Kari-Jo Koshes, 37
When Amish furniture and home décor retailer JMX brands hired Kari-Jo Koshes nine years as an executive assistant, she made sure there was going to be a chance to grow.
In her nine years there, she’s never been “pigeonholed into a role,” she says. Every promotion she’s received has been a role that she’s never done before. “It wasn’t an issue because I was willing to learn,” she says.
Perhaps the biggest lesson she’s learned there is simple: walk through the office and tell everyone ‘good morning.’
“We can’t reach targets and goals without a support team,” she says. “It’s really about the team and making those connections.”
That’s a lesson her mentor Jim Miller, CEO of the company, taught her that’s stuck ever since.
When she first met Miller during her interview, Koshes had no idea what the company even did. But Miller was so passionate about it she soon realized, “I’d follow this man anywhere.”
Now, they talk almost daily. Something she’s consistently reminded is to keep things simple rather than looking for a convoluted solution.
As the director of stores and fulfillment, Koshes plays a lot of roles during the day. She oversees operations and strategic planning for JMX Brands current locations, while also scouting neighborhoods to see if it's a good fit for expansion. Koshes provides oversight to hiring management teams, fulfillment, ecommerce team and the company’s shipping division.
Koshes is honest about her job, noting she wouldn’t be able to fulfill all of her roles without a strong team to back her up. The assistant managers really manage the day-to-day roles, allowing Koshes to focus on big picture goals. “Rarely do issues filter up to me because the team is so strong,” she says.
One characteristic that stands out about Koshes? Dedication. When she had an opening in her schedule, for example, instead of taking the time for herself, she started a nonprofit. Brand New Chapters, which collects books to give back to the community for those who don’t have access to reading, began earlier this year and has turned out “way bigger than ever expected. It’s easily a part-time job at this point,” she says. “Everyone seems to have books they’re not reading.”
So far, she’s collected nearly 2,000 books, adding her car and house are packed with books. “The nonprofit is my heart and soul,” she says. “It keeps me fulfilled.”
“If it’s important,” she adds, “you make time for it.”
— Amanda Postma
City of Residence: Sarasota
Employer: JMX Brands
Title: Director of Stores and Fulfillment
Years in the area: 37
Marital Status/Children: Single/No Children
Alma Mater/Degree: UCF: BA in General Business/International Business; Columbia Southern University: MBA in Project Management and DBA
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Brand New Chapters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving new life to old books.
Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Hybrid
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Or the weirdest task you've ever been assigned? Security guard at the 2021 Super Bowl.
What's your top tip for being productive? Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Business Consultant
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Travel
What's the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what's keeping you from completing it? Travel to every country - not enough time off!
What's your favorite podcast? Anything about international news
At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? 20%
What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and other email
What books are you reading now? Of Mice and Men and The Devil in the White City
What's your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? Disco
Who would play you in the movie of your life? Sandra Bullock
Where is your happy place? On the water
Describe yourself in three words: Adventurous, Optimistic, and Persistent
Who is your mentor for your career and why? My mentor is Jim Miller, CEO of JMX Brands. I selected Jim Miller as my mentor because he values my growth as much as I value my growth.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? Jim is a positive role model; he always makes time for his non-profit passions, encouraging me to make time for what is important.