We are a fairly new company, but we have some heavy hitters who help to make our stores successful. One of our key players is Head of Stores, Rebecca Caddell. I’ve heard bits of her story and have always been intrigued. I finally asked her if she would let me interview her and she agreed.
When I asked her what first attracted her to Marbles: The Brain Store she said the whole concept of a store filled with products that strengthen your brain was very intriguing. Her curiosity was piqued. Then, when she met with Lindsay Gaskins (CEO), Karen Luby (Co-founder and former VP) and Scott Brown (Chief Merchant), she loved their “think outside the box” mentality.
Years of retail experience had taken her to almost every mall in the U.S. and numerous retailers in Europe. When Lindsay told her that their goal was for the customer to have an experience in the store, Rebecca recognized that this was not like the average retailer and wanted to be a part of it. The other thing that won her over was Lindsay’s personality. “She was kind, clever, energetic, creative, and she smiled a lot! It made me want to work with her.”
Rebecca spent her early career as an art designer. Her first job was as a fashion illustrator for a small Dayton/Hudson department store in Oklahoma. She found her niche and had a blast. Her work began to earn awards and soon she was promoted to Art Director. When the company was sold she moved to San Francisco and took a job as a layout artist at a new company called Banana Republic. At the time, BR had only three stores and its brand was about travel safari. She says there was a little bit of snobbery at first because she was a young woman from Oklahoma, but she had a great portfolio and worked really hard. When their current Art Director left after 3 months, Caddell was promoted to the position. She built the Art Department and created campaigns that helped grow the company. By the time she left BR they had 100 stores.
She moved on from the up and coming retail chain and took the position of Creative Director for the billion dollar Limited Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. Her job was to develop a really unusual image for the brand. The challenge was very appealing, but a bit daunting. Her experience was in illustration and the Limited focused on photography. There was nothing else to do but dive into and learn the world of fashion photography. She flew all over the world looking at clothes for campaigns and locations to use for shoots. She hired photographers and fashion models including big names like Claudia Schiffer. “The whole experience changed how I see things…like how I see light on a person’s face”.
Rebecca spent 8 years with The Limited, but found that she couldn’t handle the dogged ambition and greed that the corporate world showed her. She felt like she was becoming someone that she didn’t want to be. She left her job and went on safari. Yes, literally, she went on safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana. For two months she lived in a tent and traveled through the country. She fell in love with the beautiful sights and sounds of this exotic world. This time allowed her to purge out the corporate negativity she had absorbed and think about what she really wanted.
When the safari was over, she decided to stay longer and went with her guide to track white rhino. They drove across Zimbabwe in a beat up van, stopping to pick people up on the way. Being a white woman surrounded by African men was quite an experience. One of the riders took them to his village and introduced them to his family. Rebecca says “everyone was pouring out of the van and being greeted like family. I was a little nervous, but I was the last person left. When I was introduced, I was enveloped by the family, especially the kids who had never seen a white person before. This cloud of children, all ages, were hugging my legs and greeting me with smiles. There was no fear or hesitancy, only warmth. I’m sure I cried. It was a tipping point for me. After that experience, I put my house up for rent and went to live in Zimbabwe for a year. It completely changed my life.”
When the year was up, she came back to the US and started an art gallery and design business with her sister in Columbus. They opened four galleries and were very successful until the economy took a nose dive. After that, their expensive luxury business dwindled and they were forced to downsize. Rebecca made another huge change in her life around four years ago. She got married and moved to Chicago. She found out about the opportunity at Marbles: The Brain Store and the rest is history. Rebecca says she always thought she would end up in the advertising world and maybe someday have her own firm, but she found that world too slow. She enjoys retail because it moves fast and you see the fruits of your labor quickly. It suits her and she loves being a part of this exciting and growing company.