Todd Kolls’ diamond jewelry business couldn’t have had a more humble beginning.
His first day of business, in a nook in the Cactus Hotel, he was equipped with a cell phone and his children’s laptop and a dream. And that was it.
Shortly after, he found a handsome thrift store desk the manager offered to sell to him for $50.
“I couldn’t get my wallet out of my pocket fast enough,” he said.
His dad found his first two jewelry cases, which he bought for $100 and together they refurbished.
Kolls Diamond & Design is no longer a diamond in the rough. Earlier this year, Kolls purchased Sloper Jewelry, expanding his business to include manufacturing and repair. He recently renovated more space inside the historic Cactus to consolidate all operations and his eight employees.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Kolls said. “I get to do what I love every day. God has blessed us over and over again.”
Kolls and his wife, Christine, who were high school sweethearts, recently celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary. They have three children – Caroline, Jack and Kelton.
Kolls was working for Porter Henderson selling tractor parts when his uncle, a jeweler who catered to Midland’s elite, convinced him he should consider a more long-term career path.
He spent five years taking correspondence courses with the Gemological Institute of America while working for his uncle and, later, Legend Jewelers. After earning his graduate gemologist degree, Kolls opted to open his own business.
“San Angelo is a unique place to do business,” Kolls said. “People give you a chance. If you treat people right, they come back. My motto is, ‘Just do things right.’”
His unofficial motto may well be, “Serve.”
Kolls volunteers with the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, calling it “one of the things San Angelo does right and does big.” He helps oversee gate operations and volunteers on the premium sale committee. He’s active in Southland Baptist Church, helping to teach a pre-kindergarten Sunday school class and volunteering with the bus ministry. And he serves on five boards: the YMCA, the Better Business Bureau, Downtown San Angelo, Inc., the City of San Angelo Development Corp. and Helping Hands.
“I enjoy learning about San Angelo and how things can be improved,” Kolls said. “These organizations don’t ask much. Sometimes it’s an hour out of your day once a month. But it’s important. This is my hometown. I want it to help make it better.”
His service to Helping Hands extends beyond the board table. The charity provides home repairs for the elderly and modifications for the disabled at no cost. Kolls’ father was a homebuilder who volunteered his and his son’s labor to Christmas in April, Helping Hands’ predecessor.
“It’s sad some of the conditions people live in,” Kolls said. “You wish you could do more. But you do what you can.
“It’s one Saturday,” he added. “When you’re done that day and you see the homeowner’s expression, it’s worth its weight in gold.”