Aphrodite Kotrotsios, publisher of the Hellenic News of America, recently sat down with young Greek American jewelry professional, Jason Stavrianidis. Jason has been named the fifth-generation jeweler to undertake the responsibility of his family’s legacy, Venus Jewelers, in Somerset, NJ. He was excited to share his experience and what led him to make this decision while undergoing his studies in finance.
AK: What is your involvement at Venus Jewelers?
JS: “I am a full-time employee, involved in almost all aspects of the business from serving clients with products and services, networking, digital marketing, jewelry bench work, polishing, quality control, etc.”
AK: Recently, it was announced that you are Venus Jewelers’ fifth generation, how does that make you feel? How is this symbolic for you?
JS: “First of all, it makes me feel proud of being able to continue my family’s legacy in this noble profession. It is very symbolic because it gives me a great deal of responsibility knowing that for our family it’s not just a job to be in this business. It’s a way of life and here I am the one who will be continuing this legacy. I really think it’s a big deal!”
AK: What was your biggest motivation to get involved at Venus Jewelers?
JS: “My two brothers and I would go to the store and help on the weekends ever since we were 10-years old. It was only a couple of years ago, that I felt the urge to make a commitment and be involved more seriously. I think my biggest motivation was my late grandfather George, my father Peter and my aunt Dora. All three of them contributed in one way or another in my decision to continue this family legacy and tradition. So here I am!”
AK: Who founded Venus Jewelers? Who else from your family was and is currently involved?
JS: “My family has been involved in the industry of jewelry and precious gems for the past 4 generations. My grandfather established Venus Jewelers at this location in Somerset, NJ, 40 years ago (1979) and later on, my dad Peter Stavrianidis, Ph.D., and my aunt Dorothy Fountoukidis continued as principals, taking the business through changes and major expansion. Today our business (Venus Jewelers) has a very well-trained team of 10 employees and is serving the Tri-state area of New Jersey and beyond.”
AK: What do you enjoy most about being part of Venus Jewelers?
JS: “I enjoy having the opportunity to be part of our client’s most special occasions, whether it’s their engagement, wedding, anniversary or birthday. For me, it’s just being able to participate and to truly be a part of these special moments in people’s lives is something that I hold true to my heart.”
AK: What is your educational background?
JS: “I graduated from Saint Joseph’s High School and I am currently studying Finance at Middlesex County College where I will be receiving my associate degree next December. Then, I will be transferring to Rutgers Business School to finish my last two years and graduate with a BS in Finance and Economics. I am also planning to pursue a graduate degree. Regarding my employment with Venus Jewelers, I have completed several courses and designations in Gemology and remain enrolled in more advanced courses in order to receive the highest knowledge and titles in this industry of fine jewelry and precious stones.”
AK: What kind of breakthroughs have you achieved?
JS: “As a millennial and the youngest of the crew in Venus Jewelers, I have been able to implement some marketing and selling techniques that are more apropos for my generation which are proven to be the major consuming power at this time.”
AK: How does your Greek heritage and your Hellenic values influence the work you do?
JS: “I was brought up in an environment with very strong family values and both my parents have taught me to respect people and to maintain a very high work ethic. I have served in every aspect of my local parish as an altar boy, president of the GOYA, church athletics, sights and sounds, oratorical, etc. All of the above have taught me quite a lot and built a strong foundation for my upbringing.”
AK: How does the Hellenic News of America foster Hellenism in America?
JS: “I know through my father the significant role that this Greek American newspaper has played for so many years in the Greek American community. I have also been able to read it occasionally since my father has been a subscriber for as long as I can remember. It is really impressive how a publication like this has managed to be a lighthouse of Hellenic power all these years under the leadership of Mr. Kotrotsios.”