Archive for the ‘Featured Chinaberry Employee’ Category

Meet Janine!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Meet Janine! In addition to writing some Chinaberry annotations, she will now be assisting us with our blog and other social media channels.

Janine’s lifelong love of reading led to a career in book publishing, which introduced her to Chinaberry. Now in her current role as Mom, she shares her passion for books with Jarratt, her incredibly inquisitive preschooler, and blossoming baby Nina, both of whom, along with Chinaberry books, make storytime the most gratifying part of each day.

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Tammy Nelson

Friday, June 26th, 2009

You never know what in the world you’re going to find employee Tammy Nelson doing in our warehouse – from driving around in a forklift to schlepping 40-lb. boxes that I can’t even begin to budge! As our Receiving Department Lead, she’s responsible for “receiving” every single item that arrives in our building. When asked about her job, Tammy replies, “One of the best parts of my job is being able to see every new item when it arrives. It’s like Christmas every day!” A stickler for detail, Tammy doesn’t merely open boxes, glance at the new merchandise, and approve them for inventory. She and her team go over EVERY single item with the care and attention of a mother bear with her cubs. Of course, this is good news for our customers. Unless something gets damaged en route, Tammy guarantees the books and products are in pristine condition.

I love hearing Tammy’s warehouse stories. My personal favorite is the one about a pallet of soaking wet boxes that arrived one day. When Tammy opened the boxes, she found them filled with burned books. Evidently, after the boxes caught on fire, they had been hosed down, but by golly, nobody can say they weren’t delivered on schedule! Such is a day in the life of Tammy Nelson.

Tammy herself arrived at Chinaberry in 1994. Her first job was in the shipping department during our busy holiday season. She loved it so much she decided to stay on. Tammy’s one of those people whose attitude is contagious, so first her sister joined her in working here in 1996, and then Tammy’s twin daughters started in 2000. Tammy’s nieces and nephews have worked here during various seasons as well, so when Tammy says, “We are more like family than fellow workers,” maybe that’s because so many are?!

It’s never a dull moment in Tammy’s life – from enjoying long-distance motorcycle rides with her wonderful husband of 29 years to camping in the desert and spending quality time with her beloved grandchildren and family. Tammy says, “I have never worked for a better company,” and I’m here to tell you we’re a great fan of hers as well!

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Karen Knight

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Janet: How long have you been working for Chinaberry?

Karen: I was first hired in April, 2000 to do payroll and some bookkeeping. When I was offered a job elsewhere in 2007, I took it, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that Chinaberry is the place for me. After two months, I returned to open arms. You just can’t leave a place like Chinaberry and be happy.

Janet: How would you describe what you do now?

Karen: I work in three departments: in Human Resources, my primary job is payroll; in the Website Department, I turn the ads on and off as inventory changes, copy ads to different websites, and keep an eye on other websites that have links to our website; and in Accounting, I do sales taxes and anything they need help with.

Janet: What has been your most memorable experience at Chinaberry?

Karen: One of the most memorable experiences was when Chinaberry was threatened by fire. Everyone immediately pulled together to get a rental truck loaded so we could keep the business running if the fire were to reach our building. No one had to ask anyone to help; everyone just pulled together and got busy. The next year the fire was even closer, and in the wee hours of the morning, employees who could get through to the building left their homes to come and make sure things were covered to keep smoke from the merchandise. Together, they stood at the back of the building as the fire approached, hoping it would not hop the roadway below.  No one called and asked anyone to come; they just showed up and got busy doing whatever they could to help. Some employees lost their homes and everything in them. Immediately, the Chinaberry family tried to find out what they could do to help.

I love how employees are quietly watched for their strengths and how management works together to find the perfect fit for employees. Every book and toy is read or tested by employees and their families to make sure it is a fit for Chinaberry kids. We have books you would never find in the mall bookstores.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry books?

Karen: Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry is a cookbook I’ve given to all my children and friends. The recipes are simply wonderful, but more than that, you can find helpful hints like making your own diaper wipes. With five grandkids in and out of our home, we have used that one more than once. In this time of financial struggle for so many people, there are ways to save money and this is a great one. This cookbook is the favorite one in all our homes.  Also, James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is one that my grandchildren and I love to sit and read together.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products?

Karen: The Marble Whacker is a game we really enjoy playing. It gets really noisy with the sound of the marbles clicking as you hit them, but the laughter is the greatest. Also, the Butter Bell Crock is sitting on my counter all the time and part of setting the table.

Janet: Want to share a little bit about your family and/or hobbies?

Karen: My husband and I have five children and five grandchildren with another on the way. We enjoy our Sunday family dinners, especially since all we have to provide is the house because they all do the cooking!

