Karen Epple

Karen Epple

Director Fabric Sourcing




Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on. We’d love to hear more
about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

As early on as Junior High School, I knew I wanted to be in retail. I attended the University of Wisconsin – Stout, majoring in Retail Merchandising with a minor in Business Administration. I was sure I wanted to be in the stores because I had an extremely dynamic instructor for the store management class. However, I did my internship in the buying office of Sanger-Harris in Dallas, and I was hooked on the headquarters side of the business. Upon graduation, I took a job with Sanger-Harris and we soon merged with Foley’s. I worked in the buying office for 6 years before coming to Target. Once at Target, I bought multiple categories – jewelry, sunglasses, suncare, hair accessories, handbags, mens apparel and baby formula! In the middle of all that, I briefly left Target and worked for a decorative accessories company in product development. But my career lead me back to Target. I eventually made the move to garment sourcing, where I was in Kids Apparel. My next move was to stand up a new capability – Fabric Sourcing – and that is where I am today. Somewhere along the line, I found the time to get my
MBA at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of?  Why?

My most notable achievement in my career is standing up the fabric sourcing capability at Target. I literally started as a one person team in Minneapolis and built the team into a major competitive advantage for Target, with team members in 6 global offices.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

Network, network, network. It’s as much “who you know” as “what you know”. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get to know more people in the industry.

What is your morning ritual?

At Target, our purpose is to help all families discover the joy of everyday life. At a recent company meeting, I had the pleasure of listening to Shawn Achor, a happiness researcher. I was greatly inspired by what he had to say. His research says that 3 things impact your happiness – optimism, gratefulness and social networks – and increased happiness raises the performance of just about anything you can measure. So, my morning routine starts with gratitudes. Every morning at the breakfast table, my family shares 3 things that we are grateful for – it can be as small as “I am grateful the MN Gophers are undefeated in football” (this was my husband’s once) to “I am grateful I was able to be away from work and care for my mother in her last 4 months of life” (that was mine, thank you for the support, Target!). It’s an amazing way to start your day and I can tell you – it absolutely works. Not only do I feel “lighter” and more optimistic, I also feel less stress. And who can’t use a little help in that department these days! Take a listen to this brief TEDTalk to hear a little more for yourself.


What would you say your personal superpower is?

I am really fun (ok, this is kind of meant to be funny – but there is absolute truth in it). That means I play hard, even though I work hard. And my team does the same for me. We have a great time together as a Target “family” – we take the time to laugh, have fun, and know each other as individual human beings outside of work, but we are also all extremely tenacious in driving results for the company.