We would like to extend a huge congratulations to Melissa Kelley for being featured in the Women in Business Magazine. With her hard work and dedication, Melissa has helped make J. F. Kruse the success that it is today. People walk into the doors of J. F. Kruse not only to find a perfect piece of jewelry for themselves or a loved one, but to also hone in on the personalized experience the team at J. F. Kruse provides.
Below is the article that Cassidy Swanson from the St. Cloud Times wrote about Melissa for the Women in Business Magazine:
For Melissa Kelley, life is about enriching the lives of others through world-class service, high-quality jewelry that reflects the customer’s story, teamwork, and giving to those in need. Learning the value of hard work and leadership at an early age, when her father opened J.F. Kruse Jewelers in 2000, Kelley performed basic office chores like cleaning the bathrooms and organizing the offices. Since then, she has earned her graduate gemologist degree and gained sole ownership of J.F. Kruse Jewelers. Still, Kelley hasn’t forgotten where she started: “I still do some of the smaller jobs. The trash has got to go out,” she laughs.
Upon graduation from high school, Kelley attended Rasmussen College for business management. Soon after, she began working toward a gemologist graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America located in California, opting to complete a distance education program. Sometimes she would have to fly to class for a week at a time, and other days she would spend indoors in the dark with her microscope studying 1 of 500 stones she needed to correctly identify in order to receive the degree. Kelley is grateful to have fallen into the jewelry business early on in her life; working with people and learning their stories was a main draw for her. “The jewelry business basically combines people, art, and science, which I love,” she says.
Despite her accomplishments, Kelley is always pushing herself to be the best she can be. She diligently follows the advice her father gave her when she was younger: “Success in business requires two things: you always have to remember that no one gets there by themselves. You always have to remember how valuable people are. You have to be different. You can’t just be complacent and sit back and say, ‘Well, I’m good enough.’ You always have to be working towards making progress and bettering yourself.” She encourages the same for her amazing staff, not just a team, but a family. Each quarter they perform special tasks, whether that entails honing a skill or implementing a new project. She often takes chances on potential employees who share similar values, thus fostering growth in people who may not have perfect technical skills to start with.
The challenge of the business world, in addition to pushing herself and her team to present their best selves, charges Kelley and brings her life meaning. Kelley thrives on investing in people—both employees and customers. “Why I get out of bed, why I do things, is to enrich the lives of other people.” A part of that also includes being involved in the community. Proceeds from specially designed jewelry go to young women in crisis pregnancy situations and the St. Cloud Children’s Home. Kelley and her staff try to give back in whatever way they can, whether it’s with their time or donations to families enduring tough situations.
As a woman in a so-called man’s world, Kelley, like most of us, sometimes struggles with confidence, though her bright smile and approachable demeanor would suggest otherwise. “One way or another we have to always work on our confidence, whether that’s learning a new skill, whether that’s getting support from loved ones. Stop that negative self-talk and realize we all have greatness within us. It doesn’t do anybody any favors to hold back. We can do it. We just have to have the confidence to move forward and keep trying,” she says. Rather than being ignored, she tries to find a way to be heard: “If you’re not getting invited into the conversation then you need to figure out how you can be.”
With such a positive outlook on life, Kelley’s future with J.F. Kruse Jewelers shines as bright as the diamonds in the display cases. “It’s not about money. I would do this job if I didn’t get paid,” she says.
With Melissa’s expertise and passion for the business, we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us at J. F. Kruse Jewelers!