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Growing up Stuller

What I learned having Matt for a dad

You’ve probably heard the story before. You know, the one about Matt Stuller driving the backroads of the South, selling findings out of his Nissan 240Z. Depending on how long you’ve been in the industry, you might have actually witnessed it.

The first memory I have of Matt Stuller involved a wooden cow.

I suppose I should explain.

I was three years old when my mom began dating my dad, who, at the time, was Mr. Matt to me. Mr. Matt thought it only fair that since he and my Mom got to go on special dates that I should too! I couldn’t tell you the name of the restaurant, what I was wearing, or what I ate, but I can remember that right when we walked through the door there was a butler serving tray – in the shape of a cow – holding candy. The coolest thing about the cow? It was exactly my height!

Listen, everything is exciting when you’re three.

AG and MattAs Mr. Matt transitioned into “Matty” and then into “Dad” my memories are clearer and admittedly more exciting. But for some reason, I’ll just never forget that cow and how special I felt that I got to go on my own date, just like Mom.

Now I realize how much of a testament that story is to the man that he is. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Much to people’s surprise, I didn’t grow up in the halls of Stuller. I always had an understanding of what my Dad did, but home and work life were always kept separate. My brother, sister, and I were all allowed to pursue whatever passion we desired, fully supported and encouraged, despite the stress we probably caused for our parents: I became a scuba instructor, my brother lives to hunt and fish, and my sister is an accomplished equestrian.

No, I did not grow up wanting to work at Stuller. If you would have asked 20-year old Alex what she wanted to be when she “grew up,” she would have rattled off a big list of things from Disney Princess to marine biologist, but Stuller wouldn’t have been anywhere near the top.

However, the stars ultimately aligned, and during my senior year of college I was required to complete an internship for a management course. I thought to myself, “Well, I suppose I know a place I could get one of those …” But it wasn’t quite that easy.

My Dad required that I go through the same interview process that anyone else who applies at Stuller goes through. Not knowing much about anything, I interviewed with many different departments, finally accepting an internship with our Events Team. I made name cards, I put out tablecloths, and stuffed programming materials into binders.

I guess my Stuller starting story isn’t quite as exciting as my Dad’s. Yet I think even he’d tell you that it doesn’t really matter where you start, it’s about how you move forward.
The conversations that I had with our customers as I worked our events sparked a passion for this industry that I never knew I could feel. I see it every day in my Dad – it’s impossible not to – but working here, it’s incredible to see it all around you every single day, and especially to hear it from our customers. It’s exciting. It’s fuel. It’s what has gotten Stuller here – 45 years strong.

At 25 years old, my current age, 45 years of anything is a daunting number. I know that I have so much more to learn. But what have I learned, so far, growing up Stuller?
My Dad has taught me many lessons, some that I didn’t even realize I was learning at the time. But here are my top five (because 45 would be a super long list, and I’m sure you have things to do).

1. Stand up for what you believe in
Growing up, nothing frustrated me more than my Dad arguing with me. He would argue with me about almost everything. Whether the topic was high or low on the scale of importance didn’t matter. Sometimes, being a teenage girl, I’d get so frustrated that I’d cry. Why wouldn’t he just let it go? Why couldn’t I have my own opinion? Looking back, I now understand that he wasn’t arguing with me – he was challenging me. That’s an important difference. “Defend your belief.” he’s told me many times, “If you won’t defend it until the end, do you really believe in it?” I actually look forward to a good debate with him these days (don’t tell him that).

2. Embrace those with different points of view
While it’s true he loves a good debate, he isn’t just an arguer. He’s a listener. More importantly, he’s an engaged, focused listener. If you’ve ever had a conversation with him, you can back me up. He’s the best listener I’ve ever met. He’s respectful of all view points and sees differing opinions as assets, not set-backs. Although, he’s not afraid to tell you – politely – when he thinks you are wrong (see #1).

3. Give back
It doesn’t matter if you have $10 or $1,000,000, ten minutes, or ten days – always give back to your community. God first, others second, me third. My Dad practices this every single day. He explains this better than I could, so I’m going to quote the man himself: “Improving our community isn’t just about dollars; it’s about ideas… it’s about relationships… it’s about putting aside our respective egos and agendas for the greater good. It’s about caring for others, and helping each of us reach our maximum potential.” Good stuff, right?

4. Work hard, play hard
Coming in as a “Matt’s daughter,” I’m sure there are those that believed I would be given special treatment. Well, I’m here to say that I simply wasn’t raised that way. There has been no special treatment (okay, okay, I get to use his Keurig). Aside from that, my job is my job. I have to perform at or above the level that is expected from everyone else. I neither expect nor want anything different. All of my co-workers take pride in what they do, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have more of an emotional connection to Stuller than just that. Not only do I have pride in what I do, I want my Dad to be proud of what I do. That takes work, and the path never ends.

It’s not all about work though. It’s about stepping back and giving yourself a pat on the back, hitting the refresh button, and heading to the ocean (or wherever your escape may be). It’s not about working to live, or living to work – it’s about combing those two for a happy, healthy balance. And I’ve seen him put as much passion into these moments of rejuvenation as he has into his business.

5. Do it with passion, or not at all
This is a life lesson, not just a work lesson. If you don’t care about whatever it is that you’re putting your energy into then why are you doing it at all? Live your life on fire for the things that restore you and give you happiness. My dad loves what he does. Again, if you’ve ever talked to him, it’s obvious. Since coming to work at Stuller, I’ve realized that jewelry is not just a combination of metal and stone and handiwork. Jewelry represents the most important moments in people’s lives. I get to be a part of that. Kind of a big deal.

So, those are a few of the things I’ve picked up in my relatively short time here on earth, growing up Stuller.

To close, I like to say one last thing.

Congratulations to you, Dad, on 45 years.

You have a soul that has existed for a thousand years and a heart that gives without restraint. Your brilliance is greater than any diamond. You have the eyes of a man who sees endless possibilities with a mind that never stops reaching for new frontiers. Your ability to inspire is immense. Your capacity to motivate everyone you come in contact with is undeniable. Thank you for all that you do.
Here’s to many more years!


Alex Stuller

Senior Director of Bridal

I've been with Stuller since 2012 • Still waiting for my acceptance letter from Hogwarts • If it involves wine, chocolate, or Leonardo DiCaprio, my answer is yes • Use the princess emoticon more than is socially acceptable • Horror movie junkie • When in doubt, hand me a coffee.