Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer
From the street, passersby can see a body of water painted across the bottom trim of a house with water lilies floating in its waves. Two Tibetan snow lions are painted below the words “Juliet’s Jewels” between the front windows.
Blue, white, red, green and yellow flags are strewn across the lawn and the front porch of the house.
Prayer flags, as they are called, are hung to send out the prayers written on them when the wind blows.
Upon ascending the blue ramp and entering the threshold, a petite, soft-spoken woman with pixie-short hair offers customers free tea or water.
Banners hang on the walls and mobiles hang form the ceiling. Sublime chanting music floats through the air.
This is Dawa Juliet Sangmu’s house. However, she opened its doors as retail shop Juliet’s Jewels 12 years ago on Nov. 9.
“This is a different energy in here,” Sangmu, 46, said. “This is not a regular kind of shop.”
Juliet’s Jewels at 315 Sycamore St. is a local business that provides Denton with international treasures, handpicked by its traveling owner.
Three times a year, Sangmu journeys to different countries- such as Bhutan, India and Nepal – to find merchandise for her store.
“I handpick everything, so I know who I’m buying from. I know who the vendors are, who is making it,” she said. “I know where all my items are from. People are surprised that I remember.”
Hundreds of jewelry pieces, stones and crystals fill the shelves and glass cases. Upstairs, scarves, purses, trousers, tapestries and blouses are folded or hung for perusal.
Sangmu, who grew up in India, buys from small businesses on her travels. She doesn’t purchase anything that is factory-made, making each piece unparalleled.
Employee Shelley Howard has been working with Sangmu for approximately eight years. Howard describes her position here as healing and calming. She said the inventory here is more irreplaceable than at other shops.
“The main difference is there is no catalogue,” Howard said. “There’s no middle man whatsoever.”
Howard said the uniqueness of the shop not only lies within the accessories and clothes, but also within the energy that Howard contributes to Sangmu’s spirituality as well as the frequent visits the Buddhist Lama Dudjom Dorjee makes here.
“It’s a blessing for all of Denton,” Howard said. “I believe in energy reverberations. So if you do spiritual practice with an honest heart earnestly, then it affects your environment.”
A sign behind one of the glass cases reads “Shoplifters will be prosecuted by the laws of Karma.”
“We’ve had multiple people over the years come back and bring something back to us telling us, ‘I took this and ever since I took this something bad happened’ in their life,” Howard said.
Howard said this particular energy is similar to a protective force field.
Sangmu said the prices of her inventory are extremely reasonable and that the prices on the shop’s silver can’t be matched at the mall.
“I’m not out to be a millionaire,” she said. “That’s why I opened a shop in my home.”
Paloma Romo has visited the shop on multiple occasions and has made numerous purchases. She goes to the shop because of the quality of the handpicked items brought from the East.
“The store is awesome,” Romo said. “Also, [Sangmu] is very spiritual and has a great vibe.”
Sangmu turned the garage in the backyard into a center for meditation, which is open to the public.
“My mind needs protection, not my car,” she said. “Eight years and my car’s long gone. But my mind is still here.”
Vicki Burks originally came to Juliet’s Jewels to meditate three or four years ago. Now, she is also a regular customer at the shop.
“The product itself is so unique but so is the peace within the store,” Burks said. “It’s a sacred experience going in.”
Burks said Sangmu has a keen eye for what people would like to buy and wear.
The shop was started as a means to visit India, although she doesn’t consider it her home since she grew up in a boarding school.
“I just miss India,” she said. “I miss the culture.”
She also opened the shop to help sponsor two children that were attending Dr. Graham’s Homes, the 113-year-old boarding school Sangmu lived at and attended since the age of 1.
“We rely on sponsorships,” she said. “My parents didn’t pay a dime. Most of us came from broken homes.”
Now the children are 24 and 21 and have finished school. Sangmu said she visits them when she goes back to India.
Sangmu worked at downtown First State Bank, now Wells Fargo, for three and a half years before owning the shop.
However, working at the bank didn’t pay enough for her to return to India.
She eventually began to sell jewelry at a Mexican restaurant every weekend for three years.
“My first night, I made $800,” she said. “Imagine, at the bank I was making $1,100 the whole month.”
Juliet’s Jewels was blessed at its grand opening by Sangmu’s teacher Lama Dudjom Dorjee.
A lama is one who has higher realization than regular monks, Sangmu said.
“When you have a business blessed, it’s a very different energy,” she said. “It’s a totally different environment.”
Juliet’s Jewels is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.
Sangmu holds meditation groups from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Anyone is welcome to use the space to meditate during business hours as well, as long as he or she informs an employee prior to entering the center.
Sangmu doesn’t charge fees to use the space for meditation but does take donations.
As a senior student in Tibetan Buddhism, she also holds an eight-week introduction to Buddhism course at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays in the meditation center.