By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
Longtime brand builder and sales trainer Kate Peterson died yesterday from injuries sustained in a fire at her home on Sunday, April 9. She was 64.
Kate’s career started in 1976 at JB Robinson Jewelers, a now-defunct jewelry chain store where she served as a manager for 14 years. From there, Kate moved on to Kay Jewelers, working as Vice President of training for nearly five and a half years, followed by a three-year stint at Littman Jewelers, also as Vice President of training.
In 1997, Kate founded Performance Concepts, Inc., using her 20 years of retail operations expertise to help businesses grow and train their own staffs. Kate was a fixture at major jewelry shows, teaching others how to expand their businesses.
On LinkedIn, clients and friends left her glowing reviews. Patti Geolat of Patti Geolat Companies calls her “professional, creative, and most of all, good natured with the changes that we threw at her. A true friend to our business.”
IT recruiter Gary Kaufman “had the good fortune of being trained by Kate back in 1995,” he writes. “I was able to take so much from her sessions and immediately apply it to my work and personal life. Her leadership style keeps people engaged.”
Kate also had a gift for writing. She created and authored the award-winning “Real Deal” column for INSTORE magazine, starting in 2001. She also served as a Consultant to the publication on sales, management, brand development, and retail operations issues.
Friends and colleagues remember her fondly. Fellow sales trainer Pat Henneberry calls Kate “a force, a leader, and a visionary in the jewelry industry. She was constantly moving all of us forward. This is a huge loss. I am sorry for her family, her sister Beth, and all who will miss her.”
Trace Shelton, editor in chief of INSTORE, shared these recollections with AGTA earlier today.
“Kate has been contributing to INSTORE from the very beginning. She was already a mainstay in the magazine when I began writing for INSTORE in late 2003, and she’s been a continuous presence for the 20 years since.
“When we launched the SMART Jewelry Show in Chicago, Kate made herself available to speak or moderate educational sessions every day. Whenever we asked if she could do something, she just said, ‘Whatever you need.’ She was excited to lead our team of presenters for the upcoming Brain Trust Workshop at the new INSTORE Show this August.
“We’ll absolutely miss her unmatched experience and expertise as well as her steadying presence. But even more so, we’ll miss her unfailing sense of humor, her lighthearted approach to life and business, and her personal friendship and support.”
One of her sons, Nick Peterson, also weighed in on Facebook.
“She was the smartest person I’ve ever known (trying to find her IQ test to prove it!!), and anyone who knew her knows she was not afraid to show it. She lived her life on her terms and wouldn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. In the face of adversity, she built herself into a globally known professional in her industry. Always stopping to see, and appreciate, the world on her travels. She loved her friends, her family, and her dogs fiercely, and she will be missed.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up by a neighbor to help her family deal with the loss of the home from the fire.
Plans for a service and memorial have not yet been released by the family. AGTA will share that information when it’s available.