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America's Coolest Stores

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores Contest

The panel includes experts in store design, merchandising and retail, as well as jewelry designers and retailers.




Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores Contest

Big Cool Judges

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestKathleen Cutler is a speaker, author and the CEO of Kathleen Cutler Strategy, who specializes in creating online jewelry storefronts using her Bespoke Commerce system. With a degree from the GIA and experience as a bench jeweler and salesperson in high-end boutiques, Cutler has coached more than 100 jewelers and spends her time consulting behind the scenes of high-end jewelry stores.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestKen Nisch, as chairman of JGA, is focused on developing branded environments and consumer strategies, working with clients including Sundance, Blue Nile, Hershey’s Chocolate World, Sleep Number, Disney, H&M and Sandals Resorts. Nisch was inducted into the Retail Design Institute Legion of Honor, has been named as a “Retail Luminary” by Design:Retail Magazine and won the Retail Leadership Award at the Asia Retail Congress in Mumbai.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestErik Runyan is the fourth-generation owner of Erik Runyan Jewelers, which won the Big Cool division of the America’s Coolest Stores 2019. Erik and his wife, Leslie, “softly rebranded” the century-old, Vancouver, WA, business, and opened a new location in 2017. Runyan’s love of boats led him to obtain his 100-ton Master Captains license and also influenced his store, which has a subtle and elegant nautical theme.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestPratima Sethi founded Sethi Couture in 2009 to create fine jewelry that celebrates women. Today the line is carried by over 100 retailers, as well as its own Sethi flagship store. Sethi began her career in IT consulting and later moved to retail operations and merchandising at Louis Vuitton. She earned an MBA from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestJen Cullen Williams, communications and public-relations strategist, has worked with many leading jewelry companies over the past 15 years. Prior to launching her consultancy in 2019, she began her career at Red Light PR and later became the managing director of the agency Luxury Brand Group from 2007-2019, where she continues to consult. She serves on the national WJA board and is a past president of the WJA Los Angeles chapter.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestRod Worley is a 35-year retail jewelry veteran and founder of the Four Grainer jewelry industry management consulting firm. He is also the author of A REASON TO CHANT – JEWELRY TRADE EDITION and a veteran podcast host. His show, “Inside the Jewelry Trade,” has been heard in 167 countries. His consulting firm provides a turnkey operation that allows jewelry store owners to retain their store, their salary, and enjoy retirement tomorrow.

Small Cool Judges

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestJacqueline Cassaway, president of the Women’s Jewelry Association, has served on the WJA’s International Board of Directors since 2018. She has 30 years of global retail experience and has held senior operating, merchandising and new business development positions at companies including HSN, Helzberg Diamonds, a Berkshire Hathaway company, and Starboard Cruise Services, a LVMH company. She specializes in driving innovative customer experiences.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestKatherine Cotterill is manager of EAT Gallery in Maysville, KY, which won the Small Cool division of America’s Coolest Stores 2019. Prior to joining EAT Gallery, Cotterill worked as an oenologist in the wine industry and then managed a resort in Samoa. An interest in returning to Maysville combined with a love for colored gemstones and pearls made EAT Gallery a perfect fit for a new career.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestMegan Crabtree, CEO of Crabtree Consulting, traces her passion for jewelry back to her pre-teen years when she spent time at her father’s jewelry store in Indiana. A professional career in the jewelry industry culminated with high level positions at leading firms in the retail and manufacturing sectors. With Crabtree Consulting, she enjoys getting people excited about what excites her and wakes her up every morning, which is anything and everything in jewelry. [email protected]

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestLarry Johnson’s book, The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, is considered to be the definitive reference source on the subject of jewelry merchandising and is used as a textbook in visual merchandising classes. Johnson heads his own display consulting firm specializing in helping independent jewelers improve their sales by implementing better visual merchandising techniques.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestPam Levine is president of Levine Luxury Branding, a boutique agency that works with brands to deliver memorable customer experiences. From strategy through design, visual merchandising, and marketing, she works with clients to create strong sensory and emotional connections with customers that nurture lasting and profitable relationships.

Meet the Judges of The 2020 America’s Coolest Stores ContestAlp Sagnak is a jewelry designer, goldsmith and diamond setter, who has been recognized by the INDESIGN Jewelry Awards and Couture Jewelry Design Awards as well as the DTC Tria Campaign Design Awards and the DTC Millennium Campaign National Awards in Turkey. He studied industrial engineering at GAZI University in Turkey and was a partner in the Jewel House of Minyon in Turkey, before owning Atelier Minyon, a Manhattan boutique, from 2008-2015.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson

The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.”

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