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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Dream BIG Class of 2014

Melissa Karrer

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Melissa Karrer

Melissa Karrer, area designer at Crate and Barrel, is pursuing an MBA from University of Phoenix.

Making an entire store a canvas for her vision

Dreaming big takes vision. As an area designer for Crate and Barrel, Melissa Karrer has made a career out of what people see. Working in several locations throughout the New York City area, Melissa creates each store’s visual floorplan each season, as well as helps store teams and leadership increase their visual knowledge and execution. “I love interacting with people and being a part of a team environment,” she explains. “I also love working on developing routines and efficiencies to make a more productive store.”

I love interacting with people and being a part of a team environment.
Melissa Karrer

Melissa has been working in retail since high school. Even though she assumed she’d grow up to be an artist or a visual designer, she’s realized that, 18 years later, she’s still able to utilize her visual passion. Today, her canvas is a store and her palette is the merchandise.

With the help of an MBA, thanks to a Dream BIG scholarship from University of Phoenix and the NRF Foundation, Melissa believes she can strengthen her knowledge of the business world and further lead teams to achieve the best results possible.

Whether it’s her ability to quickly adapt to the ever-changing world of retail or her skills at guiding teams effectively, Melissa is confident that blending her talents and experience with an MBA from University of Phoenix will help her achieve her dream of leading a corporate visual team.

As a mother, Melissa knows the importance of teaching children the right way to do things. She credits her mom — her biggest inspiration – as the one who instilled in her the work ethic, passion and commitment that drives her forward today. “Seeing how she was able to be a successful businesswoman and also a fully committed mother allowed me to see that I can do the same.”


The National Retail Federation collaborates with University of Phoenix to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship to people who work in retail. This year, 20 recipients received full-tuition scholarships to help them pursue their big dreams. Meet the Class of 2014 and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.