Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. My father started the company with his brothers back in 1993. I was 13 at the time. I began working at the store when I was 15 in the summers stocking shelves, cleaning bathrooms and stocking the dairy cooler, then I became a cashier. I continued working at the store summers throughout college, working in all areas, until my early 20s, when I became assistant manager. I then decided to move to the Bay Area and spent six years in San Jose working in a law firm marketing department. About six years later, during the financial crisis of 2009, I was laid off. I learned so much and knew this wasn’t an industry I wanted, so I moved back to San Diego at the end of 2009 and started back at Barons. I was able to take all my experience and bring it to manage the store’s marketing. I then became vice president of marketing, managing three people. Now, as senior vice president, I’m involved in operations, new store development, marketing, a little bit of everything. I was voted Top Woman in Grocery by Progressive Grocer last year. We have experienced a lot of growth, but are still a small company right now. What’s great about being in a small company that’s growing is we’re constantly challenging ourselves with each store we open. We also bring something new to the customer. Barons Markets currently has seven stores and we’re opening two more this year—one in early summer and another in fall or winter.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. Something we encourage everyone to adopt, and is part of our company’s values, is to hire the right people. We need to evaluate their strengths and let them go. We also want to hear ideas and create a safe place where people can use their strengths and talents to benefit the company. We want to create a culture where people can have pride in their ideas and pride in ownership.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. The best advice is staying present so you can stop and enjoy what you’re doing. We have a fun job, but we’re so busy and life moves quickly. It makes fun times more fun and makes challenging times a bit less challenging when staying present or not making rash decisions and taking the time to think about it. We make better decisions that way.
Q. What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. Something we’re doing more of are delicious grab-and-go entrées that are made with clean ingredients at a good price point. We also introduced salad and olive bars, and will add a hot food bar at our next store. Customers are busier than ever, and the last thing they want to do is think about dinner.
Q. What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. What I appreciate is the deli industry is responding to trends. Vegan and vegetarian items are huge sellers for us in the deli. It’s important to make sure labels are clear, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc. Also, keeping pricing reasonable for customers is key. Yes, we value their time, but also value their money, as well.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. When I first moved back to San Diego and rejoined Barons, I had to convince everyone we had a great idea, but needed a megaphone to let people know. We then decided to come up with a new logo and brand. We spent a lot of time creating the experience so customers know who we are as well as building that brand. It was a hard sell at the beginning. We spent nine to 12 months on the logo and brands. It was in 2010 that we came up with something that can easily evolve as we evolve. Reflecting who we are and creating an identity was a huge challenge, but worth spending time and money on, especially with how competitive the grocery store market is in California.