Meet the Team
We know promotional products are about more than adding a logo. They’re an expression of your brand and, when done correctly, a great way to build recognition and loyalty. They can reinforce a marketing campaign, drive your prospects to trade shows and help keep your employees engaged.
Our team gets it. We’ll work tirelessly to solve your biggest challenges on time and on budget. And you can rest assured we’ll always keep your brand personality in mind.
Mary Wickstrom, President and Chief Idea Officer
The founder of Merch Detective, Mary is tenacious about the details and, in the words of fashion icon Tim Gunn, likes to “Make It Work.”
Mary launched Merch Detective after 20 years in marketing, branding and packaging design for leading agencies and brands in the Twin Cities. It’s the perfect role for someone who earned a degree in apparel design yet scored highest for investigative journalist and librarian career interest surveys. In retrospect, Mary realizes, that survey translates well to what she does now: “researching details and tracking down whatever our clients are looking for.” Of course, in true Mary style, that process includes a keen attention to design too.
When asked about her biggest challenge so far, Mary recalls importing thousands of LEGO pieces from Europe and kitting them into custom-manufactured Chinese take-out style containers. Like always, it’s a challenge she approached with great enthusiasm – and one she solved with outstanding collaboration and attention to detail.
Brenda Shutes, Client Service Associate
While earning a degree in psychology and art, Brenda never imagined a career at Merch Detective. Yet she quickly discovered it’s the perfect fit for a woman who loves a good treasure hunt, and she says nothing gives her greater joy than finding the perfect gift for someone.
Brenda admits, “I have a hard time finding things for myself because I’m so particular, and I can honestly spend hours – countless hours, embarrassing numbers of hours – looking for the one perfect thing that meets all my criteria.” That drive to find just the right item extends to her clients as well, making her an exceptional partner for designers and marketing managers alike. Our clients love her.
When Brenda isn’t working hard to uncover the perfect promotional product, she’s busy with her family, often volunteering at school plays or shuttling her kids to swimming and archery. She also enjoys walking her dog, cooking, painting and dreaming about her next trip to Costa Rica.
Krista Manske, Production Manager
After earning a degree in communication and film, Krista moved to Los Angeles and began a career working on commercials, music videos and TV. While her time as a production manager and producer might seem a world away from her current job, one listen to her sourcing stories – such as finding someone to lend America’s Most Wanted a Rolls-Royce for free in just hours – shows she’s been preparing for her Merch Detective role for years.
Positive, upbeat and creative, Krista has been known to pull off miracles and surprise pessimists. She never accepts no for an answer and considers extreme challenges “impasses that can be surmounted rather than entrenched roadblocks.” She enjoys meeting new people and fulfilling their creative visions.
When Krista isn’t at work, you can catch her – or at least try to – on the race track with her Porsche 928, the dream car she fell in love with at age eight and bought, exactly as she had planned, at age 25. She loves the roar of a powerful engine and has raced at Buttonwillow Raceway, Las Vegas International Speedway and Laguna Seca Raceway, among others.
HALO Branded Solutions, Back Office
We rely on and work closely with members of the HALO support team headquartered at a 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art distribution and processing center in Sterling, Illinois. HALO’s corporate staff of 300, with decades of industry knowledge and expertise, allows Merch Detective to provide more comprehensive solutions and deliver personalized client service.