Retail has long been in Kriston Dean’s blood.
Both her grandmother and mother worked in the retail industry, and her mother, Diane Kelly, still does.
So the fact Dean followed in the family footsteps should come as little surprise.
“I grew up in retail; I went on my first buying trip when I was 12 years old,” Dean said.
“I learned about buying techniques and gross margin and all those things.”
“Because I was involved so young, it was just natural for me to get my first job in a retail store and then move my way up,” she said.
Dean worked her way up to district manager and then buyer, and so forth.
Twenty-six years later, Dean finds herself as one of design:retail magazine’s Top 40 under 40, a list of the best and brightest in the North American retail industry.
The 38-year-old Dean is the vice-president of merchandising and marketing for Purdys Chocolatier.
“I feel really honoured and proud to be part of this group,” she said.
“It is a North American list, which is pretty amazing, highlighting the best and brightest in retail.
“There are some amazing companies on the list … so to be among that peer group, I feel very fortunate to be part of (this list).”
Dean flies to New York for the awards ceremony next week (May 18).
In addition to being recognized at the ceremony, the recipients will all be paired with members of the Markopoulos Circle. The Markopoulos Award is a legacy award given every year to one outstanding industry professional with a history of excellence, mentorship and achievement.
The idea is to foster casual conversation about the past and future of the industry, blending the perspectives of the experienced with the up and comers, Dean explained.
Dean has been with Purdys since 2007.
She was recruited to the company and relocated from Calgary, with her husband Kelly and their 13-year-old daughter Abby and 11-year-old son Memphis.
And while at their age, Dean had already accompanied her mother on a business buying trip, her own kids have visited her Vancouver office but have not gone on a buying trip.
“(But) they are well aware of my habitual research when we are shopping retail,” she said with a laugh.
“In my role, we are really focused on evolving our store design and our packaging and really understanding what the customer is looking for, which is really where my passion and my role takes me,” Dean said.
Purdys Chocolatier is Canadian owned and the leading chocolatier in Canada with 72 stores in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
This is not Dean’s first time in the news either.
Dean was in disguise working at Purdys locations in Toronto and Edmonton as well as the factory kitchen in Vancouver.