The 317 Project tells stories of life in all of Indianapolis’ bustling neighborhoods – 317 words at a time.
Before selling fine diamonds under the glare of a chandelier, Joann Carter endured the vagaries of life.
She grew up in the “projects” of Cincinnati, Ohio. Survived a teenage pregnancy. Counted on welfare. Lived in social housing.
“I came from nothing,” Carter, 63, said.
After graduating from college in 1989, she moved to Indianapolis, got married, and had two more children within two years.
In 1994, Carter determined that “it was time to make some money.” Her husband was working, but that was not enough.
She bounced between beauty salons and hair salons selling products until one day she met the woman who changed her life forever: an antique and jewelry store owner with no more mink coats. that she couldn’t sell.
While hitting the road, Carter eventually sold out all the coats in the store.
“She looked at me,” Carter said, “and said, ‘Well, I guess it’s time to start selling jewelry. “”
Carter loaded $10,000 worth of diamonds and gold into the trunk of her car and continued the hustle – selling each of them too – earning the nickname Jewelry Lady, who hangs above his store today.
In 2007, she opened her own boutique, where her youngest daughter, Ashley Perryman, apprenticed in high school.
Playing with “every tray of jewelry” in her mother’s safe, since childhood, Perryman knew she would work in jewelry.
Perryman joined her mother full-time in 2013 after college — but not without unfiltered mother-daughter friction.
Perryman’s new ideas clashed with Carter’s old-school outlook.
“We argued and fought,” she said, until Perryman quit and left, taking “any job I could get.”
Perryman wasn’t too proud to ask to come back months later, provided a few concessions, like moving from paper and pen accounting to an electronic system, and, improving the aesthetics in their current location at 4507 East 82nd Street.
Love and loyalty prevailed.
“I thank God everyday,” Carter said, “to have her with me by my side.”
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