved stones, paperweights, pendants, cabochons, palm stones, pocket stones, gem pipes, necklace, gem painting and gem collage or mosaic.
Alipala is a fellow visual artist. I interviewed the artist-owner at his store in Albur; let me share our conversation:
Lucell: How did you come up with this idea?
Joyle: During my childhood, I started picking up pebbles along the asphalt road and along the beach. I started picking up unusual kinds of stonescolorful stones, pebbles, rocks. When I grew up, it became a hobby. Then I read books, went to the museum and searched the internet. For several years, I have collected these stones until I bought power tools and started to experiment.
Lucell: When did you start to create jewelries from semi-precious stones?
Joyle: Since three years ago.
Lucell: How did you learn the techniques of making these jewelries?
Joyle: I am self-taught; I even accidentally cut my fingers. I also watched gemstone artists through YouTube. I dont have lapidary machines but work with what is available.
Lucell: When you started, how did you obtain your initial capital?
Joyle: Most of my capital comes from the sales of my paintings and also from the money I got from assisting professional researchers who are archeologists. I use the money I earn as fares going to places to find the stones and buy materials.
Lucell: What is the initial capitalization of equipment?
Joyle: One needs to have power tools like a Lotus or Dremmel, a hand-held grinder and a table top grinder. All you need to do is change the diamond embedded wheel (of a power tool).
Lucell: For this type of product, what are the needed costs?
Joyle: In this kind of passion, one needs to travel. Going to places like Leyte, I need the fares, board and lodging. As one expands his explorations, he needs money. Moreover, one needs to buy polishing powders.
Lucell: And how about assistants?
Joyle: I just ask my daughter and brother to assist me. But most of the works, I do them myselfcollecting the stones, shaping, polishing them, even bead working, wire-wrapping and the like.
Lucell: Lets talk about marketing. How do you market your product?
Joyle: I use online marketing and supply to souvenir shops. I also sell to my friends.
Lucell: What particular souvenir shops are you supplying?
Joyle: I have one in Loay, Loboc, Baclayon and Alona Beach.
Lucell: You did not organize an opening program to open your store with a cutting of the ribbon?
Joyle: No, I am just practical because in this state, every penny counts. The most important thing for me is to open the store.
Lucell: Do you believe that you offer something unique?
Joyle: So far, as I am aware, I am the only one selling this product (in Bohol). In the future, I am planning to make artworks (referring to fine arts, not crafts) using the stones. I also plan to join an art competition using the stones.
Lucell: How do you find the stones that you need?
Joyle: I learned from research that 90 percent of gemstones are volcanic in origin. They can be found in the vicinities where the ancient volcanoes are located. Millions of years ago, there are active volcanoes in Bohol and other places.
Lucell: Do you believe that this business is sustainable?
Joyle: It depends on the support of the public and the government like tourism, the National Museum or any related government agency.
(Visit Bohol Gemstone Artworks at the Petron gas station compound almost fronting the church, Eastern Poblacion, Alburquerque).