By Nicole Tinkham
I’m Nicole and I’m one of the customer service representatives at Keeton’s. We get artists in here all the time who absolutely love our store and I would really like to share with you what the Keeton’s life is really like. You may be thinking “what does this girl know about art supplies? She works in the back office dealing with office supplies.” But I actually started out in the art department, moved around a little, and am also writing these blogs and posting on our Facebook page. So if you were wondering who you’ve been talking to on the Keeton’s Facebook page that would be either me or Caleb, our customer service manager.
So let’s get right into what it’s really like to work at a small office and art supply store…
I began working at Keeton’s 4 years ago after graduating from Ringling College of Art & Design. You may think I’d be an expert on everything art related but let me be honest, I did all my artwork on the computer and while I’m familiar with different art supplies and techniques, I’m by no means an expert. The Keeton’s art department can be so overwhelming for a newbie like I was, trying to learn about all these incredible supplies! When I had a bit of downtime I’d walk up and down the aisles, discovering new things then running over to Joey asking her what it was used for. I definitely learned a lot from her. I was also able to sit in on the art demos we had going on and play around with new mediums in the evening after work with a lovely artist named Nan.
My time in the art department was definitely an experience. I’ve worked at other stores in the past but there’s a totally different vibe when you’re working in a creative space. Customers are so much fun because they’re there for their passion, not because they have to be. They actually really enjoy being there! Also, my creative co-workers love being here too which makes all the difference.
You may be wondering why I left the magical art department to work in the back office in customer service. I switched over because Keeton’s saw my potential when it came to my creative skills on the computer through writing and graphics and I needed an area where I could focus on that. Even though I remained in the same building (we only have one location in downtown Bradenton, FL), the switch was huge. I was now talking to customers over the phone about office supplies. Again, it was an opportunity for me to learn even more and connect with new customers that I had never talked to before. I honestly don’t think I could do this customer service work without my co-workers though. Being a small company, we really help each other out. Everyone here has their own areas of knowledge (Jeff is the machines expert, Sue knows everything about custom stamps, Dianne helps customers get their logo on various products, just to name a few). Every single person has their thing that they do well and when we all come together, I truly believe we create an experience for the customers like no other.
Being a smaller company, we are also able to do fun activities outside of work too. We’ve done a sunset cruise, bowling night, and will even have a paint night right here in our brand new art room. I’ve worked at much larger companies in the past and we never once did anything like this. In fact, at a previous job I got married and changed my last name and no one even noticed!
It doesn’t matter what department you’re working in, Keeton’s as a whole (office and art supplies alike) is a friendly and creative place. It’s incredible what can be accomplished when working in the right environment with the right people. And by people, I mean co-works AND customers alike. You all are incredible and make coming to work every day worthwhile.
Thank you for being a reader of our blog, follower on social media and customer of ours. You really make Keeton’s a special place.