Meet Charles, Visual Merchandising Sr. Team Leader at Robinson Market District
This week's #TeamMemberTuesday is featuring Charles, Visual Merchandising Sr. Team Leader at our Robinson Market District. Charles has been a Giant Eagle Team Member for over 10 years, starting out when he was 17 years old as a seasonal Team Member and working throughout school before joining our Graphics Arts team. Charles' vision and passion is contagious, whether it's through art in creating a display for a product in the store or an opportunity to educate and spread awareness between Team Members, he is always willing to go above and beyond to make a positive difference in the world.
What do you want people to know about you?
I am a team-player that is heavily oriented around family and art. When I’m not at work creating displays with our Graphic Arts team (Heather and Mercedez) for our guests to be encompassed with, I am enjoying life with my beautiful wife Mia (who is a Fashion Designer) and our 1 year old son, Sir (who is a diaper designer – just kidding!).
Describe your Giant Eagle journey and what has been the biggest influence on your success.
I started working for Giant Eagle as a seasonal Team Member in the Dairy department at the age of 17, working summers and Christmas breaks in between college semesters. It was my first job. After I graduated from college, I applied to be a Graphic Artist and got the job (to my surprise!). I did that for 8 years and gained a wealth of artistic knowledge and experience from the other talented Artists I had the privilege to be around. When a position became available to manage the Graphic Arts department and leave an artistic touch on the displays in the store, I had to take it! Now, here we are 2 years later, and I am still enjoying being a Visual Merchandiser for this great Company.
The biggest influence on my success was my father. He was a hardworking man who instilled that into his children. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have the drive to work tirelessly and consistently to become a better person.
What do you like best about your work at Giant Eagle?
I love the reaction we get from guests and fellow Team Members when we create unique displays and signage in the store. I really think we make a difference, not only in the store, but in the lives of people who come across our work. I love to inspire and be inspired by people who are captivated by art. It feels really good when I’m able to have conversations with people about how art has done something for them in life. Art is one of the only things in life that is everlasting – it has been here forever and will continue to be.
How do you seek to educate and promote Inclusion & Diversity in your professional and personal life?
I was a part of our “Standing Up Against Racism” panels here at our Robinson Market District with Kim M. We had open discussions with Team Members about race, inclusion, and diversity. Those discussions made it possible for people to freely ask questions about issues we deal with as people of color, whether we're at work or anywhere else. I am always willing to educate and answer any questions people have about that. I will continue to promote inclusion and diversity, as having testimonies from people from different walks of life is always great because it gives you a total picture from angles that we cannot see just as individuals.
Name a social justice leader who has been meaningful to you.
A little less-known person who I would consider my favorite current social justice leader is Michael Eric Dyson. He is a sociology professor at Georgetown. He starkly stands out to me because of his approach. He believes that art can be used as a resistance to racism and inequality, specifically hip-hop music. Music and art, in general, are something that we can all relate to or come to a common ground on together as humans. Art is healing, and I do believe that it is slowly but surely contributing to a less racist and judgmental world due to the diversity you see with art. People of all shapes, colors and creeds make and enjoy it!
What is something about your own family traditions and/or culture that you honor and value?
My mother was born and raised in Jamaica. Something that many people don’t know is that Jamaicans are made of so many different people from different cultures and ethnicities. It is so diverse, and you can see it within the culture down to the spices that they use in their food (Asian, Indian, African, and British, just to name a few). With that being said, my mother has always taught us that things are never so “black and white” (for lack of a better term). Never judge a book by its cover - always take the time to “read the book”. Things are not always what they appear to be. I’ve always honored this, and it has given me a positive perspective on life and the people I come across in life.
How has Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments impacted your life?
If it wasn’t for Dr. King and his sacrifices, we wouldn’t live in a country where I can sit wherever I want. I would not have been able to go to school and get an education and have experiences with art. I cherish what his life means to this day. I can appreciate his peaceful approach because it showed that he cared about everybody and their safety. That mentality is what gets us to a peaceful place where everyone is equal, and love leads the way. Rest eternally Dr. King.
Share your favorite recipe that represents your culture.
Jamaican Curry Goat, White Rice and Potatoes