SEPKUS IN THE CITY
Byline: Lisa Bertagnoli
The day Alex Sepkus’s first and only retail shop opened, he sold six pieces of jewelry, including two of what he called “major” pieces. “If it would go on like this, I would be happy,” said Sepkus.
While the Lithuanian-born Sepkus has a manufacturing facility in New York, he chose Chicago as the site of his first store. “Chicago is better for a first store, especially in a location like this” — meaning Oak Street, Chicago’s gold-standard shopping stretch.
There were other reasons to come to Chicago, too. Sepkus pointed out that he has a partner, Debbie Friedmann, in Chicago as well. And then there’s New York’s expensive and scarce real estate. “This size [store] was unavailable on Madison Avenue or in SoHo,” said Sepkus, referring to the 1,000-square-foot space.
The long, narrow, split-level store has white walls, soft lighting and live orchids blooming in unexpected locations. The spare decor provides a suitable backdrop for Sepkus’s fanciful, Baroque-like designs, wrought in gold and platinum. Rings boast asymmetrical filigree designs studded with diamonds and sapphires. One platinum bracelet, priced at $22,900, nestled sapphires and natural-colored diamonds among an offbeat pebble design.
The store also features the work of five other designers: Leopoldo Poli, Paul Morelli, Pedro Boregaard, Steve Kretchmer and Stephen Webster. While it’s unusual for a designer to welcome others into his shop, Sepkus said that for him, it’s only natural. “These are my friends, and I admire their work,” he said.
The one thing Sepkus will not do is custom work. “I might make one ring in two years, but only if something interests me.”
Sepkus plans to visit Chicago once every couple of months and will leave day-to-day operations in the hands of his partner, Jeff Feero, and the store manager, Michael Gilbert. “I rarely go anywhere,” the designer said.” Anytime I make an appearance, that’s a bracelet not done.” Alex Sepkus, 106 East Oak Street, 312-440-0044.