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JOANN Is Crafting a Radically Personal “Creative Happy Place”

One of the hardest things a brand can do is reinvent itself. Which is why I am such a fan of the iconic craft retailer JOANN and their transformation story. JOANN has been making bold, customer-centric moves that have turned the 75-year-old brand into a destination for crafters and makers. In the latest episode of Radically Personal, a podcast from Gladly, I got to sit down with Drew Chamberlain, JOANN’s Director of Operations and Customer Experience. Drew tells me about the importance of building a customer community focused on creativity and his strategy to recruit an empathetic customer support team. It’s exactly the kind of story I love to share. 

Listen to this episode at Apple podcasts, Spotify, or on the web at

JOANN’s mission is to help customers find their “creative happy place.” They can take classes like engraving or 3-D printing, log-on to JOANN’s thriving DIY portal called Creativebug, or join one of the brand’s Facebook groups to chat about projects they’re working on.

Drew also talks passionately about another major part of JOANN’s reinvention: allowing support team members to connect with customers in the channels of their choice—even if they need to switch between phone, email, text or social media. It gets to the heart of Radically Personal customer service. We talk about how this kind of personalized support also empowers their team members to identify with customers as real people—not ticket numbers. 

I really enjoyed talking to Drew about building an empathetic support team because these are the people who are directly engaging with customers. And Drew is a master at recruitment. He loves to ask interview questions like, “On your next job opportunity, what’s one thing you’d like to avoid?” It’s a great question because it really gets at a person’s motivations and who they are as a person.

We both agree that helping customers and team members find their happy place is extremely important to building a beloved brand. 


Drew Chamberlain, JOANN’s Director of Operations and Customer Experience

Drew has been getting Radically Personal since way back in high school when he became his school’s mascot, Sam the Ram. We talk about how playing that role meant that he could only communicate with movement and actions. It was the ultimate preparation for a career focused on human connection. 

If you like what you hear, please subscribe to the Radically Personal podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or at And, as always, thanks for listening and let us know what you think.


I love sharing stories about great customer service. Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for more stories like this one.

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