About

Karen is a product manager based in Los Angeles with a strong background in the entertainment industry. She is passionate about analyzing workflows, identifying pain points, and solving them with improved user experience and design, placing a special emphasis on equity and accessibility.

In her spare time, Karen manages the branding and is a part-time editor of her husband's popular kid's podcast What If World (occasionally appearing as a guest). She previously ran the small business Mallow & Hop, providing gourmet marshmallows with unique flavors to California foodies.

Philosophy

I don't let anything be harder than it has to be.

When we started the What If World Patreon page in 2018, one of the benefits we wanted to offer was a note with a personalized "What If" question sent in the mail with a small gift every 3 months. But Eric was in a terrible car accident in 2016 that shattered his right wrist and has made certain activities - like writing by hand - difficult and painful. Though it was manageable for a short while, eventually our fanbase grew and we were sending out over 100 hand written cards every month. It took many hours across multiple days and left him in agony every time.
I knew it didn't have to be that way.

I sent Eric to Calligraphr to create a font out of his handwriting. I had him start listing the kid's names as the "Note" on Patreon. And I built the What If Question Generator using base code by Orteil. Soon, we were exporting a google spreadsheet with every kid's name and address, using formulas to slot their names into automatically generated "What If" questions, and setting them to print out on neon cards using the Mr. Eric font.
Shh, don't tell the kids.

There's nothing I can't figure out with a good search engine and a little trial and error.

At Casting Networks, the age information for talent profiles and roles is stored in months instead of years. But when looking at data, it's not helpful for me to see spread of minimum ages on a role with numbers like "216", "300", and "480" - my stakeholders don't expect to divide every number on a graph by 12. It took a few minutes, but with the help of this Sisense Help Article and maybe 20 different attempts at figuring out the right code, I had it displaying "18", "25", and "40".

I find and address the cause, not the symptom.

As a product manager, I hear a lot of requests like "Can we have a button there that does this?" Sometimes your customer has landed on the exact right solution! But often, they're just putting a band-aid on their issue. What are they trying to do? Is it a common workflow? Once I know that, I can determine whether it can be solved in a more efficient or more effective way.

Done is better than perfect.

I can always do another draft. Get something onto paper, then get feedback. The first iteration of this website (you're currently looking at it) was done in less than a week. (And I couldn't do CSS at the beginning of that week!)

Portfolio

Casting Networks is a leading B2B and B2C software company facilitating the casting process for over 1 million users worldwide. I led an international team of designers and engineers in a replatforming effort to provide an improved set of SaaS tools for casting directors globally.

For access to my portfolio regarding my work on the development of the new Casting Networks, please send an email to hello@karenokeeffe.com.

Presenting to the company in Los Angeles.
Presenting to the company in Los Angeles.
Meeting with users in New York.
Meeting with users in New York.
Presenting to clients in Chicago.
Presenting to clients in Chicago.
The product & UX team for the new platform.
The product & UX team for the new platform.
Meeting with clients in Atlanta.
Meeting with clients in Atlanta.
We did not escape the room.
We did not escape the room.

What If World is the world’s #1 independent podcast for kids with 800,000 downloads / month across platforms, mentions in the New York Times and Washington Post, and distribution deals with Amazon, Portland Public Radio and more.

Logo

What If World's logo was sketched by Jason O'Keefe. I scanned the art he sent us, traced it with a tablet to ensure clean lines, then made two variations with different color schemes: one to represent the podcast on Apple Podcasts and other RSS feeds, and the other to become the basis for the Squarespace site and merchandise.

Original sketched logo by Jason O'Keefe
Original sketched logo by Jason O'Keefe.
Apple Podcasts Logo
Apple Podcasts Logo.

Sound Design

When he first had the idea for the show Eric went into the hall closet and recorded a 15 minute story - "What if I had 101 best friends?" The sound quality was poor and the pacing was slow and he was heartbroken. I took the raw audio and added some melancholy piano, some waves, some seagulls, and a jaunty but soothing song under the introduction and the rest is history. I edited the first 100 or so episodes of the show before teaching Eric to do it himself... but I still pop in and help out every so often.
We now use Storyblocks for all our sound effects and music.

Merchandising

The amazing artist Ana Stretcu does our character design. From her work, I create merchandise to send out with our Patreon mailings, as well as to be printed on demand at our Threadless storefront.

