I'm called the girlboss. My father, Vener Barnes, gave me the moniker back when I was new to the book business and marketing one of my first author events for a book titled GIRLBOSS. He can still call me a girl but I don't think many others will (although the staff knows I'll stop reading if they say it). The guy in the picture let me invest our money in a neighborhood bookshop back in 1996. He had no idea what we were getting into but after 15 years, I think we've done pretty well. It's a full full full time job and I love it. Well, maybe not the toilet, printer, and computer problems. I grew up in Houston. I love books. Always have. I know my grandmother is looking over me now. Apparently when I was two, my invalid grandfather was very upset that the whole family was outside and the baby (me) was inside. The story goes that she soothed him by relating that I was comfortably ensconced in the easy chair, reading a book (upside down!). My week goes like this -- read, go to BWB and work, visit my parents, worry about my two sons (Will in Utah, Steve in Oklahoma), feed the dog, see my siblings on Sunday, walk, work out, repeat. How boring and glorious at the same time. I also have the best staff ever -- here they are --
Former congressional staffer turned school librarian turned wife and mother/bookseller. Woman who reads while cooking, not always successfully (cooking, not reading). Tea drinker and lover of pie and any baked goods that Blue Willow staffers make. Native Minnesotan who remembers meeting Tomie de Paola when she was about eight years old – it was my first book tour! Now Children's/YA Specialist, Events Coordinator and general lackey at Blue Willow Bookshop.
Jordan has a tendency to read an entire book in one sitting, which is great for writing reviews and awful for sleeping. She enjoys running (when she isn't injured), singing (entirely too much), volunteering (even though she has zero-free-time) and tweeting (more than she should). She enjoys being the "young adult" on staff and is still trying to figure out the children's section of the store- even though she has been working for Blue Willow over a year.
Once upon a time... there was a little girl who grew up in West Houston visiting Musabelle's. That little girl became a Librarian. Serendipitously, she began to frequent Blue Willow Bookshop, walking through the same wooden door she used to as a child. Valerie got tired of seeing her at author events in front of the counter and offered her a job, and magically, she ended up behind the counter. 4 1/2 years later... you'll have to look hard to find Becky around the shop right now - her day job as the Valley Oaks Elementary Librarian keeps her in a near-constant state of motion. If it's Winter or Summer Break, she'll greet you with a smile. She'll read anything good, and she isn't picky about genre or age level. She's forever in search of her Next Great Read, because when she loves a book, she REALLY loves it! And they all lived... you know... ;)
As the resident engineer-in-a-former-life, Nancy just feels like an anomaly in a bookstore. She prefers to hide in the back room, while not minding her own business. Her favorite buttons in the button basket are "I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was BLAMING you" and "Shut up and let me practice my people skills." If the store inventory is wrong, you can blame her. And if you want a book recommendation, remember, she often judges a book by its cover.
Bookkeeper-not guardian of the books, just head paper shuffler. Has required back room wicked sense of humor. Girl mom, golfer, movie fan. Proves that, yes, accountants can love reading too.
Sara Boyle is a senior at Stratford, where she is co-editor of the newspaper. When not at work she is probably sleeping in or watching reruns of Girls or 30 Rock. Her hobbies include tweeting, Facebook stalking, and reading. She loves sweatpants, her cats Princess and Yoyo, and writing for the Blue Willow Blog!
When you walk into Blue Willow and are greeted with an enthusiastic hello & a delicious baked good, it is likely coming from Martha Moore (not that the rest of us aren't happy to see you, but Martha is the most energized employee by far!). When not working, reading, cooking, gardening, or running, Martha can be found spending time with her family and trying out fantastic Houston restaurants with her husband Leigh (their rule – it has to be outside the zip code). Besides co-blogging with Julia about the latest cookbook, Martha also can’t wait for Thursday morning story time because she’s noticed the youngest Blue Willow customers don’t seem to mind that she sings completely off key.
Julia, the unofficial BWB organizer, comes by her organizing skills honestly. As a child, this self proclaimed neatnik weekly cleaned her room and rearranged the furniture as a personal treat. The spice rack in her busy kitchen is alphabetized and divided between sweet and savory spices. As a full time wife and stay-at-home Mom with 3 busy kids the daily list includes short order cook, negotiator, chauffeur, maid, referee entertainment director and cheerleader.
For 10 years or more, Blue Willow has been Julia’s Happy Place. On any given Thursday morning, you can find her getting the store ready for our youngest readers - she loves to vacuum? She says that she has always felt a warm welcome here at BWB and can't wait to show you the same hospitality on your next visit! Whether it be for a gift, game or a good book - can’t wait to see you!
Victoria is a senior in high school who started coming to Blue Willow as a young child. Now she is card girl (takes care of the two racks of cards; a very important job). She loves reading, Netflix, and trying to draw.
Michelle is a senior at Stratford and an avid lover of food, books, and smoothies. She has many identities: a cheerleader, an actress, an opinions editor for the school newspaper, a girl scout, and a typical teenager (the last one is, by far, the most frightening).
Paige Miller is the proud keeper of consignments at Blue Willow and, generally, a likeable and approachable person. When Paige is forced to leave Blue Willow, life consists of adding Mom of the Year awards to her extensive collection for her groundbreaking work in the difficult arts of keeping boy children alive. A native plant enthusiast, Paige is so ahead of her time, she was once cited by the homeowner’s association for her unruly “weeds” which are now the star attraction for her neighborhood’s butterfly and bird population. Her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Rice University have served her well as a conversationalist, fan of Jeopardy, and former teacher at the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Fame, I’m going to live forever!). Paige enjoys reading Sci-fi, singing and laughing inappropriately loudly, and doing her part to encourage reading among the masses.
Janet is one of the vets that doesn't really fit the mold. She is a musician by training, but loves using her artistic ability to create displays, signs and keeping up with many of the orders that are not books. She has two lovely daughters; the oldest lives close to home with her husband, the younger is living a lovely Parisian life! When not pairing our great children's picture books with the appropriate toys, Janet enjoys seeking out live music venues with her music loving husband, Earl.
Maria is Blue Willow Bookshop's very own magician! She works magic on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Outside of BW, she creates codes which can only be described as 'mouse trap for excel' and is one of the biggest book bloggers in Texas. You won't find her behind the register, but if you see someone snapping pictures at one of our many events, that's Maria performing her photographic magic. Can we say wizard of all trades?
Alice has been ordering books for Blue Willow since the days when we had to look for books in print on microfiche (Yes, Virginia, life existed before the Internet!). She reads only good books, so you can probably trust her recommendations. She also takes lots of vacations.
When you walk into Blue Willow and see a 20-something year old man typing away on his laptop in the corner, don’t be surprised, it’s just Kirk Reedstrom. As the resident internet-guy, he spends much of his time staring at screens, and pondering the great questions of life, like: “Why is this button over here?” Currently a student, Kirk spends what free time he has painting, reading, writing, and playing music.
Kristen has a fascination with agriculture and Primitive survival She treasures books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet, and Clan of the Cave Bears, plus she's always loved the atmosphere of a bookshop.. In the future, she would like to teach Primitive survival and work at a bookshop at the same time! ;)
After 30+ years of teaching, Jennifer has landed at Blue Willow as part of Valerie’s “Keep Jennifer off the Street (and off the couch) Program.” Contrary to popular belief, she does read grown-up books even though she spends most of her time reading middle-grade and young adult books. One of her favorite things to do is to convince reluctant readers that reading is good fun.