We spent the afternoon with Karli Newman, Gordmans buyer of fragrances, cosmetics, and personal care, and chatted about everything from trends to traveling, to the one thing that has helped her most in her job as a buyer.

Name: Karli Newman

Current Position: Buyer of Fragrances, Cosmetics, and Personal Care

Education: Arizona State University

Born and raised in Omaha, Karli decided to take a new path and attend college at Arizona State University. After graduation, she moved to Chicago for one year, headed back to Phoenix for a few years, then came back home to Omaha to raise her family. Karli worked in Gap stores for 15 years before landing a buying position at Gordmans in Omaha.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

karli newmanBelieve it or not, when I was in elementary & middle school, I wanted to be a zookeeper. I did some behind the scenes activities at the zoo and researched the job and what type of classes I should take in high school and college. Dissecting a fetal pig in high school honors biology class quickly ended that desire! In high school I became more interested in fashion trends, but that wasn’t so easy in Omaha with no Internet back then. I used to buy W magazine and tear out crazy Calvin Klein ads and hang them on my bedroom walls. I cringe when I look back at my weird haircut and blonde hair in high school, but it was the 80’s.

How would you define your personal style?

My personal style leans casual, not too trendy & not too classic. I love keeping up with current trends (and need to for my job), but I always come back to my tried and true wardrobe staples. I have A LOT of black, grey and denim in my closet. Having worked at Gap, I’m a denim fanatic, but my go-to piece in my closet is a basic black blazer. I always say just have fun with fashion. My husband once gave me a crazy red velvet coat. It definitely needs the right occasion, but when I can wear it, it’s so much fun.

What is something about your job that you find really interesting or fun?

I’m lucky enough to be able to travel in my job. My area of responsibility doesn’t require me to travel as often as others, so it is something I look forward to. I usually travel to market about seven times a year to Las Vegas, New York, and Florida. When I am not running to appointments, I check out local restaurants and try to fit in some time to shop. Hey, it’s my job to shop the competition and know what they are doing! My biggest travel tips are to pack light, roll your clothes, and never check your bag.

What piece of advice would you give someone looking to become a buyer?

karli newmanWork in a store. Knowing how to merchandise product to impact sales, process stock deliveries, place merchandise on fixtures, move through the markdown process and assist customers provides critical learning that cannot be gained any other way than by doing it. My 15 years at the Gap were instrumental in knowing how to be the best buyer – even Distribution Analyst, by managing how many pieces to send to the store and how it would look. If you don’t have the store experience it doesn’t even register in your brain. My extensive store experience comes into play every day in my job

If you could travel anywhere in the world on vacation for a week, where would you go?

Not sure a week is long enough, but I’d head to a villa in Italy. If only! I’ve been on a cruise before and it was the worst 3 days of my life. Bad food, smoky and disgusting.

What is your favorite season and why?

For the weather, I like summer the best because I am ALWAYS cold. For the style, I don’t know how you beat fall. I live in denim and big cozy sweaters. I think footwear is way more fun in the cooler weather, too. I found a pair of tall boots with soft broken-in suede and fur on the inside that are the only things that keep my feet warm during the winter.

Do you enjoy cooking, and if so, what’s your go-to dish to make?karli

The older I get, the more I like having someone else do the cooking. I do make a very tasty French toast casserole though, but for the most part my husband does the cooking. We have lots of Jewish food for the holidays and he makes killer bacon on Sundays. The trick is to always cook it in the oven, then when it’s halfway done, slather on jalapeno jelly so it gets candied but still spicy.

What is your favorite book or movie?

My all-time favorite movie is Valley Girl. It has the best 80’s soundtrack! It’s a ridiculous movie but takes me back every time. A very close second is Sixteen Candles. Another great soundtrack and some really fantastic movie quotes, “What’s happenin’ hot stuff?”