20 Under 40: Jacki Harp

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Jacki Harp poses at her home on Thursday, June 4, 2020 in Hixson, Tenn.
Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Jacki Harp poses at her home on Thursday, June 4, 2020 in Hixson, Tenn.

Jacqueline (Jacki) Harp, 37

Store manager, REI Chattanooga; Board member, Lookout Mountain Conservancy; Tennessee Naturalist; Mom

Mantra: #besofter

Quarantine projects: I told myself I would get my summer garden planted, which I did actually accomplish. I didn't set many other goals because I continued to be hopeful that the quarantine wouldn't last very long. As it ... and our distancing precautions continue, I have set new goals around exercise, nature connection and finding moments to enjoy my kids.

What's something you can't have in your house? I love maps, photography and art, so I always want to fill every inch of blank wall space. It feels like a huge act of discipline to leave a wall blank when I am decorating. I also prohibit paper towels and bottled water in the house. I am teased constantly for this, but this feels like waste I can cut out, and I think those little efforts matter.

What's your goal professionally? I have always wanted to introduce REI to my hometown. That has been my professional goal for over a decade. Now my focus has shifted a bit, and I am investing more time and headspace toward supporting improved access to the outdoors and environmental education. It is puzzling to me that we sent people into space but most people cannot identify the thing growing beneath their feet. I'd like to shift that.

What's one thing about Chattanooga you'd change? Public transit!

One thing you wish you'd known at the start of your career? Employment is a relationship. There can be years that are amazing and years that are very challenging. Just because something is amazing doesn't mean it's the job you should do forever, and just because you're having a challenging season doesn't mean that it's time to move on to the next job. I have stayed in jobs that I had outgrown because I was having so much fun, and left jobs too early because the work was hard. Now, I stay a little more curious. When you're doing something you love, you're willing to nurture that relationship when things are difficult and really enjoy those great seasons.

What motivates you? My family, first and foremost. My children are an absolute light, and I love being in Chattanooga with my extended family. I am also constantly chasing still moments. I will work for days to guarantee that I can have one day that I can be outside without interruption.

One thing you couldn't live without? Mason jars. I love their aesthetic and practicality. We have a regular rotation of pickled things, jams, marmalade, etc., in the fridge. They remind me that I am home in the South.

Upcoming Events