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Siblings Collaborate to Take Missouri Jewelry Store to the Next Level

They say their sibling rivalry is a thing of the past … although they pretend to be at odds for TikTok.




Siblings Collaborate to Take Missouri Jewelry Store to the Next Level

Trisha Kennedy-Thompson and Aaron Kennedy say their sibling rivalry is a relic of the past, although they do sometimes pretend to be at odds, particularly in TikTok videos, where they like to have fun at their own expense (for example, donning a leprechaun costume or having a pie thrown in their face). Their personalities and selling and leadership styles are completely different, which they believe makes them work well together. Since the second-gen siblings took over management and eventual ownership of Kennedy’s Custom Jewelers in Blue Springs, MO, revenues soared from $2 million in 2016 to $4.6 million in 2022. As they celebrate the 40th anniversary of the business that their parents, Jim and Becky Kennedy, founded, they’re so in sync they finish each other’s sentences.

What’s unique about your store?

Trisha: Duratrans in our bridal area are all wedding and engagement photos of people who bought their jewelry from us. Customers love that we have a mural on the outside of our store that has a wedding ring and ribbons that wrap around it. My parents’ initials are at the end of the ribbons. They celebrate that love and the relationship that built this business.

How well do the two of you work together?

Aaron: We rarely fight. We used to not get along and now she does her thing and I do my thing and I don’t jump in on hers and she doesn’t jump in on mine. If I have an idea, I always talk to her about it. I’m out on the sales floor and do CAD custom design. I’m still the No. 1 sales person on the staff. I like to be out there in the middle of everything. Trisha does the marketing and donates to charities; she handles a lot of other things. It takes both of us, not one person, to do those things well.

What do you think is the secret to the exponential growth of your business?

Trisha: I saw how respected my father is in the community. Early on I worked really hard in making sure people knew who I was, not just that I was Jim Kennedy’s daughter. We have a big passion for giving back. We’ve won business of the year for the city, Rotarian of the Year, Citizen of the Year.

What’s next?

Trisha: I want to keep growing but at the same time I don’t want to get so big that you lose the feeling you get here. I want to keep the momentum and keep the same feeling alive. Family is very important to both of us. I want to make time to be a mother and not miss out on those things. Aaron has a 4 year old and I have a 1 year old, so we have our hands full.

You decided to embark on a major renovation in 2021. Why was it time?

Trisha: Our store was very dated looking. The showcases were 30 something years old, with a wood look from the ’80s and it was just time. I started having the conversation with my father before we discussed buying the business from him and I looked around at showcases. Artco flew out and looked at the store and we discussed layout and what was possible. And so we came down to a final layout that was going to involve knocking out some walls. We rented an office space next door to our freestanding building, closed for two months and emptied out the whole store. We have new flooring, we tore out some walls, built some new walls, new paint, ceiling, lights and cases.

What did you hope to achieve?

Trisha: I know there are stores you walk into that look very high end and elaborate, but I wanted this to still be comfortable and not intimidating and I like personal touches. It’s very nice but it’s not stuffy and that was really important to me.

What is the focus of your business?

Trisha: We do a lot of bridal and custom but we’re a little bit of everything. We have a large estate collection, which brings in a lot of people. We have everyday silver to higher end colored gemstone and diamond jewelry. A rather larger repair shop; we do 30-some odd repairs a day.

What did Aaron immediately bring to the business?

Trisha: He had the CAD CAM knowledge. My dad was one of the first people who bought into that software and he did well with that, but it became outdated and then for a while we worked with some vendors, who designed and casted it for us. When Aaron came we moved everything in house. That kept costs down. That’s probably one of the bigger turning points, when we started pushing all in house custom design. We’re constantly investing in the newest software and staying on top of it so we can continue to compete.

What is your dad doing in retirement?

Trisha: Our dad still will come in on the weekend sometimes. His office is still his space. It’s not like he walked away and never came back. He actually bought another family business and put my cousins to work. He’s the landlord of an antique and estate shop. He turns 70 this year. He’s doing his own thing, enjoying it and staying busy.

Have either of you done other types of work?

Aaron: I put in years of being a foreman on a tree crew. I did landscaping. Then I moved to South Florida and opened a jewelry store down there. I lived in Boca Raton for a couple of years, then our Mom became ill and I came back and got to be with her for her last six months. Then I decided i’m going to go back into jewelry. I got with another family owned jeweler and became a store manager before my sister and my dad reached back out and when the time was right we all came back together.

What drew you to jewelry and why was it appealing enough to stay in it?

Trisha: Growing up I never wanted to be in the jewelry business. I knew I wanted to be a mom and my parents were never home when I was younger. But their schedules opened up more and Shane Decker came to our store when I was in high school to evaluate the business for my parents. He talked to me and said, “I think you should reconsider because you have a personality that would do really well with this. You’re blessed that they built this up and if you reconsider you will also have that ability to take more time off.” But all I could remember is that Dad worked from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Starting out he was it. He would sell it and then make it at night. But I went for it and I’m so glad I did. I get to use all my talents, all my strengths here and I get to do a lot of different things. No day is ever the same and I love that. It is a lot of work and it’s worth it. I have a work life balance. I’m not working till 8 p.m. or anything like that. I do bring work home, but our mom died when she was 57 so I know life is short. You have to be in the moment. We’re cognizant of that.

When I brought my brother back into the fold I made it known i’m going to be starting a family and that is going to be my No. 1 priority so I offered him a bigger stake in the business, so i could be the mom I wanted to be. I do my best.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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