• Lorena Guillen Castillo

Pre-Med Student by Day, Crystal Shop Owner at Night

Learn about this Latina’s journey connecting creativity, academics, and reproductive health

Ximena Guillen is a recipient of the Golden Door Scholarship and current junior at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. Although this future OBGYN is absolutely dedicated to her studies, she found a new hobby to explore during the start of quarantine in 2020. Her love and knowledge for crystals and jewelry-making had grown to amass a huge personal collection and that is when she decided to share her passion with other crystal-lovers. She opened her store on Instagram (@mythicalgemshop) in June of 2020, and thanks to it, she has found many loyal customers and friends along the way.

When did you discover your appreciation for crystals and jewelry?

In terms of crystals, I think I’ve always liked them because they made me feel stable and comfortable in any new environment I’d be going into. They were just something I could hold on to if I was feeling nervous or something. Lately, I have really gotten into learning about the metaphysical properties of crystals and making jewelry. It all started coming together last March when I was looking for something to help me feel more grounded with everything that was going on in the world at the time.

What do you credit for the quick and sudden success of your hobby-turned-small business?

I would say definitely interacting with people. Anyone can start a business, but building a loyal following depends on whether you can keep conversations going or not. You really want to get to know why people are interested in crystals and that helps you connect with them instead of having a plain transaction. Then you have a better chance of people coming back because you built a sense of trust with your customers.

How are you able to balance your rigorous Pre-Med coursework and the responsibilities related to running a business?

It was pretty tough in the beginning because I was not aware it would be so hard to balance everything, but really it’s all about setting time for each responsibility within the business, such as setting aside three hours for homework, two hours for packaging, two hours for inventory, etc. Just setting aside a schedule for yourself and keeping in mind that it can change day to day.

What would you say to other people who have been thinking of taking their hobby or talent to the next level?

I would say… really decide what platform you want to be on. I know a lot of people try to start on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy all at once, but I really think you should focus on one platform first and see if you build your following there. Really set yourself up to be stable on a certain platform and then keep going from there. Also, do not invest in a whole lot of supplies that you do not know will be successful until you can really gauge what people are interested in.

Why did you choose the field of obstetrics and gynecology and what is the impact you want to have in that field?

I have always been interested in female reproductive health simply because of the taboos that are typically tied in with that. I volunteered at a clinic two summers ago and it was really interesting to see how unwilling some patients were to talk about any reproductive problem they had even with a doctor just because of certain things they heard about in their culture along with the language barrier. A lot of these patients were native Spanish-speaking people that had recently immigrated to the United States so if I can offer my Spanish speaking skills to help them feel more comfortable that means a lot to me. Overall, I just want to make reproductive health more accessible for BIPOC.

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