A Destin pearl

Local artist makes hand-crafted jewelry

Savannah Vasquez
Hand-made jewlery is Munika Karimova's specialty. [SAVANNAH VASQUEZ/THE LOG]

Sometimes great things come out of adversity, at least that is what local jewelry artist Munika Karimova accredits to her successful clothing and jewelry shop, Munika Karim Boutique in Destin Commons.

“For 12 years I was a stay-at-home mom,” Karimova said. “But when my ex-husband decided to leave I had to survive somehow, so I started this business with only $10 to my name.”

Karimova said she started out small, selling her mother-of-pearl and leather necklaces at local farmer’s markets and slowly branched out to offer precious stones, silver, gold, pearls and customized jewelry placed on quality leather and silk bands.

“It wasn't easy to arrange everything with small kids and without any help,” she said. “My mother came to visit me from time to time, which was a huge help to me, but other than that I had no relatives and no friends.”

Besides being a single mother of four small children, Karimova said that she struggled to start a business in country far away from her native home.

“I’m from Uzbekistan, which is part of the former Soviet Union,” she said. “I speak Russian, Uzbek, Turkish and Persian (Farsi), but I had to speak English and have an accent, which sometimes makes it hard for people to understand me.”

But Karimova didn’t let any hardship get her down. In fact, she said the necessity to provide for her children made her push through it all to succeed.

As her jewelry offering grew, Karimova said that her customers began to ask for clothing options to pair the jewelry pieces with, so she delved back into her past for inspiration.

“I started bringing in Bohemian clothes,” she said. “I bring all the clothes from Russia where I am from. All the clothes I bring are natural fabrics that are very soft such as cotton and rayon. I try to carry things that no one else has so I travel to China, Japan, Bali, Australia and French Polynesia to get the pearls.”

In addition to clothes and jewelry, Karimova just started to offer henna body art.

“It’s a traditional thing coming from my childhood,” she said. “A lot of people here do henna but it’s not actually henna, it’s ink and stencils. But I do hand-drawn henna from the actual henna herb. I offer black, brown and white henna.”

As for her location within the Destin Commons, Karimova said she feels very thankful for the supportive local community.

“In two years I opened my first store at the Santa Rosa Mall, it was a small corner shop, but it was mine ... I was super happy,” she said. “But the store was very small, and business was growing. I had an opportunity to relocate to Destin Commons with a huge help of Robert Perry (general manager), who believed in me and helped to open a store here in Destin Commons. It’s my second year here. My $10 business grew big.”

Munika Karim Boutique is located at 4263 Legendary Drive in Destin Commons, next to H&M. For more information visit her on Facebook by searching Munika Karim Boutique or call 642-3189.