Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kris Kessler! Kris has been in the jewelry business for 12 years as of this Summer. One of his amazing accomplishments during that time has been being titled as a Graduate Gemologist by The Gemological Institute of America. The course work necessary for such an honor is rigorous and time consuming, but Kris persevered to complete his studies in 2022. In his personal time, Kris enjoys spending time with his family and serving the community. Most notably, Kris is the current 2023-24 chairman for United Way of Greater Lafayette. He's incredibly passionate about that organization and the wonderful ways it serves our community. As a staff, we’re thankful for his humble leadership.
Kris was kind enough to take a bit of his time to answer a few questions, please enjoy:
Q: What do you enjoy/What are you most passionate about in the wonderful world of jewelry? What excites you about getting up and coming to Stall & Kessler’s each day?
There is something quite special about being a part of special times in people's lives: engagements, weddings, anniversaries, etc. It truly is a blessing to meet couples who love each other and to be the jeweler chosen to provide jewelry that is symbolic of that love. That also stirs motivation to provide the highest quality jewelry to stand the test of time as best as we are able. I love working with our people. You don't get to choose your family, but you get to choose your co-workers. The people who I work with are wonderful people and regardless of what the day holds I feel privileged, blessed and excited that they choose to work with us.
Q: Do you have any particularly special memories from customer interactions from your time with Stall & Kessler’s? Tell us about it.
There are several, but one of my favorite events is meeting significant others. Oftentimes we work with an individual over several meetings and weeks/months to create a project, say an engagement ring for example, and we get to know them quite well. It is a tremendous joy to meet the other half of that person, to see their excitement about their new engagement and to see the excitement they have to bring their S/O in the store to meet us. Those times are incredible for lots of reasons, but it makes me feel like I am a part of that relationship. That similar idea is reinforced when people move out of town and stop by to visit whenever they are in the area. We recently had a gentleman visit us who lives out of the country. He was in Indianapolis for work and thought since he was "close", he would swing by and say hello. He hadn't been in our store for over 15 years. That brief visit left a significant impact on me and reinforced how important the relationships we build are.
Q: What do you believe is your greatest asset when it comes to being a small business owner? Do you have any advice for up-and-coming small business owners?
We live in a tremendous community which I care greatly about. The many, many privileges we enjoy as a community have been put in place by those who came before us. Each one of us plays a role in that community and leaves a foundation for the future. Thriving as a small business in a community means that your community has allowed you to function, provide jobs for people, provide a service/product for the individuals in that community. We ought to receive that thought with gratitude and a desire to improve what we do on a daily basis, pushing us to be the best that we can. Not only do we strive for improvement for ourselves and business, but we also seek to improve our community by contributing when and where we can to the best of our abilities.
Q: Can you tell us more about your time serving with United Way? (What does United Way do for the community? / Why are you so passionate about United Way?)
I started volunteering with United way about 11 years ago working on the Community Investment Committee, which helps build a relationship between United Way and our partner agencies. In 2015, Joe Howarth asked me to serve under him on the Commerce Division of the UW Cabinet. The Cabinet is the branch of volunteers that goes around to raise money, which I am still serving on today. Our community is growing in so many good ways: more jobs, more housing and more people. Along with all of the good things that a growing community brings, growth also means there will be challenges. Our social services sector needs to grow in scale in order to provide all of the needs to people on our community. United Way helps to fund agencies that provide basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. The agencies we fund also provide social services like day care, mental health care, mentoring programs, etc. United Way also has in-house initiatives like Read to Succeed, Kindergarten Countdown Camp, and VITA. These in-house programs help provide other pillars of support in our community that would not exist without them.
I am passionate about United Way because simply put: a healthy United Way means we have a healthy community. In a community that I care so much about and that has allowed so much for me, I want use all of my might to ensure that we have a healthy United Way.