Chelsea Schreiber

Mall maven Mickey Marraffino makes it happen

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Mickey Marraffino talks to Marjori Madura about this year’s Christmas decorations in a storage unit in the basement of the South Bay Galleria. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Mickey Marraffino talks to Marjori Madura about this year’s Christmas decorations in a storage unit in the basement of the South Bay Galleria. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Mickey Marraffino, Regional Marketing Director of Forest City’s Western Region, based at South Bay Galleria, starts her day way before the mall walkers have time to lace up their running shoes and hit the mall floors jogging.

When she enters the South Bay Galleria early in the morning, the booths selling balloons, lotion and sunglasses are still covered up, their merchandise safely locked down ready for the 10 a.m. opening.

Marraffino, a fast-talking, spunky 47-year-oldwoman, was recently named the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year for her energy, volunteerism and positive outlook on life.

“Mickey has a lot of energy,” said Marna Smeltzer, the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “She’s everywhere, she’s always doing something.”

Nordstrom stylist Sean Dennison and Mickey Marraffino talk to a photographer and model about an upcoming shoot before pulling clothes for the event. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Nordstrom stylist Sean Dennison and Mickey Marraffino talk to a photographer and model about an upcoming photo shoot before pulling clothes for the event. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

As Regional Marketing Director, Marraffino’s days are jam-packed with different jobs. From PR and research to event planning and visual design, Marraffino does it all.

“Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day,” Marraffino said. “I never get to look at my watch, and I’m glad. I used to have a job like that and it wasn’t good for me.”

For Marraffino, keeping busy is essential, and her job keeps her on her feet for all hours of the work day and after.

“As far as marketing jobs go, I think this is the best job on Earth,” said Marraffino. “It doesn’t get any better than this, it’s really fun.”

As soon as she gets to work she hits the ground running, always keeping her iPhone nearby. As part of her work outfit she wears a small orange crossbody purse packed with the essentials — minus her credit card.

“It’s dangerous if I have my credit card,” said Marraffino. “I keep it back in the office — it’s better because when I see something I want to buy, I have to make that extra effort to go back and get my money. That’s the dangerous part of the job.”

Even though she keeps her credit card back in the second floor “Mall Manager” office, she still eyes colorful sweaters and well-made pants throughout the day. Because her job is so visible and focused around clothing, Marraffino often works with a stylist at Nordstrom to keep her look on-trend. “I try to keep up with the styles,” said Marraffino while thumbing an orange knit sweater. “I’m from Massachusetts, so I’m attracted to cold weather clothes.”

Marraffino has become a very visible part of the Redondo Beach community in recent years.

“Its part of my job, I need to be out in the community,” said Marraffino. “I bring the community into the mall.”

Mickey Marraffino scratches her back while in costume.

Mickey Marraffino scratches her back while in costume.

Not only does she dress the part for her job, during September in Redondo Beach she can be found strutting her stuff at the lobster festival, as the lobster. She also plans on starting a “Lobster University,” for other people who want to participate in the festival as crustaceans.

“You know the way the lobsters are constantly in costume and engaging in being that friendly character?” Bibi Goldstein, one of Marrafino’s co-volunteers said. “Mickey doesn’t need the costume, she’s just like that.”

“It’s not just that she’s involved in Redondo Beach,” said Smeltzer. “But her volunteerism goes way beyond our city with all the organizations she’s in.” For Smeltzer, she sees Marraffino’s greatest asset as her love for creating an experience both in the mall and in the community. “She doesn’t just want to work, she wants to be part of the community, and she tries to create an experience for people with whatever she’s doing.”

Marraffino has worked in D.C and Moreno Valley and the South Bay Galleria one other time in 1995 before coming back in 2010.

Members of the Leadership Redondo Class of 2011 celebrate the completion of their class project on Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Members of the Leadership Redondo Class of 2011, including Mickey Marriffino (not pictured because she’s taking a picture), celebrate the completion of their class project on Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

The past year she was part of Redondo Beach’s Leadership Redondo Class of 2011. They worked to install bike racks throughout the city as well as recruited over 6,000 people to join the Blue Zones program.

In conjunction with her job, she helps to make a difference in the community through her PR connections and mall promotions. Not only did she install bike racks at the South Bay Galleria as part of her Leadership Redondo project, she also invites other non-profits into the mall during holidays and special events. She is also a volunteer at the Crown Jewel Club, a member of the Soroptimists International, a member of Desinging Women South Bay, the Manhattan Beach Women in Business Marketing Chair, a committee member for the Redondo Beach Visitors Bureau, a Blue Zones Project Advisory Committee member, North Redondo Beach Business Association member, a Redondo Beach Library Foundation BOD, a founder of the South Bay Shifters Walking Moai, and a Shift health and wellness support coach.

Goldstein has a theory about how she gets everything done. “I think the biggest reason she can do it, while we all have the same 24 hours in each day, Mickey has a much bigger heart. She gives up her nights and weekends and looks at it as her opportunity to continue to reach out and meet people.”

Last Friday, Marraffino was busy.

Mickey Marraffino talks to the Madura family about this year’s Christmas decorations in the Kohl’s wing at the South Bay Galleria. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Mickey Marraffino talks to the Madura family about this year’s Christmas decorations in the Kohl’s wing at the South Bay Galleria. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

First thing in the morning she met with M & M Display Inc., a father and daughter pair that decorates malls for Christmas. Marjori and Mark Madura got started with their project for the day as soon as Marraffino found the keys to the basement storage units. They entered through a side door and continued to the mall’s coffers until they came to a storage cage filled with Christmas decorations. Marrafino, always on her phone and alert for problems, talked the pair about this upcoming Christmas and brought them upstairs to discuss new ideas for the new holiday. Standing outside Kohl’s, they looked at designs and photographs as they planned out additional stars and lights to stay true to the mall’s “Modern” Christmas theme.

“This year we want to make sure there’s a good visual from the first to the second floor,” Marrafino told them. “I trust you as long as you understand my concept and we’re on the same page with that.”

After discussing hooks and bars that the general public walk right past, Marrafino called up two men who conferred with Marrafino and explained the constraints of the ideas. Soon the plans were decided upon and the Madura’s continued their day taking inventory of the Christmas decorations while preparing for the upcoming holiday season.

After finishing with the decorations, she called Sean Dennison, the manager of Nordstrom’s Personal Style Department, before power walking to the other end of the mall to get ready for a fashion shoot clothes-pull.

After meeting with Dennison, the model and the photographer, she watched as the stylish stylist sized-up the model and started putting together outfits for an upcoming fashion shoot.

“I normally don’t do all this,” said Marrafino. “But it’s kind of fun.”

While going throughout her day, Marrafino stops frequently to adjust a sign or pick up a piece of trash.

“Regular people just don’t notice those things,” said Marrafino. “But that’s my job.”

One of Marrafino’s pet peeves is when see sees a sign around the mall that’s misplaced a couple of inches or not updated to the current promotion.

After the fashion shoot meeting, Marrafino doesn’t stop. She continues to her office to grab a quick bite to eat before sitting down to a meeting to discuss TV commercials and black Friday special offers and promotions.

They discuss having a VIP lounge, giving away lift tickets for a nearby ski resort and possibly using a zip line to bring in Santa.

“That’s what I love about Mickey,” said Smeltzer. “For every organization, event, committee or group she’s working with, she wants to put her stamp on it and create a great experience.” ER

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