Tabatha Coffey and her new book, Own It: Be the Boss of Your Life — at Home and in the Workplace, have a few traits in common: They open up easily, they’ve got edge, and you know a whole lot more after an encounter with them.
Perhaps that’s why more than 100 customers lined up at the Barnes & Noble at Rowan University bookstore to greet the Australia-born icon, who took the store by storm with her chic platinum pixie and trademark black stilettos. “She’s a great guest,” says John Styles, manager of the store in Glassboro, New Jersey, which has been under Barnes & Noble College’s management since 2008. “She’s very engaging and jumps right in, taking questions, signing books, and posing for photos. We loved having her here — and so do our customers.”
Drawing on her years of hands-on experience as a hairstylist, as well as her business savvy and straight-shooting approach, Coffey travels the country helping struggling business owners turn around their lives and businesses on the fifth season of Bravo TV’s Tabatha Takes Over. During her bookstore appearance, Coffey fielded questions about hair, from products to problems, but she also entertained inquiries about handling business and professional challenges, including hiring and firing employees and having difficult conversations. “I love how blunt Tabatha is and how she doesn’t sugar-coat her comments,” reports Tori Converse, a graduating senior at Rowan University and student bookseller at the store. “I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and friendly she was, too, especially in light of her sometimes tough TV persona.”
Coffey’s visit was the second to the bookstore, drawing a crowd nearly two years ago — and inspiring the staff to dress in her trademark all-black, all-chic wardrobe in tribute. At that time, the bookstore had just moved into its new space on Rowan Boulevard, part of a $300 million revitalization project developed in public/private partnership between the Borough of Glassboro, private developers, and Rowan University. The 36,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble superstore and Starbucks Café now serves the students and faculty of Rowan University as well as attracting a following from outside the college community with its easy parking and access from the major thoroughfare.
“We may be a college superstore, but we offer quite a bit for the entire community,” says Styles. “We offer children’s events, such as arts and crafts, book readings, and a summer reading program as well.” The bookstore frequently hosts high-profile authors, including comedian Bill Cosby, football player Gary Brackett, and Jersey Shore’s Snooki.
Coffey, the most recent celebrity author, stayed after the crowd left to answer a few more questions from the staff. “I asked her how best to shampoo my type of hair [use tepid water and conditioner from the ears down only], and what’s my best hair color [lighter chestnut],” recalls Michelle Falcone, a graduating senior at Rowan University studying education, who snapped photos of customers with Coffey. “I watch her show with my mom and sister, so it was really exciting to meet her in person. It was a great event.”