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

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Karen Herman is CEO of Gustie Creative, the leading Disruptive Retail solutions provider for brands, businesses, agencies, real estate firms and nonprofit organizations. She works with owners, operators, and stakeholders to create exceptional design, marketing and retail solutions that engage, educate and sell products and services. Completed projects range from under $1M to over $330M. Clients include Calvin Klein, Inc., KPMG, The New York Athletic Club, New York Palace Hotel, MediaPost and Zimmerman Advertising. In 2013, Karen founded Gustie Creative, a boutique design and strategy firm that specializes in Disruptive Retail. In 2015, She designed the highly innovative Live Media Trading Room for Zimmerman Advertising in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her latest venture is Founder of Create Disruptive Retail, a mobile design platform that offers Disruptive Retail resources, solutions, and an online community, for the global user. She is the author of “Solutions for Disrupting Disruption, The Essential Guide for Brands and Businesses” and “The Definitive Guide to Disruptive Retail Workbooks.” Karen hosts DisruptShop Workshops online and offline and supports design innovation as a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust and contributing writer to Simply the Best Magazine. Karen has been interviewed or quoted in Forbes, HFN Digital, NPR Marketplace, Independent Retailer, Mashed, Off-Price Retailing, SHOP Podcasts, South Florida Business Journal and Voyage MIA. She was recently named one of the Top 101 CEOs in the Retail Space by Best Startup US.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2023

    Are experiences stealing discretionary dollars away from retail?

    Yes, the appeal of memorable retail experiences will continue well into 2023 and beyond, as consumers continue to look for immediate gratification IRL (in real life) as a response to the pandemic, personal adaption to technology and the changing retail experience. The metaverse has fallen by the wayside as consumers rush to enjoy in-person shopping and interacting with brands and retailers again. Both can really adapt now and be truly disruptive with short-term offline retail formats that start online with any device and are fulfilled offline, in authentic, memorable and experiential ways.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2022

    Will Target’s new store format be even a bigger hit with its guests?

    Research matters. Target's new larger-format store reflects a commitment to fulfilling the shopper's needs for elevated in-store experiences, greater product selection and on-site order fulfillment. All of these factors lead to instant gratification for the shopper and invite a return visit, leading to customer loyalty and brand affinity. Partner this with a solid online shopping experience and Target wins both online and offline. People like to shop, so help them enjoy the experience. That's the bottom line.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    HomeGoods is booking showroom weekend getaways for $29.99 a night

    I'd prefer a traveling "House of HomeGoods" experience that upcycles a shipping container and offers greater reach for customers across the U.S. A weekend stay in Hudson Valley is exclusive, but very limited. This experience showcases what HomeGoods wants to promote and not exactly what the guests may want or like. Our research shows that personal discovery, reward, self gifting, value, and want, are the value propositions for the shopper of HomeGoods. A weekend fully immersed in all of HomeGoods' products may be overwhelming for the guests. It will be interesting to see if this sticks or is a one-off seasonal experiment.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2022

    Hollister intros new way for kids to shop on parents’ dime

    There is a lot to like about Share2Pay and it should be a gamechanger for teens and parents over the holiday season. The fact Hollister developed a proprietary in-house tech to solve a pain point shows the company cares and wants to assist their customers in purchasing what they want. The value add is less returns. The value add is greater communication between teens and parents. The value add is buzz between teens to drive more customers to Hollister. Looks like a tech win-win to me.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2022

    ‘Special day’ promotions can give retailers the distinction they need

    A facet of the creator economy that we are living in today is the consumer's desire to connect with brands that are original, authentic and relevant. Most certainly today's retailers should hold unique special sales days every year to remain relevant, and also participate in day-themed promotions that align with the brand. Campaigns that engage and educate the consumer, not just sell to the consumer, are the key.
  • 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.

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