Native of India follows her passion to Charlottetown


Published on May 13, 2017

Pam Arora, right, and store manager Darryl Bernard, are inside the outlet on Kent Street in Charlottetown. Arora and her husband Joe, opened Pam & Joe Handcrafted jewelry earlier this year. Thanks to some government funding she was able to subsidize a wage for store Bernard.

©DAVE STEWART/THE GUARDIAN

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Pam Arora never realized an affinity for precious stones would lead to a dream life in P.E.I. 

Earlier this year she and her husband Joe, opened Pam & Joe Handcrafted jewelry store on Kent Street in Charlottetown, but their story starts long before that.

I kind of got tired of correcting math notebooks and giving homework and checking classwork. I needed a change in my life

Pam Arora

Fifteen years ago, Arora was a map and physics teacher in a private school in India where she was introduced to jewelry by a woman friend.

“I kind of got tired of correcting math notebooks and giving homework and checking classwork. I needed a change in my life,’’ Arora says.

The two women did a show together and Arora was hooked. She started learning more about stones.

Arora’s husband, Joe, convinced her to take a gemology class because he could see the passion growing in his wife.

“I like semi-precious stones because they are beautiful and there are thousands of them. In a semi-precious stone there are those inclusions, those marks inside the piece that prove that it’s a natural stone and makes it more beautiful. I relate to that. My life is full of flaws.’’

Arora did some shows at the embassy in New Delhi, got an amazing response and there was no looking back after that. She managed to save enough money to open her own store.

Soon Joe joined the business, taking care of the books.

“I used to get a lot of European clients. I would keep in mind that the pieces I make are specially for gifting. They should be adjustable so size is not a problem. Those little details I keep in mind and I keep my prices very low and designs very basic and simple.’’

Their transition to Canada began with the fact her parents have been living in Toronto for 28 years and will need to be cared for at some point.

“I used to come in and visit Canada and I loved being here. People were so nice, so nice and different. When I went back to India everyone would ask me how I got such a beautiful colour and that was because I enjoyed being (in Canada).’’

Finally, she and Joe talked about moving to Canada and looked into some immigration programs that might fit them. They came across the Provincial Nominee Program.

“The condition was that we had to present a project plan for business. The plan was to open a retail store like this one. I’m following the plan to the hilt. I’m not just doing this business for the sake of satisfying the conditions. I have fallen in love with this place.

“I love being here because the pace is slow, people are very nice and warm, they have time to smile, they have time to say hello. Even if I’m jaywalking, people stop and let you go.’’

She was even surprised when she went to city hall for a licence to put up her sign that a bribe wasn’t necessary.

“I didn’t have to bribe city hall, which India is known for – nepotism and bribes. It is very deep rooted there.’’

She’s not turning a profit yet, but hopes people will come in and check things out and maybe just share a smile.

 

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