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The Story of Kalifano

In the summer of 1912, Abdullah Khalaf immigrated through Ellis Island from Palestine in pursuit of his American dream. He didn’t have much money to his name, but he did have big aspirations as he traversed the streets of New York City as a young man.

 

A diligent man, he worked a variety of jobs until he was able to save enough money to buy some inventory and open up his store in New York City’s Financial District, where he sold furniture and women’s undergarments.

 

He quickly found success in his business and later retired back home in Palestine, living there with his family until his final days. Abdullah’s son, Tawfiq, moved to the United States again some years later. He settled in the American Midwest, traveling across farmlands and selling watches, jewelry and other small items to everyday Americans. His American dream was the freedom to drive across the country and hear the stories of farmers and ranchers. He fell in love with the lifestyle of the farmers, as it reminded him of his homeland of Palestine, where tending to olive trees is a national pastime still carried on today. With his thick Arab accent and cowboy hat, Tawfiq’s charisma and tact made him loved by nearly every customer he dealt with. It was even said that one customer loved him so much that they bought him a Cadillac for Christmas.

 

Tawfiq ultimately fell ill and died of cancer, but his four sons—Jawad (Joe), Rafat (Ralph), Nashat (Nash) and Ismat (Bob)—carried on his legacy in pursuit of their American dreams. Together, they moved to the United States in 1964 and immediately got to work. Each brother carried a different business sense that allowed them to find great successes: Together they were a team that was loved by many. The brothers fell in love with Native American jewelry. They were fascinated by the skill of Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists and were inspired by their ingenuity. Working with the native artisans, the brothers opened multiple jewelry stores in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado that specialized in Native American and fine jewelry. During this time, Ralph’s only son, Alex, began to grow into the business.

 

From the time he was 12, Alex worked full-time in his father’s stores. He had a natural talent for the business, drawing on the skills of his uncles and the stories of his ancestors. Alex began to take greater responsibility in the family business in high school and ultimately took full control by the time he was 18. A few months after taking control of the business, Alex was visiting his family in Palestine and fell in love with a young Palestinian-American woman named Fahima. Alex and Fahima describe the moment they met as love at first sight; they were engaged only three weeks later.

 

In the months and years that followed, Alex began to expand and diversify the business. In April of 1996, just a week after his and Fahima’s eldest son, RJ, was born, Alex traveled to China for the first time with his uncle Bob, where they began to design the world’s finest collection of hand-carved gemstone globes. As time went on, Alex and Fahima had three more children: Rami, Mohammad-Judeh and their only daughter, Jannah. Alex worked long hours and traveled near and far to grow the business into a world-renowned brand with products featured in casinos all around the world and in over 120 cruise ships.

 

As the Kalifano brand grew, Alex and Fahima began to introduce an eclectic selection of high-end fossils, minerals, crystals and recycled metal art, along with paying homage to the company’s roots with a selection of original Native American jewelry. During this time, Fahima also began balancing being a superhero mother with curating new product lines and designing and managing our retail locations. RJ, Rami, Mohammad-Judeh and Jannah all work in the business.

 

It has been over 100 years since Abdullah came to the United States. While much has changed, many things are very much the same. Our business was founded on the idea that there is no substitute for hard work, excellent quality and superb customer service. Our product lines have evolved from undergarments to recycled metal sculptures. We have moved from New York’s Financial District to the Las Vegas Strip. At our core, we work every day to honor those who came before us and work to leave a better life for those who will live beyond us.

 

We started as a family business and we intend to keep it that way. From our family to yours, we welcome you to Kalifano. We promise to treat you with dignity and respect and will work to provide unmatched customer service. Whether you are a head of state or a head of a household, whether you spend $10 or $10,000, know that we are honored to serve you and will cherish that responsibility every day.

July 06, 2019 — RJ Khalaf

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