Katherine J. Kornblau is the founder and president of KJK Jewelry, Inc. and KJKStyle.com. Her fashionable, quality jewelry–inspired by world cultures, nature, fine art and architecture–can be found at The National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids. She was even honored by The Museum Store Association as Vendor of the Year! Learn about Katherine J. Kornblau…
Hometown: New York City
First job: I started making and selling jewelry to stores when I was 16 years old. That did not feel like a job because, although I was paid for my work, I never received a paycheck. My first “real” job, with a paycheck, was from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was a sales associate in their museum store.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in IA: Enjoying the natural beauty and seeing the sights! Visiting The National Czech and Slovak Museum is No. 1 on my list of delightful days in Iowa. The museum has a diverse permanent collection and frequently has special exhibits. Their museum store carries a carefully curated collection that mirrors the mission of the museum. I left with my arms full of gifts! When you finish at the museum, make sure to visit the Czech Village and eat Kolache (a traditional Czech cookie) and admire the new Mucha-inspired mural that is being painted. I also adore The Capitol building; the fine art and architecture are breathtaking. It was built to rival all other capitol buildings to show Iowa had arrived – and it certainly succeeds in my eyes. Take the tour to learn about the symbolism in the architecture, and don’t miss the library there.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Managing to successfully create, maintain and develop my company while taking care of and enjoying my family.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Seeing obstacles as obstacles. Thankfully, I have learned to see them as challenges and learning experiences. It makes the difficult moments much easier to face.
Someone who inspires you and why: My Mom, Helen, has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation throughout my life. In addition to having four children and running a household, Mom has always found the time to work at jobs that value her input, volunteer with charities that appreciate her expertise and address the needs of her friends and family. On top of her amazing juggling act, she is versed in topics from every section of The New York Times, which she reads daily. I admire her intelligence and her ability to retain so much information!
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: If jewelry is what you love, and you cannot imagine doing anything else, you must stick with it. Constantly improve your skills. Find ways to learn new skills. Go out and sell your work. When someone says no, it doesn’t mean your designs are bad; it is just not the right customer for your design. Don’t give up. Make sure you value the time and energy you put into your craft. Do not undervalue yourself or your work. Even though there may seem to be a zillion artists out there, people are always looking for new talent!
Favorite quote: Hmm. The following quote is framed in my hallway, and I see it each day before I leave the house: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I studied Egyptian Archaeology at the Ecole de Louvre in Paris.
What makes someone fabulous: Their kindness. For me, there is nothing more fabulous than meeting people who are truly kind. They are beautiful.