2020 Under 40: Chelsea Fishman, Barker Specialty Company
CHELSEA FISMAN, 31
Account Executive and Senior Marketing Manager
Barker Specialty Company, Cheshire, Conn.
In just three short years, Chelsea Fishman has already accomplished one of the most difficult goals in the promo business: exceeding $1 million in annual sales. At the same time, this popular team member has been instrumental in co-handling internal and external marketing initiatives for promotional products distributor Barker Specialty Company. But the promo world almost missed out on this person, who her nominator describes as “indefatigable.” Right out of college, Fishman worked in the nonprofit sector, providing marketing and advertising expertise to a performing arts theater. But she craved something more to put her talents into. At the suggestion of her mother-in-law, she turned to promotional products. “I learned what the industry was about, and fell in love with the fast-paced environment and ever-changing clientele,” Fishman said of her employment with a small distributorship. Barker later hired her as an account manager, and she has since earned a few promotions. Today, Fishman deals with a variety of clients ranging from local, small businesses to national accounts, collaborating on new product ideas, creating mock-ups and sending spec samples to help in the buying process. On the marketing side, she updates the company web pages, supports internal recognition initiatives, grows the business’ social media presence, facilitates new client and referral programs, and more.
Why she loves her job: My favorite part of my job is getting to know my clients and feeling like a true part of their team. I greatly value being depended on and love nothing more than when a product truly resonates with the client and they are thrilled with the end results. My other favorite part is the creative aspect of brainstorming unique ways to achieve a client’s desired goals. When a client comes to me and says, “Tell me what you got in this price range, for this type of an event,” my head starts spinning with ideas!
Age roadblocks and advantages: The biggest challenge with my age is that while I am well versed in this industry, I service a lot of clients who are older and see me as a “young kid.” Once I explain logistics of concepts and ideas, I tend to earn my credibility by showing how I can save them time and money. The biggest advantage of my age is that I still have a lot of time to continue to perfect my skills, grow accounts and pursue further certifications in the industry.
Her biggest career influence: Our president Gerry Barker has been an invaluable mentor and supporter from day one. He takes the time to work through complex projects, encourages education and growth and is open and receptive to new ideas on how to continue to position Barker Specialty as a leader in the industry.
Her most meaningful business accomplishment: Reaching over $1 million in sales this past year has been an unbelievable accomplishment. I don’t think about each order placed as a monetary gain. I focus on the order itself, making sure the product is of good quality, and [the] branding is accurate and [the] details of the order stay on track, from start to finish. Taking a step back to see the overall picture at the end of the year and realizing how much I’ve done is really astonishing.
Her differentiating factor: I take a more in-depth approach to working with my clients beyond a transactional partnership. For example, once a client told me they’d be out of the office for their upcoming wedding. Upon learning this, I sent them a branded cake serving set as a wedding gift. They were so surprised and appreciative of the thoughtful gesture. In addition, I send Barker Specialty-branded onesies to expecting or new parents, dog bandanas if a client mentions they have a dog, a thank-you gift for a referral and a welcome package to new clients placing their first orders. I also make sure to consistently send “thinking of you” virtuals to clients. I’ve also been known to send spec samples to clients without notice. I’ll include a short note explaining why they are getting the item and how it could be used for future needs. Each of these touch points keeps me top of mind and their go-to when promotional product needs arise.
What she hopes to accomplish in the next year: This year, I plan to earn my MAS certification with PPAI. I plan to continue growing my education in the industry so I can better educate myself and my clients, and share valuable information within my company. I am currently our custom packaging specialist at Barker Specialty and I strive to be the best resource I can for my colleagues. Additionally, I am focused on furthering our marketing initiatives and getting our best practices in sync.
Why she believes the future is bright: There is no doubt in my mind the print and promo industry will thrive in the next five years (and for many years to follow). People love to receive promotional products. A [recent] study from PPAI said 99 percent of people go out of their way to get a promotional product. There are many more facts that further prove the power of promotional products is just as strong as ever. Print continues to evolve as well. The abilities to use unique printing techniques and materials, print variable data and use geo mapping keeps print modern and trendy. After all, who can resist that soft touch paper on a flyer or business card?
How the industry can better recruit young talent: I don’t think enough people know this industry exists. I didn’t! When I was just out of college applying for jobs, I don’t recall any listings in the promotional products industry. I think that our industry needs to approach colleges and engage with students majoring in relevant career fields. These are the future leaders that will help propel this industry forward.
What she does for fun: In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our 17-year-old Shih Tzu and 1-year-old Labradoodle. We are working on training our Labradoodle in advanced commands and tricks. One day it would be our dream to be able to train him to be a therapy dog visiting nursing homes and spreading cheer to those who need it.
Read the complete list of Print+Promo Under 40 honorees here.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.