People Matter: Paula Zielinska, assistant manager of Highworth Emporium, Highworth

With The Retas 2020 sadly having been cancelled for this year, due to Covid-19, the opportunity to shine the spotlight, not only on card retailers’ stores, but also the outstanding members of their staff as contenders for the Best Retail Employee was removed.

This has prompted PG Buzz to launch a new element, called People Matters, which will allow retailers, publishers and suppliers to highlight some of the wonderful individuals in our industry.

Here, Aga Gabrysiak, co-owner of independent card and gift shop, Highworth Emporium (in Highworth, Wiltshire) tells us all about one young woman in her team – Paula Zielinska, assistant manager of Highworth Emporium – that she describes as “our heart, our soul, our pocket-sized hero.”

Above: Aga (far left) with her partner (in life and business (Richard Marsden), Paula (centre) and colleagues.
Above: Aga (far left) with her partner (in life and business (Richard Marsden), Paula (centre) and colleagues.

Setting the scene

“We have always worked with young people. No idea how it started, but our staff in the shop are and always have been young, and by young I mean between 16 – 23 years old.

Young people are like sponges, they absorb the knowledge, the tasks and as everything is so new for them, they appreciate it more. The smallest achievement grows to a huge success – their first sale, first balloon they make, first telephone call to a supplier, it all is a massive step for them. Therefore, they become passionate about what they do and they easily become a part of our Emporium family. Yes, it brings some difficulties too. Most of our young employees have never hoovered or mopped! Not to mention cleaning a toilet 😉 so we need to teach them basic life skills too. And of course they can quite quickly move on to something different, more inspiring, so they often stay with us for about a year or two only.

But, if you find a gem like Paula, who absolutely loves what she does and she has no inclination to move anywhere else (fingers crossed), you just know that she is the one! And despite her age or actually maybe because of her age she absolutely would deserve to be Employee of the Year!

Above: Highworth Emporium is a much loved shop in the local community.
Above: Highworth Emporium is a much loved shop in the local community.

Introducing Paula

Above: Paula behind the counter.
Above: Paula behind the counter.

“Our lovely Paula is the heart and soul of the Emporium, filling everyone’s hearts with kindness and joy while also filling their ears with her endless stories and juicy tippets into her hilarious life. Paula has been with us for just over three years now joining as a 20-year old, straight from . To us she is more than an employee. She is family, which is exactly how she makes every customer and company we work with feel. We’ve never known someone so hardworking and frankly unbreakable, while still doing it all beaming from ear to ear. Her heart and soul, right from the beginning was fully dedicated to the shop. There wasn’t/isn’t anything too hard or too much trouble for her.

Above: Every year Paula is entrusted to organise the shop’s charity events choosing charities who really need the help.
Above: Every year Paula is entrusted to organise the shop’s charity events choosing charities who really need the help.

She welcomes every customer warmly and genuinely, remembers customers’ names and their family stories, giving each and every customer time to find that perfect card or that perfect birthday present.

She is constantly thinking – coming up with quirky new ideas to inject excitement to the shop and our customers alike.

Our customers love her chat – her quirky statements and her values on life. Usually because she is updating them with the hilarious tales of her shih tzu puppy who is just as sassy as her.

Paula’s commitment is total – she loves her work. She even regularly comes in on her days off to just check up on everyone or even help out if she can.”

Above: Paula has appeared on live radio and in the press where she talks about the shop.
Above: Paula has appeared on live radio and in the press where she talks about the shop.

Paula’s greeting card passion

“Right from when Paula started – her passion quickly became cards and Jellycat! Cards – she loves the detail, the selecting of the new designs, finding new companies and everything involved in the planning and rotation of designs to make sure our customers stay inspired. She is very instrumental in the selection of new companies, designs and captions.

We do not operate a stock control system, we run double pockets for our whole display, so attention to detail and controlling stocks is very
important.”

Above: As well as cards, Paula’s other main product passion is for Jellycat.
Above: As well as cards, Paula’s other main product passion is for Jellycat.

How suppliers describe Paula…

“For someone so young she is without a doubt very mature, enthusiastic and has a great passion for her job. She clearly enjoys the environment and people she works with, and you can see why customers buy things they may not have needed as she has a natural charm and smile.” – Rosie Trow (agent for Glick, Redback, IC&G, Jellycat, Wrendale, etc.)

“Paula is a very important part of the Emporium – she has great enthusiasm and is a constant help to customers and suppliers. Her knowledge and ideas are a great asset to Aga and Richard Marsden, Aga’s partner in business and love.” –  Mike Sherlock from UK Greetings

“Paula is always helpful and efficient and goes the extra mile to ensure customer and supplier requests are met. Her happy smile helps brighten everyone’s day!” – Bob Morgan from Widdop & Co

“Paula is a great asset to Highworth Emporium, always welcoming customers with a big smile. Her efforts developing the social media campaigns for the business have been particularly valuable this year, with unique ideas and keeping the audience engaged. When assisting with buying at trade shows, Paula has a good eye for the next trend, ensuring products are relatable to customers’ needs.” – Rebecca Morrisoe from Joe Davies

How her co-workers think of her…

Above: Paula (fourth left) with colleagues.
Above: Paula (fourth left) with colleagues.

“Paula is an exceptional team leader. She is a believer in leading by example – taking us with her. She never lets anyone feel overwhelmed or lost because she is always there to help or to teach.

Although she is assistant manager of the business, she has never once made anyone feel inferior; she’s constantly boosting people’s confidence.

Never once in her years at Emporium has Paula’s smile or shine dimmed and she’s even been able to share it among her co-workers – in short, she is our inspiration.”

Above: Paula having fun on the Pioneer stand at Spring Fair.
Above: Paula having fun on the Pioneer stand at Spring Fair.

What a young woman to have in the greeting card community!  If you have someone you would like to be featured in People Matters, contact PG Buzz editor, Jakki Brown on jakkib@max-publishing.co.uk

Top: Paula Zielinska leads by example, always with a smile on her face.

 

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