Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, Paul Wood chats with 59-year-old Rantoul resident Jill Alred, the owner of Jill's Creative Expressions and an Illini booster.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
5:45 a.m. I exercise, go through the Second Cup for a Chai Chiller and see my friend Ann, go home and get ready for work.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
Just drove through McDonald's. Got a side salad and hamburger and threw away the bun. Brought it back to work to eat.
Best high school memory?
Gosh! There are so many wonderful ones. I'd have to say being elected Christmas queen and serving on student council.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
Danskos. They are very comfortable, and I'd like to think they make me look taller.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
Being at home with Emory and Lindsey and cooking a Sunday dinner.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
The next Illini event.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
Indy Belle (born in Indianapolis on Independence Day), a Yorkiepoo. My granddoggie.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I'd like to think I have a lot of both of them in me. A good sense of humor and good business sense. They were amazing, wonderful parents and my best friends.
What would you order for your last meal?
Hamburger and fries.
What can you not live without?
Family, friends, Illini sports and my jewelry.
Who do you have on your iPod?
Don't have one.
What is the happiest memory of your life?
Having our daughter Lindsey.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
It would be very hard to pick just three people. How about three families? The Ryans, the Alreds and the Grotelueshens.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
"Pay attention every day, and you will learn something new."
What's your best piece of advice?
"Treat others the way I would like to be treated."
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
I started working for my parents when I was 12 years old, making salads at the Karavan (a supper club) in Rantoul. I was paid $1 per hour. It was a lot of fun.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at it?
I worked with my parents, Jim and Marj Ryan at the Karavan and Hitchin' Post for more than 20 years. When they sold their business in October 1990, a wonderful friend, Larry Graham, helped me get started in the awards business. I later purchased the building I am in now and have been in business 22 years.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
It would have to be squeezing too much into too little time.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
Try and look for a reasonable solution — and pray it works.