Kern Hirst Elected CJA President

Lexi Kern Hirst, of Churchill’s Jewelers, Santa Barbara, has been elected President of the California Jewelers Association for 2008, succeeding Richard Velayo, of Gleim The Jeweler, Palo Alto as the head of the 1,200-member organization which serves retail jewelers, suppliers, and designers throughout the state.

Other officers elected include Teresa Saldivar, of Teresa’s Jewelers, Santa Ana, president-elect; Stuart Benjamin, of Stuart Benjamin & Co. Jewelry Designs, San Diego, first vice president; James Orloff, of Orloff Jewelers, Fresno, second vice president; and Allen Kessler, of Kessler Jewelers, Burbank, Treasurer.

Kern Hirst is a second-generation jeweler, following her father, Richard Kern, in leading Churchill’s Jewelers, one of Santa Barbara’s leading jewelry firms. She joined the family business in 1973 and assumed the presidency 12 years ago, taking over day-to-day operations.

She oversaw a major remodeling of the store four years ago which she described as being “more than a major project.” The only remaining parts of the old store were two brick walls, and “it was more of a rebuild than a remodel,” she said.

“We’ve been growing incredibly since the remodel,” she said. She was honored by the mayor of Santa Barbara for her “success in making Churchill’s Jewelers such a great contribution to the community.”

Kern Hirst becomes the fifth person to be a second-generation CJA president and only the third woman in the CJA’s 75-year history to serve in that capacity. Her father, Richard Kern, was president in 1960 and 1961. She is one of triplets, but is the only one of the sisters to follow in the jewelry industry. She was married in 2005 to Ron Hirst.