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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024
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@Work: Regal Crystals

July 2, 2007 — The Regal Crystals booth in Tutu Park Mall is the second successful business enterprise for 29-year-old Jahmed Mills, who has been able to combine his love of photography and computers by bringing a new and innovative form of technology to St. Thomas.
Mills says he got the idea for the business after strolling through a wax museum in England. "At the end of the building, there was a booth selling these crystals with people's pictures in them," he explains. "It looked interesting, so I did some research and thought it would be something I'd like to do. It's really different from anything we have on the island, and offers people — especially visitors to the territory– a great memento, a way for them to preserve their memories for a lifetime."
While the concept may sound a little strange, the process is really quite simple. While at the booth, Mills spends about two minutes taking someone’s picture with his digital camera, uploading it to his computer and programming in some dimensions. Five minutes later, that image is forever engraved into a piece of crystal put into a compact laser machine.
Not only is the picture perfectly preserved and detailed, but it is three dimensional, creating a fully lifelike and tangible portrait that can be turned into a necklace, key chain or paperweight.
But wait — there's more!
"People don't have to come to the booth to get their pictures done," Mills says. "They can send me their images — and it can be a picture of anything — through their email, cell phone or text message. Once I have that, I can get it into the computer and it can be transferred into the crystal."
Mills stresses that subject matter is not limited, since customers can submit portraits, pictures of events such as weddings and graduations or even landscapes. Crystals displayed at the Tutu Park booth also contain scenes graphically designed by Mills' himself, including a set of seahorses fanned by a background of branching coral and bubbles.
"It's something different, something unique that no one else offers down here,” Mills says. “And it also gives me a chance to do some creative work, design things that people find beautiful. Photography has always been one of my hobbies — I just love taking pictures — and this is a great way for me to do that as much as I can. And I really think that this can be one of the more profitable businesses on the island; it just has to get off the ground."
Since Regal Crystals has only been open for about six months, Mills is using his other business — a car service called Regal Limousines — to build a network of clients. It seems the word has spread, however, since Mills' handiwork has shown up all over the island, with crystals dangling from car keys, appearing as decorations in doctors' offices and sitting on shelves in many local businesses.
Still, Mills hopes the business will expand further, with Regal Crystals storefronts appearing in Puerto Rico, Tortola and possibly St. Martin.
"I'm a one-man show right now," Mills jokes, adding that much of his time is divided between the two businesses. "I mean, owning your own business is great, but it's a lot of sacrifice. But my goal is definitely to expand, because I think this product is really unique and personal. It brings some diversity to the market, and it's really versatile, since I can photograph and make just about anything, whether it's a key chain, or a trophy or business award.
“And while the whole process takes just a few minutes, it's nice to know that the end result will last a forever."
For more information about Regal Crystals or to place an order, call Mills at 514-1817.
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