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13 New Skills That Retail Design Pros Learned During the Pandemic

Buzz Session: Some focused on their craft, while others were swept up in the sourdough-making craze




REMEMBER WHEN EVERYONE was learning to make sourdough?

For the uninitiated, bread-making was a thing that many folks – including retail design pros – took up during the pandemic. Lockdowns also provided the chance for your peers to pursue new trade-related skills.

VMSD recently asked its Brain Squad members: “What new skill or activity did you learn during the pandemic?” Check out how your fellow retail design pros stayed constructive and made the best of trying times.

We got sourdough:

  • “How to make sourdough bread and pizza dough.” — Christen Soares, Field Paoli Architects, San Francisco

And much more – from the practical …

  • “How to deal with staff panic.” — Ron Brunette, Kilwins Chocolates Franchise, Petoskey, MI
  • “Patience … Lots and lots of patience … Don’t think I’d ever practiced it much before Covid.” — Richard Brunning, BrunningVM, Lilburn, GA
  • “Doing a full Marie Kondo on my whole house!” — Cindi Kato, CallisonRTKL, Seattle
  • “I mastered my paper planner. Balancing the work-from-home dynamic wasn’t a new concept; however, adding in homeschooling a tween and splitting time between two jobs, using a planner became necessary. … Starting a fresh book was also deeply satisfying. While it seems like a silly thing to ‘master,’ this tool also put perspective on how to avoid work from pouring into my personal time. I learned how to clean up my desk at the end of the day and close the door on my work – allowing myself the time to focus on my family and myself.” —  Amanda Smith, Amanda M. Smith, Chicago

To the technical …

  • “How to present online (Zoom) webinars.” — Linda Cahan, Cahan and Company, West Linn, OR
  • “Enhanced sketch-up skills.” —  Jennifer Nemec, Ideation Studio, Chicago
  • “Digital whiteboard programs like Miro.” —  Eric Kuhn, Bergmeyer, Boston
  • “Sharepoint as a means for collaborative work and shared note taking.” — Brian Morrison, The Container Store, Coppell, TX

To the extracurricular …

  • “Virtual volunteering.” —  Kira Occhipinti, Luxottica/Oakley, South Amboy, NJ
  • “I exercised more with my additional time not having to commute.” —  Ryan Rosche, BRR Architecture, Austin, TX
  • “Playing guitar and virtual guitar lessons.” — Joe Baer, Zengenius, Columbus, OH

To additional tech skills … and more sourdough:

  • “Improved 3D rendering software skills and baking sourdough bread.” —  Jason Salas, Salas Design & Illustration, Elwood Park, IL

Don’t let FOMO get the better of you. … Join our new focus group of retail design and visual merchandising professionals, the VMSD Brain Squad. Now open to visual merchandising and retail design executives working at retail organizations and their agency partners at design and architecture firms, Brain Squad members are contacted monthly via email for opinions, ideas, insights and experiences. We publish the best responses in feature articles on Join today!





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