St. John’s Jewelers, a family- and woman-owned business that has been operating in Ellicott City for 48 years, is using its influence to help the next generation of small-business owners.
Nearly two decades ago, Linda Miller inherited the business from her father, Irwin Farber, who worked as a watchmaker on Main Street in Old Ellicott City for many years before opening the store on Route 40, according to the business’s website.
Now owned by Miller, a Hampstead resident who has worked for the business since its opening in 1973, St. John’s offers support to other small businesses in the community in addition to its classic and contemporary jewelry.
St. John’s also frequently hires high school and college students while supporting nonprofits like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Zaching Against Cancer — a Howard-based nonprofit organization that offers programs and support to cancer patients, family members and others affected by the disease.
In 2014, Miller hired then-Mt. Hebron High School student Sophie Betlejewski to work as a photographer for the summer.
Four years later, after learning how to run a small business from that experience, Betlejewski went on to manage the clothing department at Sweet Elizabeth Jane, a brick-and-mortar and online seller of accessories, apparel and home decor on Main Street in Ellicott City.
This past June, Betlejewski, 23, opened her own business, Simply the Best Boutique, an online shop selling women’s accessories and apparel.
“I’ve always been really interested in not just fashion, but style and how people kind of hold themselves and dress themselves and have their own personal style,” said Betlejewski, of Ellicott City. “I just kind of took my flair for style and opened this up, and it’s really just a place for people to get the clothes and accessories that they need [and] whatever makes people feel like their most beautiful selves.”
In September, Betlejewski partnered with Miller to host a pop-up shop selling items from Simply the Best Boutique at St. John’s Jewelers.
Miller said she is proud to support her former employee in her small-business endeavors.
“We definitely wanted her to come in and do a clothing show and spread the word that this young girl is a pretty amazing girl and we all want her clothes, so we definitely support her there, too,” Miller said.
Every weekend in October, Simply the Best Boutique will be holding a pop-up shop at The Pink Cabbage antique store on Frederick Road in Ellicott City.
The pop-up shop will feature accessories, apparel and jewelry, allowing customers the chance to shop Simply the Best’s items in person.
Graduating with an associate degree from Howard Community College in 2019, Betlejewski is currently attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County, working toward a bachelor’s degree in media and communication studies.
Betlejewski said she is grateful to receive support from other small businesses in the community.
“It really just means that somebody believes in you and what your message is,” Betlejewski said. “Taking the platform that they’ve built and allowing me to piggyback off of it or share that success is probably one of the greatest gifts you could ever give anybody.”