Watching the kids grow and mature and having the opportunity to play ball and go on family bike rides is the best, but never more fun than camping together. Of course our son-in-law claims he will never camp with us again because every time we’ve gone, we’ve run into a bear or two. The last time we went camping, it took us three hours to get to our campsite, but only 1-1/2 hours to load up and run back to the car after bears were headed toward our tents! We’re going camping locally in two weeks and hope to prove we don’t always have bears around. This time, we’ll be in mountain lion country! (We’ve never seen one there, but keep your fingers crossed!)

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Kevin Dillon

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Witty and fun, Kevin Dillon has been a Chinaberry fixture for 8 years now. Company meetings are never dull with his quirky sense of humor! Although he’s our Web Marketing Coordinator now, Kevin was a preschool teacher for many years and has lots of funny anecdotes about the kids. Kevin is married to Jenn who is a preschool teacher. Known to many as the “Movie King,” as he has more than 500 titles in his library, his recall for movie trivia is legendary, as is his love of Mystery Science Theater. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys camping in the great outdoors.

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Leah King

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Introducing . . . Leah King!

When it comes to wearing many hats, Leah King is . . . well, Queen! Leah first walked through Chinaberry’s doors in 1999 and found her niche in Customer Service. Nearly ten years later, Leah says, “What I truly do is work for our customers. When I’m on the phone, I really want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience. I want to represent Chinaberry and the products we carry in an honest and accurate manner so that customers will enjoy their experiences with the items they order from us.”

Since April 2008, detail-oriented Leah has dedicated much of her time to our new Quality Assurance Department (in addition to continuing to work part-time in Customer Service!).

Not only does she verify safety and compliance information, but also our own product standards. Is the product safe? Non-toxic? Age appropriate? Leah leaves no stone unturned.

As you may remember, the summer and fall of 2007 brought a plethora of toy recalls for lead in paint. In response to these recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 was created. The CPSIA not only  covers toys, but ALL products meant for children 12 and younger, including books, clothing, electronics, housewares, school equipment, and more. Leah has been diligently contacting the manufacturer of every item we carry and following up with them regarding the new guidelines developed by the CPSIA. It has been no small undertaking!

On a lighter note, I asked Leah to tell us her top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products, and she enthusiastically said the Neti Pot and Widu hairbrush. She’s given them both to everyone she knows. (Given the number of people Leah knows, I’m surprised we have any left in stock!)

When asked if she could have dinner with any person in the world (what would an interview be without THAT question?!), who would she choose and why, she said: “There are so many different people I can think of, but I guess it would be Desmond Tutu. For as much as he has fought for, lived through, and witnessed, he never fails to have a smile on his face and joy in his heart. He loves a good joke, too!”

We shudder to think what life would be like here at Chinaberry without Leah, but if she were to choose another profession, she says she’d like to be an environmental and social consultant for businesses to help them operate in a cost-effective yet sustainable and socially responsible manner — either that or be a rock star. That’s our Leah!

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Mary Arter

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Janet: Tell me the story of when, where, and why you found yourself at Chinaberry!

Mary: I started working at Chinaberry in 1987, when my children were 8 and 11. The story of how I came here is one of those serendipitous experiences that sometimes occur (some people say they are always occurring) in life. I had been at home with my children since my oldest was born and was ready for something new. One Sunday evening I was bemoaning my need to get out of the house to my sister-in-law. She tried to reassure me, saying, “Something will show up; it always does.” I was skeptical. The very next morning, she called, saying “Here’s your job” and put Ann, Chinaberry’s founder, on the phone with me. My sister-in-law owned a shop selling used children’s clothes and that morning Ann and her daughter, Elizabeth, had come in looking for clothes for Elizabeth’s doll. They made their purchase and left, then turned around, came back into the store, and said, “You might think this is crazy, but my husband and I sell children’s books. Do you know anyone who might want to work with us?”

My sister-in-law said she knew the perfect person and called me right there on the spot! We arranged for me to come for an interview the next day. Now, mind you, I had not worked outside the home for 11 years, had not touched a typewriter since college, and had never even looked at a computer. I am also a slow mover, taking time with whatever I’m doing. Ann and Ed were speedy types and wanted someone to take some of the burden off them. The business (which was located in the garage of their home) was growing and they had two young children; it was just getting to be more than they could handle. I am forever grateful that they were willing to take a chance on a completely inexperienced, computer-phobic, “process-oriented” person who loved children’s books. I was like a kid being let loose in a candy shop!

Janet: How would you describe what you do now?

Mary: Over the 20+ years I’ve been here, I’ve at least had a finger in just about every job, from packing orders in the warehouse and answering phones in Customer Service to entering and processing orders. (more…)