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Employee of the Month:
Todd Quarles

Interview by Katie Gregory

Our Design Build Manager Todd Quarles went from building forts to building stores and he's making (not breaking) hearts.

Hi Todd, tell us a little about yourself pre-Urban!

I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago. My brother and I owned a skate shop, RQ Boardshop, with one of our friends for about nine years, and we also had an ice cream shop called I Scream.

What do you do at Urban Outfitters?

I started at Urban as a display artist in 2005 in Charleston, SC, and I moved to Philly for a job at the home office in 2008. I'm the Design Build Manager.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Pretty much all of it. I get to travel all around the country, I get to create cool stuff, and I work with so many super creative and talented people. What's not to like?

Did you always see yourself in a hands-on job like this, or did you have different ideas growing up?

I was always taking things apart and building stuff when I was younger, so I guess it makes sense to be doing what I do. It started with building forts. I always came up with the design and my friends would help me build them.

You spend a lot of time traveling for store openings. Can you give us a brief rundown of how store openings work, and everything that's involved?

It's broken into two weeks, the Design Build week and the Store Opening week. Both weeks use teams from our stores. The DB projects are permanent wall finishes and sometimes fixtures; our projects range from reclaimed painted wood pixel walls to lighting installations. Then we turn the store over to the SO team; that team installs all of the seasonal displays and merchandises the whole store. Both weeks are a crazy process. People never believe that we will open on time but we always do. I've done 52 openings over the last four years and we've never missed an opening day.

Which opening has been the most fun, and why?

The one that stands out the most is Pacific Beach, CA. The last night there we got the whole crew to rent bikes. There were 23 of us and we rode all over town. We parked all the bikes side by side in front of a bar where we hung out and ate dinner and people kept asking us "if we were some sort of bike gang." Afterwards, we rode to an old amusement park where there was a super old wooden rollercoaster. It was pretty rad.

We've heard you get a hash tattoo for every store you open. How did this start? How many do you have now?

Well, John Booty (the UO Store Opening Merchandiser) and Travis Serpa (the UO Senior Operations Manager) talked about doing it but it never happened. Then John and I traveled together for about two years so we decided to. I need to update my tattoos; I have 36 hash marks right now but I have 16 more to add to get to 52.

Right now you have an art installation called Less Than Three up now at The Gallery at 543 on UO's home office. Can you tell us about it?

I make hearts out of wood and I put them in a little shadow box with an ornate frame. There's no deep meaning, I just like making stuff out of wood. I use many different types of wood and every heart I make has its own character. It's kind of cheesy but I named the show “Less Than Three” (<3). I'm not sure everyone got it, but I thought it was pretty funny.

What type of woods did you use to make them?

Plywood, reclaimed wood, skateboards, different exotic new woods—just all kinds of wood.

You also build furniture. Do you have a workshop in your house, or a studio somewhere?

I have a small workshop in my house. I live in a loft space in Northeast Philly. There was a bedroom, but I turned that into my workshop since it has a ceiling so I could try and keep the rest of my space dust free. It's small but it works.

When you're not working or building, what else keeps you busy?

Riding and working on my motorcycle. I went on a few runs last year and plan to do more this summer. Also, surfing, going to shows, checking out art, and as much as I travel for work, I still try to travel whenever I have time off.

Choose:

Conversation hearts or Hershey's Kisses?

Hershey's Kisses

A funny Valentine's card or heartfelt and schmoopy?

Funny

Giant teddy bear or a dozen roses?

Giant teddy bear holding a dozen roses, duh...

We are forcing you to watch a rom-com:
Pretty Woman or Pretty in Pink?

Pretty in Pink for sure.

Shop His Picks
Wooden Heart Shop
Follow Todd @thewoodenheartworkshop
Email for Inquiries