2020. It was a year with many challenges for all of us, to be sure. To name a few: COVID-19, quarantines, multiple hurricanes, ruined or postponed celebrations, a chaotic election, and the cherry on top? A cyber-attack. Looking back at it all, it is surreal. How could so much happen in one year? When you focus on the list of challenges we have faced, it’s almost overwhelming.
50 Years of Stuller
Something else happened this year, though. Stuller celebrated 50 years of incorporation. We had planned many little ways to celebrate with our teams, with our customers, and with our local community. Most of them were cancelled. You would think that this would really take the wind out of our sails because 50 years only comes around once. However, I actually think the alignment was “kismet.” Stay with me here.
This year I have truly learned what it means to be #StullerStrong. But it wasn’t COVID-19 that taught me, or the cyber-attack, or the multitude of other challenges that we faced. It was my teammates, our customers, and my family that truly taught me what it means to be #StullerStong.
To Our Employees: Thank You
The earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Stuller was forced to close are a blur, bleed into each other and my memory. I distinctly remember the moment I had to call my team in and let them know we were closing. Seldom seen tears threatened to fall. I felt helpless as their leader. I couldn’t answer any of their questions. I couldn’t tell them it was going to be okay because, at the time, I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that our leaders were working tirelessly and that we had never given up before– so why would we start now? My team, in that moment and ever since, showed up and went beyond any expectation I ever could have had. They reminded me in those moments, why we do what we do. It’s all about serving our customers.
Months into the pandemic, the company had adapted. Safety measures were in place from masks to hand sanitizer and social distance. We had learned how to thrive in our new normal. Then, during the busiest shopping weekend of the year, another event would bring Stuller to a stand-still: a cyber-attack.
That week, I broke down in tears sitting in my car. 2020 had finally broken me. After all we had overcome in 2020, this would be a challenge during a time when our customers need and rely on us the most. Admittedly, I had a true moment of hopelessness. But when I walked into the building the next morning, there was no doom and gloom, no “poor me.” In fact, people were moving faster than ever: hand-writing addresses on shipping labels, posting notes of encouragement to each other, taking orders from cell-phones, searching the building for extra head-sets for the call-center, delivering sugary treats for needed energy, passionately challenging the impossible and strategizing the insurmountable, smiling hello and drinking their 4th coffee of the morning after working past midnight in IT. Instantly, I knew I had been silly for doubting us for even a second. Because we do not give up at Stuller. We know what is important and we fight for it. At the end of the day, there are no job titles or departments at Stuller. There’s just, “How can I help you get that done? How can I get this engagement ring out for its promise date?” As the song goes, “the house don’t fall when the bones are good.” I have learned more about leadership, commitment, and strength in the past year than I have in the past 10.
To Our Customers: Thank You
While facing many of the same challenges we did here at Stuller, you continued to partner with us. Despite facing your own difficulties, you granted us patience and understanding as we tried to overcome our challenges. You reminded us why we do what we do with your personal stories of perseverance. You made us laugh with jokes about dum-dums and broken candy-canes (we’re working on it!). You granted us grace in our toughest moments. Most importantly, you continued to put your trust in us, whether it has been for one year or fifty. For this, I will forever be grateful. I am incredibly hopeful and excited about our one-of-a-kind industry’s future. As jewelers, we turn precious metals, diamonds, and gemstones into beautiful pieces that will go on to symbolize love, commitment, and family. It’s a tale as old and dependable as time. People have been celebrating special moments in their lives with jewelry for centuries and will continue to do so in the future through your artistry, professionalism, and partnership.
To My Dad: Thank You
I’ve seen you lead this company with passion and strength for years. Over the years, you have taught me so much about what it means to be a good person. You have instilled values in me that allow me to be proud of the woman I am at 30 years old. But today, I can also see you through a very different lens. Not just as the leader of our Stuller family, but of THE Stuller family – a family that can’t really be quantified – our employees and their families, our Lafayette community, our customers and their businesses, our industry peers. Tough decisions with no easy answer have had to be made. Watching you do it with calmness, compassion, hope, determination, and as always, a passion and deeply rooted love to the company, our employees, our industry, and our local community is something incredibly special. Proud. I’m so proud. And even though you hate being in the spotlight, here’s one more congratulations on Stuller’s 50th year. Stuller grew up from tackle boxes full of findings and sales calls in a Winnebago and today, we’re still rooted in the same heart, vision, and tenacity. That’s because of you. Special shout out to my Mom, who has spent many hours this holiday season working the sorter belt late into the night with us.
I don’t know what 2021 has in store and it really doesn’t matter. Whatever it is – I’m prepared. Why? Because I’m #StullerStrong. And it’s because of you.