Karen and Eric in their early What If World t-shirts,
Karen and Eric in their early What If World t-shirts.
Yellow Chthunkle backpack available on Threadless
Yellow Chthunkle backpack available on Threadless.
Temporary Tattoos made with Ana Stretcu's art, modeled by my son Callum
Temporary Tattoos made with Ana Stretcu's art, modeled by my son Callum.
What If World mask, taken by a socially distanced friend.
What If World mask, taken by a socially distanced friend.
Iron on patch made of Dracomax.
Iron on patch made of Dracomax.
Sherpa blanket from Threadless.
Sherpa blanket from Threadless.
Enamel pin of Fred the Dog.
Enamel pin of Fred the Dog.
Who run the world? Girls! Available on Threadless.
Who run the world? Girls! Available on Threadless.

In the summer of 2015 I got it into my head that I wanted to start a cottage food business out of my tiny North Hollywood one bedroom apartment. I had been making marshmallows with interesting flavors (cherry beer, apricot IPA, passion fruit, strawberry lemonade) for a while, and my friends' sweet tooth couldn't keep up with my output. So why not sell them?

Mallow & Hop was a one man operation. (Ok, Eric helped sometimes.) Besides making and packaging the marshmallows, I handled branding, photography, social media and everything else that comes with running a small business in the state of California.

The goal with branding and package design was to mimic high-end artisanal goods with the limited (ahem, monetary) resources on hand and the restrictions put in place by the cottage food law.

Because I did everything myself and printed out labels as needed, I went through a lot of iterations of packaging - testing out what worked, and what could be done cheaper and more effectively - which you can see below.

Coffee and oreo marshmallow covered in milk chocolate.
Coffee & oreo marshmallow covered in milk chocolate.
Vanilla - the Classic. Updated packaging.
Vanilla - the Classic. Updated packaging.
hard candy made with citra hops
Hard candy made with citra hops.
Gift boxes.
Gift box sets.
At artisanal LA in a branded dress
At Artisanal LA with a branded dress.
Strawberry Lemonade Marshmallows
Original Strawberry Lemonade marshmallow packaging.
Wasabi Pea Brittle - great with blue cheese
Wasabi Pea Brittle - great with blue cheese!
Lemon Meringue Pie bar with lemon marshmallow, white chocolate ganache and pie crust
Lemon Meringue Pie bar with lemon marshmallow, white chocolate ganache and pie crust.
Birthday cake marshmallows with frosting and sprinkles
Birthday cake marshmallows with 'frosting' and sprinkles.
Original Candy Bar packaging.
Original candy bar packaging, revised in 2017.
seasonal Gingerbread marshmallow
Gingerbread marshmallow made with molasses and spices.
Original Cabernet marshmallow packaging.
Original Cabernet marshmallow packaging, revised in 2017.

For more you can visit the old Mallow & Hop Instagram.

Videography

I lived in NYC from 2007-2014 because I loved and wanted to work on Broadway. Somehow I fell into the best side gig of all: getting paid to film cabarets and concerts put on by members of the theatre scene. Here's a couple:

My friend Shoshana at Famous in NY is the best person to go to if you need videography services in New York.

Video Editing

I also worked on a fair number of editing projects, largely for Kickstarter campaigns and the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Graphic Design

Can you call it graphic design if it's just taking the skills you learned making LiveJournal icons in 2001 and applying it to stolen artwork for non-profit and student organizations? I hope so.

A Bob's Burgers themed party favor for my friend Casey.
A Bob's Burgers themed party favor for my friend Casey. From 2015 but I wanted to include it!
The postcard for the New York Musical Theatre festival show Twilight in Manchego (Back)
The postcard for the New York Musical Theatre festival show Twilight in Manchego (Back), 2008.
Films calendar from UC Berkeley, 2007.
Films calendar from UC Berkeley, 2007.
Concerts calendar from UC Berkeley, 2007.
Concerts calendar from UC Berkeley, 2007.

Miscellaneous

My husband's name before we were married was O'Keefe. I wasn't attached to my maiden name, he was to his, we wanted to have the same name for ease with kids, but I categorically refused to just take his name (and spare him the pain of all of the paperwork). As a joke I threw out "What if we just do O'Keeffe and I say I actually took Georgia O'Keeffe's name?" And we did.

From 2015-2018 I entered 3 yearly pies into the KCRW Good Food Pie baking content, and never even placed. Miso Peach is my signature pie.

When I get the chance I love to climb (indoors) but I could never really do much better than a V3 bouldering or a 5.8 top-roping.

My favorite TV shows of all time are Frasier, Parks & Recreation and Avatar: The Last Airbender. My favorite movies of all time are Stardust, Bachelor Mother (1939), A Goofy Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol. My favorite song is (probably) Paradise by the Dashboard Light but my theme song is I Go to the Zoo. My favorite band is Jukebox the Ghost.

Fred the Dog from What If World is based on our real dog, Fred, who was adopted in 2010. His tongue really does stick out and he really does love eating sticks. We also have a dog named Ginger, a cat named Otis, and two sons.