Karen S. Herman

CEO and Disruptive Retail Specialist, Gustie Creative LLC

With two decades of executive level experience in commercial design, planning, project management, and strategic marketing, Karen Herman is passionate about good design, design strategy and design innovation. She works with architecture firms, retailers, creative agencies, corporations, real estate companies, property developers, and owners of small-to-large size businesses to design highly specialized brand experiences, interior spaces, short-term retail destinations, interactive displays and collateral materials. Karen has completed many small-to-large scale projects ranging from under $1M to over $300M, in the US and abroad.

Karen’s first design consultancy was in business for 13 years and clients included Calvin Klein, Inc., New York Athletic Club, New York Palace and MediaPost Communications. In 2011, she completed the Kauffman FastTrac New Venture Program for Women and received an award during Global Entrepreneurship Week for her concept video on Strategic Stores. In 2013, Karen launched Gustie Creative LLC, a design and strategy firm that creates end-to-end sustainable design solutions and specializes in Disruptive Retail. In 2015, she designed the highly innovative Live Media Trading Room for Zimmerman Advertising in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Karen’s latest entrepreneurial venture is Founder of Create Disruptive Retail, a mobile design platform that offers Disruptive Retail resources and solutions for brands, businesses, agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Karen is the author of The Definitive Guides to Disruptive Retail and enjoys hosting DisruptShops in North America, South America, Western Europe, and the Caribbean, to facilitate Disruptive Retail for brands and businesses.

Karen supports design innovation as a Judge for Shop! Design Awards 2020, a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust and a contributing writer to Simply the Best magazine.

Other Links From Karen Herman

Design Blog:

  • Posted on: 09/19/2022

    Will Patagonia’s ownership help save the planet and its retail business?

    Yvon Chouinard was visionary 50 years ago when he founded Patagonia as a purpose driven company. Today, he remains steadfast with the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. Purpose driven means an unwavering commitment to the brand, the company, the customer and, true to Patagonia, the planet. To fight climate change, we need change, and this is one brilliant way to move forward.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2022

    Where is Starbucks’ NFT odyssey heading?

    Fantastic move by Starbucks to work a new digital community called Starbucks Odyssey into its loyalty program! Offering "journeys" using gamification features and rewards of "journey stamps" aka NFTs that lead to value-added perks is spot-on. Starbucks is making Web3 super user friendly here and removing the barriers of confusing acronyms. Very timely as we head into the holidays. Love it!
  • Posted on: 09/15/2022

    Will upgraded virtual try-on tech get more Walmart shoppers to say yes to the dress?

    Yes, Walmart's upgraded try-on tech that personalizes digital shopping for fashion customers should bump up sales. "Be Your Own Model" personalizes discovery of new and innovative brands, has gamification features that offer a fun digital experience for the shopper and appears easy to use. For anyone who has been in a department store fitting room recently, the alternative of a virtual try-on experience is a very attractive choice.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2022

    Should retail worry about the ‘quiet quitting’ trend?

    Quiet quitting is a manifestation of our rapid adaption to technology through the COVID-19 pandemic along with many other factors, including how employees are redefining work boundaries and how employers are adjusting to these changes. The acronym IRL (in real life) is crucial to understand, from all viewpoints. How do employees want to be engaged IRL? How can employers improve engagement IRL? This is the new reality for work life going forward.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2022

    Nike takes the week off

    Employee burnout is affecting more than half of today's corporate workforce according to recent studies. Given this data, Nike’s “Well-Being Week” is well timed and well planned to show compassion and care for employees. Truly disconnecting can only be achieved en masse and Nike being in tune with employees gets this fact. Nike’s “Well-Being Week” offers holistic advantages for employees and reflects a caring culture.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2022

    Should more retailers aim for their customers’ funny bones?

    Authenticity is the strongest connection a brand can build with the customer. Today's consumer is much smarter and has so many channels to shop through. Yes, consumers seek experiences with brands, experiences that enrich, engage and enlighten. Humor is one approach, among others. I do not believe that brands have the data insights or tools they need to deliver humor, in particular, in the best way. However by focusing on authentic brand messaging, a humorous approach may develop.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2022

    Are mall shoppers hungry for in-stock data?

    Simon Search is a great tool for the digital-first shopper. This shopper most likely has already web-roomed for the products that they are looking to buy in-store and an exclusive digital tool, like Simon Search, can really help in the last stages of the discovery process. Most important for retailers on the app is that their store inventory be up-to-date and well organized. This is an excellent opportunity to gain customer loyalty.
  • Posted on: 06/24/2022

    Will a new rewards program prove Bed Bath & Beyond’s critics wrong?

    Bed Bath & Beyond is redesigning the in-store experience and rolling out Welcome Rewards is a smart move right now. The first updated store just opened in NYC and offers online-to-offline shopping, shop-in-shops and curated private label items. Customers already have curbside and in-store pickup, same-day delivery and free shipping as options. Let's give Bed Bath & Beyond kudos for focusing on the customer, as the company works to offer a more engaging in-store experience.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2022

    Will Walmart become the go-to shopping destination for cord cutters?

    This pilot for Roku's ad buying platform, OneView, is a much needed boost for Roku as it navigates the competitive streaming landscape. Offering Roku Brand Studio to design branded content for streaming and shopping gives more reliability to the effort. I see this as a solid partnership and anticipate an excellent pilot launch to follow.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2022

    Victoria’s Secret creates an online marketplace for women-led brands

    I definitely see an upside to Victoria’s Secret launching a curated digital platform more inclusive in products and sizes and spotlighting women-led indie brands. It's more than time for this change and it broadens Victoria's Secret's reach to today's consumer, who does not like to fit into old stereotypes.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2022

    Are ‘neighborhood stores’ what Google fans have been searching for?

    Offering the exploration and use of hardware as a hyperlocal experience is a very good idea and I really like Google's concept here. I'm also tracking Meta and the offline-to-online stores the company is opening to let customers experience their hardware. Long live brick-and-mortar and the magic of experiential retail!
  • Posted on: 05/23/2022

    Do consumers want highly-personalized fridges?

    There is nothing creative about personalizing your fridge doors. MyBespoke is going too far with personalization here. Samsung is spot-on with personalizing the color, material and modules with its bespoke products, but a static image on the front of a fridge is fringe at best and will appeal to a very select group of consumers at best.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2022

    Is the retail sky falling?

    Agree with your points, storewanderer. One popular example of differentiation in the restaurant sector is the popularity of Food Trucks. They are not inexpensive but they gain tremendous customer loyalty and WOM advertising. Uniqueness, memorable experience, perceived value and contactless shopping all come in to play here. These factors make the "special" difference.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2022

    Is the retail sky falling?

    The retail sky is not falling, but it will be fragmenting into smaller offline footprints, reduced inventory that is highly curated and greater differentiation of products in-store. We will continue to see increased digital choices in-store that maximize the shopper's use of the smartphone as their primary shopping tool. As operating profits continue to decline, retailers will be looking to make these choices to become more agile and move to improve performance over the next 12-18 months.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    Starbucks' concept of creating a “digital third place” that is powered with NFTs and metaverse content is spot-on. I am already talking with partners and clients about the new brand journey. It is a fluid movement between offline, online, and the metaverse. Brands and businesses need to start planning now and Starbucks, as usual, is ahead of the game.

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