It's been awhile since I last wrote, but I have been busy - between working full time (plus the commute), doing my side "for hire" jobs, soccer, yoga, my new man. And amongst all that, I found time to be important. Check it out...my company wrote an article to recognize my accomplishments and my speed at which I've been climbing the ladder. I know, I'm amazing.
Karen Gilmour Draws From Her Talents to Create a Fulfilling Career
Karen Gilmour sat quietly in the café drawing popular children’s book characters. In just a few hours, thirty to forty children would arrive at her store to color Karen’s creations. The picture of the day would depend on the day’s Storytime theme. “I’ve drawn everything from Fancy Nancy to Harry Potter for Storytimes. Before the morning meetings, I’d sketch a quick doodle of the character and by the end of the meeting, I’d have thought of ways to polish it for the children to take home as refrigerator masterpieces,” reflects Karen.
The kids and parents knew her as “Ms. Karen, The Storytime Lady,” and Karen enjoyed the moniker. That was three years ago, when she was the CRM of Store 2946 in Clark, NJ. Her job combined her passion for books with her greater passion for drawing. (A gifted artist, Karen is the illustrator of the children’s “I Am Your Playground” series.) Today, she uses her many talents in the Gift Department at the Home Office, which she finds her most intriguing position yet with our company.
Karen joined Barnes & Noble after graduating from Marywood University in 2003 with a degree in Illustration. She started out as a bookseller at Store 2162 in Edison, NJ, and continually progressed to new and challenging positions through the years. Her constant energy and interest in the job motivated her and led her to more responsibilities. S.F., Store manager of Store 2946, says, “Karen is a quick learner and extremely energetic. While she was here, her customer service skills developed greatly – I noticed she was able to handle tough situations that most booksellers normally shy away from.”
In her current position as department coordinator, Karen is responsible for assisting the gift buyers, coordinating department alerts for e-Planner, helping stores with their gift needs, and setting up displays for in-store promotions and Visual Merchandising Standards publications. T.P., The director of gift merchandising, says, “When it comes to planning and setting up gift fixtures, I make sure Karen is involved because she has a thorough understanding of stores’ workload since she came from the stores. She’s also been able to help others who haven’t worked in the field understand the stores’ needs.”
Now, on any given day, you can find Karen viewing new products and arranging them into gift displays for upcoming promotions, while using her visual and creative background to make them aesthetically pleasing to customers. Karen says, “I’ve been able to combine what I learned on the floor with what I’ve gathered in the Home Office to understand what our customers want. We strive to make their store visit an experience rather than just an errand.”
Karen advises booksellers who want to grow with the company: “Learn as much as you can, ask questions, and take everything in stride. Most importantly, find passion in what you are doing and enjoy it.” What’s next for Karen? She’s still sketching that out, but it will most certainly, she says, “involve Barnes & Noble gift products… maybe some of my own designs someday.”