Recently engaged, Mark Mazzarese and Blakely Childlow balance busy careers, a full social calendar and five kids.
Story by Katy Schamberger | Photos by Kenny Johnson
When your family owns and operates one of the most luxurious jewelry stores in the Kansas City area, Mazzarese Jewelry, picking an engagement ring for your fiancée can be easy—or one of the hardest decisions in the world. Mark Mazzarese opted for timeless over trendy when proposing to Blakely Chidlow.
“It’s a classic oval diamond surrounded by diamonds,” Mark says. “It’s not too big—it’s something that she can be comfortable wearing all day long. I fell in love with the stone and went from there.”
As for the actual proposal? Well, let’s just say it was a lot more impromptu.
“My intention was to propose before the end of the year ,” Mark says. “We were at a Halloween party. Blakely and a friend of hers were dressed up as Fembots, I was dressed as Dr. Evil and a friend of mine went as Mini-Me, all from the Austin Powers movies. Blakely and I were away from the crowd, having a private discussion, and one of our friends yelled out, ‘Why don’t you just marry her?’ I was overcome in the moment, so I dropped down to one knee and proposed with a light-up sparkly ring.”
When Blakely’s actual ring arrived, Mark found an opportunity to get their kids involved in the celebration—Blakely has two children, Mark has three. Before leaving on vacation, Mark gathered the kids, who told Blakely that since she was leaving, “she better wear her ring,” then Mark presented her with the diamond.
It’s a moment that sums up the family dynamic. The five kids—two 13-year-old twins, two nine-year-olds and a five-year-old—all “get along splendidly,” Mark says. On weekends, there’s a good chance you’ll find them doing something involving sports, including soccer and baseball.
“The kids also enjoy going out and spending time as a group, whether it’s going to a restaurant, a Royals game or another sporting event,” Mark says. “We try to mix it up and spend time all together, as well as in smaller groups, doing things that one or two of the kids would really enjoy.”
Spending that time together and building a bond is something that Mark’s had instilled in him since his youth as he watched his dad, Antonio, and his mom, Tosca, build the family business. They opened the first Mazzarese jewelry shop in Oak Park Mall, which later grew into two stores. Mark began working for them in 1995 and, in 1996, they built a new concept for a lifestyle center.
“It was a different approach to jewelry,” Mark says. “More design-centric with tailored, sophisticated collections—what clients wanted.”
That lifestyle concept proved more successful, prompting a later closure of the two mall stores so that the sole focus could remain on the Leawood lifestyle center, where Mark works today as president of the company. Children don’t always follow in their parents’ footsteps in a family business, but Mark says working in jewelry is always something he’s enjoyed, largely because of the nature of the industry.
“It’s a fun category because you’re dealing with something that nobody needs but everybody wants,” he says. “You become part of the story and celebration, establishing a personal connection that takes the fashion and styling to the next level. You find out how a client’s styled, their lifestyle, their personality, all so you can help them pick the perfect piece.”
You might credit Mark’s discerning taste with not only helping clients select the jewelry of their dreams, but also his bride to be. Mark, a Kansas City native, has been with Blakely, originally from Carmel, Indiana, for a couple of years, and they are in the midst of planning a destination wedding to be held later this year.
“I enjoy the pomp and circumstance, but I want the wedding to be special for her, to have what she envisions,” he says.
Juggling wedding planning, a career in outside sales and family life—Blakely might just be Superwoman in disguise. And Mark isn’t shy about telling the world what an important role Blakely plays in his life.
“She does a phenomenal job balancing business and family,” he says. “I can call her at four in the afternoon and tell her we have a black tie event later that night, and she’s not fazed. In fact, people are surprised when they hear we have five kids.”
Despite busy, demanding schedules, Mark and Blakely’s children are the central focus of their lives. Mark says that Blakely describes herself as “a bonus mom. My kids really appreciate her and how she makes life fun.”
The best part? They don’t have to be doing anything at all to enjoy each other’s company, one of the signs of lasting love.
“At the end of the day, whether we’re in black tie or watching Netflix together as a family or just the two of us, I love spending time together,” Mark says. “She completes me and makes me a better person.”