Small Town Gems


     Maple Park is a quaint, small town in the Kaneland school district that does not have much to offer other than Casey’s General Store, Lodi Tap House and a few other bars and grills. But recently Jen Ward, a Maple Park resident herself, opened a jewelry store on the heart of Main Street.

    Ward’s store, The Crystal Collective, has been open since early December. The Crystal Collective was a hit right off the bat.

    “The grand opening was amazing. I was totally blown away,” Ward said.

    She makes and sells a variety of jewelry: necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to name a few. A unique aspect to the store is the offer to customize pieces with certain jewels or stamping your initials on the bracelet or ring of your choosing. Each piece of jewelry is handmade as well.

    “I like sitting down and looking at all my components and putting together jewelry,” Ward said.

    Although the shop just opened its doors as The Crystal Collective in December, it was a lot of work to make that happen. Prior to the jewelry store, the space was a laundromat, but had sat empty for almost 17 years. Ward saw the potential in the empty space for a long time and always wanted to do something with it.

   ”As I’ve lived in Maple Park, I always went past this space. I’d walk the stroller past here, ride bikes past here, and actually about 10 years ago I wrote it down on paper that I wanted to have parties here, and have workshops,” Ward said.

    Her idea to hold workshops and parties in the empty space started to become a reality six years ago after her husband lost his job and she started making jewelry to bring in extra money. Soon enough it became more.

    “I started doing small markets, and people loved it. I thought, ‘Holy crap, this is a great idea,’”  Ward said.

    This goes to show that a small idea can turn into a big accomplishment if you put your mind to it and are truly passionate about what you are doing.

    “I am so proud of the progress Jen has made. It’s been fun watching her shop come together for months and finally see the finished result of it,” Ward’s friend, Kendall Callaghan said.

   Being just a few doors down from Lodi Tap House, traffic comes in from all over, which is beneficial to the attention The Crystal Collective will gain.

   “I saw working [at Lodi] that a lot of people would come to Maple Park from all over, like Chicago and Naperville. If people would come to Maple Park for just Lodi, why not put something else here? I mean the community is great,” Ward said

    Sharing the store with a great community and having an ideal location has had a positive effect on her business and the effort Ward goes in to making her jewelry. She has support from a lot of her family, friends and co-workers.

    “It’s great to have such a unique small town business with someone who truly cares about the quality of the product they sell and the customers that come in,” Callaghan said.

    The doors at The Crystal Collective are open for anyone to stop by and look, or you can get a sneak peak at

    “I would invite anyone to come check out my store,” Ward said.