A Mentor and A Friend

two women embracing and smiling

As we celebrate Bas Bleu’s 25th anniversary, we’re reflecting on our history and the wonderful people and (sometimes crazy!) early years that made our company what it is today. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu’s longest-standing employee, brand manager Christie Hall (whom our readers know as CH), reflects on her arrival at Bas Bleu; the company’s early days; and the influence of her mentor and friend, founder Eleanor Edmondson.

I graduated as an English major from the University of Texas in 1995. Having no idea what to do with myself, I decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, where my brother was in graduate school. To make rent money while I searched for a job, I called a temp agency, and the very first place they sent me was a fledgling book catalog company called Bas Bleu. Yes, I am the luckiest English major alive!

The temp agency had described the company as “a nice lady with a catalog,” and I remember thinking that sounded dreadfully bland. But then I met Eleanor Edmondson. Whip-smart, hilarious, business savvy, and extremely well read…my new boss was dazzling. And the company she had created was brilliant: a friendly neighborhood bookstore delivered to your mailbox!

In those days, the whole operation—the call center (three phones); the warehouse (a closet); the accounting department (Eleanor); the production department (also Eleanor); etc.—was run out of a single office. We all wore many hats. Eleanor took me under her wing and mentored me to grow along with the business. I even got to read and write as part of my job. It was all so thrilling!

And so we grew…expanding into an additional office space, then another, and then moving into an actual warehouse. We designed the office space within the warehouse to perfectly suit our needs. We hired more and more people, each one a fascinating character. Bas Bleu was really humming! From 1994 (when she founded the company) to 2007 (when she sold it to Universal Screen Arts), Eleanor was an extraordinary CEO, leading with kindness and generosity, hard work and high expectations, intelligence and grace.

All along the journey, Eleanor inspired us. When the Summer Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, Eleanor bought tickets enabling all of her employees to watch some events in person. When there was a fistfight in the warehouse, Eleanor ran back and restored the peace. Every Christmas Eleanor could be found in the warehouse pulling orders or packing boxes (and she was the best gift wrapper we had). Despite how busy she always was, Eleanor personally (and eloquently) responded to just about every single letter our customers wrote to us. She even hosted those of us without families in Atlanta for Thanksgiving on multiple occasions. I could go on for days about this incredible woman, and am so grateful to have learned from her and to still count her among my dearest friends!

I’m also enormously grateful to be nearing my twenty-fifth year with Bas Bleu. From clueless temp worker to seasoned Brand Manager…I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. I still feel Eleanor’s guidance in all my professional endeavors—appreciating our wonderful customers by providing top-rate service, writing honest copy that “sparkles” with good humor and a friendly tone, selecting a scintillating assortment of “odd little books” and inspired gifts for readers, mentoring (and learning from!) my incredibly talented staff and colleagues, building positive relationships with our publishers and other vendors, and making sure Bas Bleu stays profitable year after year so we can continue to commune with our lovely, bibliophilic customers.

Thank you, Eleanor. Thank you, Bas Bleu/Universal Screen Arts. And thank you, all you delightful bluestockings out there! (CH)

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18 thoughts on “A Mentor and A Friend

  1. Thank you Christie, Eleanor, and all the other Blue Stockings. I love reading your catalog. I don’t buy as often as I should (I do want you to keep going), but I read the review and order books from the library. I’ll try to do better about the buying. As I said, I do want you to keep going. You’ll see my name on orders more regularly.

    Bless you all!

      • Congratulations! on your 25 years at Bas Blue and thanks for this
        wonderful story of you and your mentor. Enjoy each catalog and order
        whenever I fine an interesting story. Have just received an order for
        3 books and the first I am reading in “Papa Goose”. What a delightful
        story, so glad you offered it,
        j.bright

  2. Thank you for sharing such a nice testimony! I am enjoying the walk down memory lane with each post and through your photos. Susan

  3. Love your catalog! Have enjoyed reading the reviews and learning about GREAT books I probably would not have found! Keep up the good work!

  4. I have been a vendor of yours for years and I couldn’t work with a nicer, more professional, easy-to-work with group than my Bas Bleu friends. Thanks for your kindness and support over the years. You are all a classy bunch in all aspects of what you do! Here’s to another 25 years!

  5. What a gift to have a mentor like that! Thanks so much for sharing this extraordinary relationship and your (CH) key role in making Bas Bleu the fabulous catalog that it is! Congratulations on 25 years!

  6. Bas Bleu is one of my very favorite catalogs – not only for myself, but for my family of equally eclectic (polite for oddball!) tastes. I love being asked where did I ever find just the absolutely perfect gift for a family member or good friend! And having endured several surgeries in the past couple of years, I have loved having books to recover with that entertained, inspired, and amused. Please keep up the great work, and that you so much for being who you are!

    • Terry, we’re sorry to hear you’ve been laid up, but we’re glad we were able to brighten up your recovery. Thank you for your encouragement and support; be well!

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