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Employee of the Month:

Interview by Ally Mullen

Jessie Barber is the women's team lead at our surplus store in
Chicago, and she also runs a Mini Penny mini-empire.

I'm Jessie (aka Jessie Cat, Jes, or Chaplin) and I live in Chicago. Someday I'm going to write a book called "My Name Is Not Jessica."

What was your first job?

My first job was at a hometown bakery in Circleville, Ohio, called Lindsey's. We made the world's largest pumpkin pie and the most delightful pumpkin donuts.

What do you do at UO and how long have you been with us?

I have been with Urban for two years. I work as the women's team lead at the Surplus store here in Chicago. It’s a really unique store and my daily tasks range from restocking, "merchandising" sale product, and helping other departments, like the @UOChicago Instagram and other creative tasks, contests, and happenings in our district!

What’s your favorite part about working for the company?

My favorite part of working for Urban would have to be my coworkers—this goes for everyone from a store level to home office. Everyone I have met within this company is creative and motivated. I've never before worked for a company that has been so interested in employee development and it's such a great feeling.

Have you ever caught any shoplifters?

I have caught shoplifters at both of my Urban stores. I think my coworkers kind of laugh at how I handle people once we actually catch them trying to steal. They say that I have a very unique and mom-like "I'm disappointed in you" expression.

What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened with a customer?

I think it was when a customer got a huge splinter in her butt. I really have no idea how she got it considering all of our wood was coated with the polyurethane, but she claimed that her butt cheek was bleeding. It was awkward.

Any celebrity spottings?

The other day First Aid Kit was in our store and I thought our women's accessory manager was going to die with joy.

What’s your favorite inside joke at your store?

One of my favorites is the phrase "with a little hat." A few weeks ago I was going through a box of really assorted transfers and kept commenting that each dress would look really good outfitted with a little hat. From there it stemmed into us finding comically small hats at other stores and texting photos of them to each other or tagging each other on Instagram.

What’s your favorite song to hear at work?

When we're restocking in the mornings, we almost always listen to the Spice Girls Pandora station. I've been trying to convince our staff to have a Spice Girls Halloween theme where everyone can dress up as their favorite. I would totally choose Scary Spice. During open hours, I get really excited when Ceremony comes on.

How did your blog Mini Penny begin?

Mini Penny started out as a blog to document my thrift findings. It slowly evolved into a way to document what I wore every day, my DIY projects, and then into a personal lifestyle blog. I think for a long time after art school, I lost touch with my creative outlets. Mini Penny brought that back and has been monumentally life changing for me.

What would we catch you doing outside of work?

When I'm not working I am usually working on my blog. I spend a lot of time planning, writing and photographing little things for it. I love going on bike rides and hitting up museums. Chicago has some really great places to explore and by bicycle is the best way!

What are you being for Halloween this year?

I still haven't decided! I really want to get my hands on a kitschy vintage skeleton costume but haven't had much luck so far. If I'm going solo, I may opt for a Charlie Chaplin get-up. If I find a partner in crime, I'd love to do an Annie Hall/Alvy Singer costume.

What’s the best costume you ever had?

Some of my favorites have been Garth Campbell and Keyboard Cat, but my best was probably when my best friend and I went as Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty. It was terribly convincing. I had the hair and the whole deal.

What were you most likely to dress up like as a kid?

I made my mom dress me up as a cat every year. It wasn't anything fancy, just an eight-year-old kid in a black sweatshirt, sweatpants, ears and painted-on whiskers.

Jeffrey Campbell or Doc Martens? Docs
Black Hair or Blonde? Black
Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest? Instagram! I'm so addicted!
Phil Chester
Annie Hall or Manhattan? I'll answer Manhattan today but probably change my mind tomorrow.
Doing your hair or doing your nails? These days I prefer to do my nails.