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20 Questions With Vanessa Keefe, Vice President of Marketing, The Paper Store


Vanessa Keefe is the vice president of marketing at The Paper Store, a one-stop shop for fashion, jewelry, spa, home décor, toys and more. She’s also a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member! In this member spotlight, we asked Vanessa a series of questions about both her professional and personal lives so that you can get to know her better.

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
    The Extinction Trials” by AG Riddle (I love sci-fi). Books on tape are my addiction. Any time I’m in the car I’m listening to them … I go thru at least two a week.
  2. What’s a tip you have for productively leading a remote or hybrid team?
    My team is hybrid (three in the office and two WFH). I’ve involved my team in making many of the hybrid decisions so they feel in control of their destiny. Advanced notice and planning when they’re needed in the office for key meetings has also been important. We also play a lot of fun trivia games that help us interact when we have our weekly “all team” meetings to keep the in-office interactivity going online.
  3. What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
    Not advocating for myself. I expected to work hard and that I would be noticed and eventually rewarded. I learned the hard way that if you don’t ask for things, you don’t get them.
  4. What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
    It’s lonelier than you think.
  5. What’s the best way you motivate team members?
    Empowerment. Telling a team member that you have the confidence in them to make the right decisions and you empower them to make those calls is liberating to the employee (and helps build self-confidence — especially in young women).
  6. What woman inspires you right now and why?
    I have a friend that has a disabled child and she’s faced with him never being able to have an independent life of his own. She has an entirely different way of looking at the world and I find it truly inspiring. I’m always amazed at her positive attitude and how she never lets the day-to-day stuff affect her.
  7. What are you looking forward to the most for the industry in 2022?
    It would be nice to have a win for our industry this year (any win). Between COVID, the economy, Amazon.com, inflation, and supply chain interruptions, retail is a challenging industry to be in. It’s such a vast and great industry, but we’re getting a bad reputation right now and it’s tough to encourage people to join retail.
  8. What’s one thing you look for when interviewing a job candidate?
    I love to hear about how they nurture and grow their employees. That really tells a lot about people.
  9. What’s something that you learned about yourself in the past year?
    Everyday crises aren’t a big thing anymore. I handle them every day and since the pandemic I now look at them as opportunities.
  10. What’s your favorite podcast?
    I love the Try Guys podcast. I followed them from their Buzzfeed days into starting up their own company and comedy brand.
  11. What values are most important to you as a leader?
    Honesty, trust, dedication
  12. What’s the most important thing people should know about you?
    I don’t take anything too seriously. We can always use more humor in our lives.
  13. What’s one habit you adopted while working from home that you’d like to keep with you as you return to the office?
    When I worked at the office I was never home for family dinners or to help with homework. I loved the family time I got during the pandemic. I loved being able to shut my computer off and roll myself literally into dinner with my family at 5:15. I still try to preserve this one to two nights a week even though I’m back to spending most of my time in the office.
  14. How would you describe yourself in a single sentence?
    A person who goes out of her way to make others feel valued.
  15. What’s your favorite app?
    WeatherBug. Gardening is my therapy, so any chance the weather is good I’m out in the yard.
  16. What do you do to recharge?
    Gardening. I love it as it clears my head. Digging in the dirt is my therapy.
  17. What’s your biggest accomplishment?
    Motherhood. Being a mom teaches you so much about yourself and what you’re capable of.
  18. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
    Develop a network of peers. I didn’t ask for help early on in my career as I didn’t want people to think I didn’t know my stuff. Women need to help raise other women up. Start your peer group early and use them regularly — you’ll be surprised how many people come to help support you.
  19. What gets you up in the morning?
    I genuinely enjoy my work and I like to be challenged with new opportunities each day.
  20. How would you describe your leadership style?
    I encourage others to challenge the current thought process, to think outside of the norm. Once you empower your team to think this way it really opens up a world of new possibilities.

Interested in connecting with women like Vanessa? Apply today to become a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member!

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