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Employee of the Month:
Our San Francisco Store Merchandising Manager is an ever-changing unicorn with an eye for amazing vintage fashion.

Interview by Ally Mullen

Hi Laura! Can you introduce yourself?

I'm from Ukiah, CA. I live in San Francisco, where I have mainly been for the past eleven years. I'm the SMM (the store merchandising manager).

What do you do at Urban?

I oversee department merchandisers that treat their floor as their own stores. I have a team of two merchandisers and two display artists. We also have MTLs, which are merchandiser team leads. This is more of an entry-level position where we train them visually and operationally. I make sure everything happens, plan, ensure we are executing smart business decisions and curate the store to flagship standards.

I am also a mentor, which is a fairly new program, two years I think. I work with my mentee who is already someone we saw great potential in to bring her to the next level. We visit each other's stores bi-weekly and work on the floor together. We also do a lot of photo sharing and she sends me styling so I can give her feedback. It's really a great program and awesome to see growth. She's doing such a great job!

What store do you work at, how long have you worked for us and how did you get started at Urban?

Store 15, the Beast. I just hit my ten-year anniversary last October! I grew up with my friend Ronnie Hart, who was the store manager here (The SM role is the operational side, and my partner. Together the SMM and SM team up visually and operationally to run the store. The Yin and Yang!), so obviously I applied! :)

What's a typical day like for you?

A typical day includes a lot of running around (there are a lot of stairs in that place), a lot of planning, touch-bases, conversations and emails. And some fun styling.

What's your favorite part of your job?

I love my job. Everyday is fun and I work with the raddest and most creative people. It's the people. I love seeing what we can accomplish.

What's the most challenging part about your job?

Tough, honest conversations—but they're the most important.

How about those manikins? Any horror stories about them?

There were many times I've been attacked. I have war wounds to prove it. They are really vicious.

What's the funniest thing you have ever overheard a customers say in the store?

I had a lady tell me she was an heiress and a princess. That was kind of sad though.

Do you and your coworkers ever play pranks on each other? If so, tell us about them!

One time we told our former display artist Jason Gillihan that Davey Havok [lead singer of AFI] was in the store and we watched him run up and down all five levels of the store. That was MEAN!

You get to listen to the store playlist on repeat every day, has it influenced your taste in music?

I don't hear it most of the time, but I really love rap and hip hop now. However, I'm clueless about it.

What music do you listen to when you're not working?

Bob Seger, Phil Collins, Ultimate Spinach, Crushed Butler, Graveyard, Pentagram, Thin Lizzy, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen (especially his Nebraska album).

What do you do outside of work? What are some of your hobbies?

Searching for the perfect Bloody Mary with my girls, vintage shopping, and extreme hula hooping (that shit is hard!).

You have an online shop called Black Pyramid. How did you get started doing that?

Jessica [my partner] is the idea factory here. Then we started conceptualizing and had a plan. There were a lot of learning curves, and a lot of dollars from our pocket, but we both really believed in it and kept at it. It's like our love child!

What is it like working with your BFF? Do you ever fight?

Not really. We will get frustrated at times, but that was more in the beginning when it was harder. We both respect and trust each other so much that it's not really an issue.

How do you choose which items to put in your store?

Only the best, man. If I would wear it or a friend, it's a winner.

How often do you end up keeping something you originally bought to sell?

Only sometimes... and it is usually a tee.

What are the best places to shop for vintage in your town?

Afterlife, Painted Bird, The Tarot Woman, Wasteland, No Shop and the flea markets. Those ones are no secret.

If you had to split it up, what percentage of your personal wardrobe is vintage, what percentage is UO, and what percentage is the remainder?

My wardrobe is probably fifty percent vintage (I've donated a lot of it to Black Pyramid because I had too much), forty percent Urban and ten percent from online stores or local shops.

What is your most prized item in the world?

My ring collection and Heather Hoagland (the Assistant Store Merchandising Manager here) for helping me fill this out!

CHOOSE

Colored lipstick or colored hair?

Colored hair. I'm an ever changing unicorn/my little pony.

A baby deer or a unicorn?

Unicorn, duh.

Vintage tees or vintage dresses?

Tees! I like 'em sheer and full of holes.

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