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Meet Katrina Kelly of Women’s Jewelry Association

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katrina Kelly.

Katrina Kelly, a Fine Jewelry Designer founded the Houston Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association after moving back to Houston, TX a couple of years ago. While living in New York and Los Angeles, Katrina was a member of these chapters. The mission of WJA is to provide business networking experiences dedicated to enriching and advancing the professional lives of the women in the jewelry and watch industries. Kelly, “I wanted to create and be part of a network like this in my hometown.” The quickly growing Houston Chapter has over 45 members now. Members range from boutique owners, jewelry designers, photographers, CAD designers, public relations, gemstone dealers, diamond dealers, jewelry manufacturers, finding suppliers, appraisers, graphic designers, and more.

The Women’s Jewelry Association was an idea born of the belief that women networking with each other could change the world. The founders of the Women’s Jewelry Association also believed women could act as mentors, provide scholarships and seed money for new entrants into the industry, and recognize women’s talents and accomplishments.

The idea for a women’s organization in the jewelry industry was born during the early 1980s when Boston jewelry sales representative Toni Lyn Judd suffered unfair treatment at the hands of her company. She had been hired with a part-ownership agreement that would reward her when the company became profitable. Four years later, just as the company started turning a profit, she was fired.

Judd wished she had a mentor or a professional network to call upon for help, but there was little to no networking system for females in the jewelry industry at that time. The most prominent networking organization in the industry, the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York, was still an all-male group (it would not admit women until 1987).

To correct the situation, Judd and Cindy Geller, another New England-based sales representative and designer, gathered a group of local women together and the New England Women’s Jewelry Association was born. Later that year at the JA New York Show, Judd and Geller shared their idea with jewelry buyer Ronny Lavin, and subsequently with a larger group of New York-based industry women. All agreed that a national group was needed.

In early 1983, Lavin hosted a meeting of prominent New York industry women to form the National Women’s Jewelry Association. The women who gathered that day would become influential early members. They were – in addition to Lavin – Joan Benjamin, Linda Goldstein, Peggy Kirby, Beth Moskowitz, Jo Ann Paganetti, Gloria Rosensweig, Marian Ruby, Tina Segal, and Nancy Pier Sindt. They elected Gerry Gewirtz as their first president, in absentia.

Has it been a smooth road?
Katrina did not know many local people in the industry when she moved back. So just getting the momentum going at first was quite challenging. While this organization is infamous and huge in New York, Los Angeles, and many other large cities–not many people had heard of the organization in Houston. Thankfully, after getting a board together, the combined synergy helped get the word out.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We hope to obtain over 200 members. WJA Houston will continue to elevate women in the jewelry-related industries through support, education & networking events.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tatiana Teles, Jessie Dugan, Amber Gustafson, Jenny Moore, Katrina Kelly

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