Southwest Louisiana residents who plan to celebrate Valentine's Day by giving the gift of jewelry can find fine, affordable, Louisiana-designed and fun pieces at Legacy Jewelers (formerly Bodin's and across from Home Goods). Owner Kimberly Griffin has stocked plenty to set her store apart, including vintage designer bags, candles and other items as exceptional as the hunting trophy displayed beneath one of the store's cases.
"My husband's so proud of that," she said with a grin.
Take a minute to scratch the surface of Griffin, and you'll discover a heart of gold deeply engaged in the day-to-day duties of creating a legacy of love.
"My husband and I talk about this all the time," she said. "We talk about our legacy, not necessarily our tangible legacy, but what we want our impact to be long after we've gone. That's why I named the store, Legacy Jewelers."
The stay-at-home foster mom whose goal was, and continues to be, supporting her husband's business endeavor and career, didn't plan to open a fine jewelry store. However, when she heard about this opportunity, something prompted her to lean over and ask her husband what he thought about it.
"I think you can do whatever you put your mind to," he told her.
They prayed about it. And then she dove right in, whole heartedly, just as she did when she moved here in 2011. That's when her husband opened the Chick-fil-A on Nelson Road. Griffin grew up in Boaz Alabama, and has a biology degree from Samford University. Now she calls Lake Charles home. The McNeese Cowboys is her team. Truly.
"We love McNeese," she said. "We're die-hard fans. We love the McNeese State University President Daryl Burckel and his passion and vision for the future of this school, coaches and staff."
The Griffins support the athletic department, attend games, put players to work and have hosted and fed players who couldn't make it home for the holidays.
"We can't buy them meals, but the rules allow that we can cook for them, so that's what we did," she said.
Griffin promotes fostering and adopting. She has fostered 10 children, adopted one and currently has two more in her care. But she says her efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to others. There are 4,787 children in foster care in Louisiana; 500 of these children are waiting for adoptive families and 145 are without an identified family to adopt them.
"I know people who have fostered as many as 90," she said. "Now that's amazing.
She spoke highly of the local Department of Children and Family Services staff.
"I can tell you this," she said. "Those people have my admiration. They do so much to serve the children of Southwest Louisiana that often goes unseen by the public."
Griffin didn't set out to adopt. Her initial intention was to simply provide a safe landing spot for children who needed a loving home until parents could get their lives in order.
"Long story short, I had just finished my real estate classes and test. We had just got another foster placement, celebrated my birthday and purchased this opportunity, all within two weeks," she said.
The store, located at 3133 Ernest Street, has a welcoming Southern Garden & Gun-vibe atmosphere with comfortable leather recliners, a fireplace mantle, a beautiful hand crafted table created by a family member and two hunting trophies.
Rickey Partin will continue as Master Bench Jeweler with offices located inside Legacy Jewelers, just as he did when the Bodins were owners. (He repairs, adjusts, restores and designs jewelry.)
"He makes the magic happen," Griffin said. "He's the guy to see if the stone falls out of the ring your grandma left you, or he can take just about any piece of heirloom jewelry and redesign it into a necklace, ring or earrings to suit your style and taste."
The store has been in business since November 2019. The tagline is, Fine Jewelry. Southern Influence.
"Our store is unique in its content and decor and I take pride in that as we continue to grow and evolve in our brand. I want our guests and community to be proud to have us in Southwest Louisiana," said the down-to-earth Griffin.
She has a sense of humor, and doesn't mind a chuckle at her own expense. When a friend suggested the store carry the New Orleans Mignon Faget designer line, she admitted her mind went straight to the little beef cut, and she knew Faget was also a French word. (Mignon means delicatelwy formed and pretty. Faget means art. Don't worry, you don't have to be able to pronounce Mignon Faget or know French to appreciate the affordability and the natural, organic and bold designs of this line.
To find out more, call (337) 433-3375.