Cori Mackie joined the museum six months ago as Museum Shop manager. She brings with her more than 17 years of experience in luxury retail, and you can see her expert hand in ongoing shop changes, from the displays to new merchandise (staff and the public have gone crazy for the museum logo pens and notebooks). We’re happy that after taking a career break to become a mother, Cori chose to reenter the retail arena at the museum, tackling the challenge of running a museum shop, a very specific genre of retail—did you know there’s a Museum Store Association? Wait til you see the merchandise she and her staff have cooked up to go with the new exhibition Art Deco Hawai‘i. Cori sat down to answer a few questions about her experience and future plans for the shops.

Tell us about your retail background.
My background is in luxury and specialty retail, predominantly in merchandising focusing on enhancing the brand image of retailers and focusing on customer service and product assortment. I was with Prada as their General Merchandise Manager, for Ralph Lauren I was in charge of the brand and merchandise image of their retail boutiques across the U.S., most recently I had my own company and I worked with the mainland retail properties in Hawai‘i.

Why the move to a museum shop?
The museum has always been such a special place for me.  My first museum experience was taking classes here as a child. Being allowed access made such a big impression on me. I remember going downstairs, through some back doors, like a secret maze! I still have the self-portrait sculpture that I did, which I wanted to use as my photo! Then later I was involved with ARTafterDARK and the Starlight Ball as a volunteer. Now, I feel lucky to work every day surrounded by art and a fantastic group of coworkers and meeting museum visitors.

How has the transition to a museum shop been—have there been challenges?
It has been a positive challenge of observing the great diversity of visitors here at the museum and working to create an interesting, appealing assortment of things for customers to peruse.

What is your vision for the shop and what can people look forward to over the next year?
The goal is to keep much of what our members love and enjoy but also work to broaden the assortment and diversity. We hope to create a destination shopping experience where visitors and, especially, our kama‘aina residents can come and find original items for themselves and for gifts. The perfect way to support the museum! We are also planning to have some special events during the year.

Art Deco Hawai‘i is the first exhibition you’ve created merchandise for—what was the experience like, and what can shoppers expect to find?
I am very excited to have this exhibition to center merchandise around. The color, romance, and history of the art is appealing in so many ways. We have vintage Ming’s jewelry, vintage carved-wood perfume bottles, a custom surfboard emblazoned with a Eugene Savage painting. Layered into that will be a variety of items featuring artwork from the exhibition. We’ll have silk scarves printed with Eugene Savage’s Island Feast, a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle of Savage’s Aloha…the Universal Word, compact mirrors bearing Shirley Russell’s Plumerias and Edward Eggleston’s Girl in Moonlight with Banjo Ukulele!—something for everyone.

Cori Mackie's clay self-portrait, made in a museum art class about 1977.

Cori Mackie’s clay self-portrait, made in a museum art class about 1977.