Woodbury, NY—Shirley Kulchinsky, matriarch of Mayfair Jewelers, died April 4. She was 86.
Her father was a custom peddler who bought his jewelry from Seymour Kulchinsky's father, Sam, who owned a store on Canal Street in New York City. But after Seymour and Shirley Kulchinsky were married (shown at left during a family celebration), granddaughter Lauren Kulchinsky Levison credits her grandmother as the reason Mayfair began. (Read all about the store here.)
In the 1950s Shirley talked Seymour--who was in the refining and liquidating business—to settle down on Long Island and run, not sell, the purchase made of Mayfair Jewelers, so named for the shopping center it was located in. The Kulchinsky family moved to Woodbury, Long Island, from Eldrige Street, where their original store, SDK Refining Company, was located.
In the late 1960s, son Dan Kulchinsky joined the business, followed years later by grandchildren Justin and Lauren. Today, Justin is president, Dan is CEO, and Lauren Kulchinsky-Levison is vice president of the fourth-generation company. Another granddaughter, Kristin Farrell, is a jewelry designer whose line is featured in the store, and grandson Ryan Star is a rock musician whose albums are featured on the Mayfair website (as well as in the iTunes store.)
Shirley Kulchinsky was a trailblazer in the industry, always a tastemaker for new and exciting designers, says Levison. She and Seymour traveled the world for exciting and beautiful jewels. “Trusted and beloved by her clients, there wasn't anyone she couldn't talk to. She was the most incredible salesperson people could write books on how she could sell,” Levison says proudly.
"One hell of a jeweler!" Shirley Kulchinsky hard at work in the early years at Mayfair's Commack, LI store. Photo courtesy Lauren Kulchinsky Levison
Shirley Kulchinsky also was a vice president of North American Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and a passionate leader in the art of women having it all, says her granddaughter. “She had a career and a family, which for her generation was a rarity,” says Levison, who says her grandmother finally retired “kicking and screaming to Florida.” But even then she continued to learn, and became quite an accomplished painter.
Shirley Kulchinsky is survived by sons Dan and Robbie Kulchinsky, daughter Debbie Kulchinsky Simon, son-in-law Mark Simon, daughter-in-law Joan Kulchinsky, and 10 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.
Says Lauren Kulchinsky Levison, “Shirley was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and one hell of a jeweler! She was an inspiration to many and will be missed.”