Hank Member Spotlight: Karen Shaw

If there’s someone who knows how to bring people together it’s Karen, a Hank member and founder of Picture This Photo Books and Story Time with Karen. After many successful years in advertising, Karen now has a second career: sharing and preserving memories through storytelling. Karen loves where she lives and what she does, and it shows.

How did you first get involved in Hank, and what drew you to the community?

Actually, it was through an old coworker and friend of mine, who also used to work with Hank. We were both in advertising for many years, and then after we both left, we ended up becoming very good friends. And when she found Hank, she was telling me about it. And it sounded wonderful. 

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? And where do you live now?

Well, I'm a tried and true New Yorker. I grew up in Forest Hills, which is in Queens not far from Manhattan. And now I live down the road in Bayside, which is also not far from there. I didn’t get very far [laughing]. I kind of went around the same areas through the years. 

You mentioned advertising - can you give us a little more detail about your professional background? And you do need to tell us about “Picture This Photo Books”!

I started in advertising in an assistant secretarial type of position, but I ended up really making a career out of it. I loved it and I just took it to just greater heights, and ended up becoming a director and so on. 

Then when I decided to leave advertising, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was talking to a friend about it and she said, “Well, what's your passion?” And I said, “I love to do my photo books”, because I did them for myself for a number of years. And she said, “Well, go ahead!” So, I did. And the interesting thing was, I started my business about three months before the pandemic. So here, I have a business that revolves around vacations and events, and now there weren't any. So, it was a little difficult at the start. It was almost like, you know how sometimes, you're so busy and you're so crazy, you have to press the pause button and stop the world so you can catch up? That’s kind of what happened with me. I learned a lot while I was getting started during Covid, then my business started to grow and Story Time was officially born. And so there you are, up to date!

So, you said Story Time was born?

Yes, the photo books are “Picture This Photo Books”. And I pair that with “Story Time with Karen”, where I post a new story, every Wednesday around 12:30-ish on LinkedIn and Youtube. The whole thing is maybe two and a half minutes, just a small recounting of my memories and what I’ve learned in years of doing this. What I’ve found, really, in talking to so many people about their own stories, is that as different as we are, we’re all so much alike. Sure, someone’s mother might have been Irish, or black, or Jewish, so the smells from the kitchen were maybe different. But the memories are the same, and nostalgia is the same, and the feelings you have when you think about it is the same. So that's what Storytime with Karen does. I talk about different memories that I have. And you don't have the identical memories, but you have similar and so the nostalgia comes up and the memories come out. My hope is that it reminds you of your memories and helps you connect to them.

You’ve talked about your current business and your professional background. On a typical day, how are you usually spending your time? Who are you spending your time with?

Well, I'm working most of the time. I'm working. I have to stop working 24/7 is what I have to do!

That's what Hank is for, I guess, pulling you out of work. This is probably work-related, but what are you most motivated by these days? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Yeah, it is my work. You know, like I said, I love my books. So, when I have a client and I'm working on a book, I can sit here ‘till four in the morning. I mean, I just get so into it, I love it. One of my favorite things I’m working on right now is a book called “I Remember” for the Alzheimer's community. 

But sometimes, I’d love to take a break. As a matter of fact, I took Friday and Monday off my calendar and hope to do some catching up on some work and maybe get out of the house.

Now back to Hank - if you could create your ideal Hank experience, what would that be?

What would that be? There are a few things possibly. I love the New York experience. You know, there are constantly new things to do. There are art shows that come up and pop-up stores. Bryant Park used to have Bryant on Broadway. Every Thursday, they had some of the cast singing songs from the various shows. Now they have picnics and movies and all different kinds of things. So, stuff like that are things that I love. Soho and Little Italy. I also love the standard New York kind of things, like Broadway, and I love going to the movies. 

I'm from California, so I've spent some time in New York with Hank, but I don't know all of the little hidden gems. I feel like that's one of the great things about the Hank community, is that Hank members share those with each other.

Definitely. I love doing that with my grandchildren too. They live in Florida, and I've taken them to various things in the city because they love New York. And we've done some great things. We've gone to the Wax Museum, which is a fun thing to do. And it's only maybe two hours. It's not like it's, you know, an all-day thing. And just done different things, and all the different things that I never did being a New Yorker and living here, we did. 

Exactly. And you have a lot to share with the Hank community. Speaking of, what is one thing you'd want the Hank community to know about you that they might not already know?

Oh, well, I don't know. I mean, the only thing that comes to mind is that I’m getting on in years, but I don't live my life that way. I love doing different things. I just like to go somewhere and just have a good time - an adventure. 

Read more about one of our other spotlight members, Arlene, or join in on Karen's favorite activities with Hank in New York!

February 8, 2023

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