The Team

Tom Johnson: Founder, President & CEO, Ruby Lane, Inc.

As Founder, President and CEO of the Ruby Lane Group, Tom is responsible for the overall management, interface and design. His career in technology spans over 33 years, starting with a position at IBM in their high-end computer graphics division in Kingston, NY. Three years later, he served as the Technical Liaison at IBM Japan in Tokyo where he dramatically streamlined the customer service procedure and problem solving process, shortening the timeline from 18 months to only a few weeks. During his six years in Japan, Tom worked closely, on-site, with clients such as Nissan, Sony, Toyota, and Honda followed by work in Germany, London, and Detroit on the Ford account for IBM.

The impetus for establishing a website catering to the antiques and collectibles world grew out of Tom’s love of 1950s California Pottery, many pieces of which were acquired via the web. Combining his passion for antiques and collectibles with his high-tech background, Tom created Ruby Lane in 1998 and named the site in honor of his mother Ruby.

Tom graduated with top honors from the University of Minnesota, with a B.S. in Computer Science, with a Minor degree in Mathematics and Music. When he is not busy collecting 50's pottery and art, he splits his time between New York City and Naples, FL.

Joel Roberts: Chief Technology Officer

Joel is responsible for IT, technical operations, and the development of the Ruby Lane website. He started his career in high traffic web server systems during the booming Internet Service Provider business of the 1990s.

In the late 90s, Joel transitioned from Los Angeles to San Francisco where he served in a variety of technical roles at a medical device start-up. After the company was acquired by Boston Scientific, he took a year off to travel as well as to further explore his passion for computers. Joel returned to work as the System and Network Manager at Menlo School, a prestigious college-preparatory school located in Silicon Valley where he oversaw all technology related to rebuilding the upper school campus. This included a comprehensive network overhaul, the installation of a new campus-wide telephone system, and the establishment of a proper data center for the increasingly demanding needs of evolving wired and wireless classrooms. Additional vacation time given in an educational environment allowed him the opportunity to take his travel pursuits even further. Joel currently maintains a secondary home in the Philippines.

Gisele Barrau-Freeman: Chief Marketing Officer

Gisele joined the team as Chief Marketing Officer and is responsible for overseeing marketing and sales initiatives while developing new strategies and revenue streams.

Hired by 1stdibs 8 years ago to help build it into the luxury website and brand it is today, she served as Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Director of Advertising and Director of Estates who consistently brought in a significant percentage of total revenue. In parallel, she also worked from the start on the build-up of another successful platform for manufactured home designs (Design Center Search) that became Architectural Digest’s online product search (ShopAD). Having previously managed several European manufacturers’ subsidiaries, Gisele has a unique perspective and deep knowledge of all aspects of the design industry.

Gisele has a PhD from Princeton University and is an avid collector of decorative ashtrays ranging from Ruinart to Daum and old leather-bound editions of French and English classics.

Palmer Pekarek-Greer: Senior Vice President of Operations

Palmer is responsible for Ruby Lane's communications, new business development, and operations. He is recognized for his talents in synergizing communications and marketing strategies in the management of corporate brands.

His media expertise and online communications ability have been integral in the successful branding and rebranding of several non-profit organizations and for-profit companies over the past two decades.

Palmer has a B.A. in Journalism/Public Relations, a B.S. in Business/Marketing, a M.S. in Communications Management, all from Colorado State University, an M.P.A. in State and Local Government from the University of Colorado.

He collects vintage Louis Vuitton, Mid-Century Modern furniture and has a deep passion for Art Deco furniture and decor.

Rob Spear: Senior Vice President of Customer Support

Rob is responsible for the ongoing management of Ruby Lane's customer support specialists and shop reviewers who do a great job of helping Ruby Lane's shop owners and visitors with questions about the site.

He attended William Paterson College, with a major in Computer Science. In addition to solid technical skills, he has many years of experience in high-level customer support and project management roles in the financial sector.

In 2001 Rob decided to focus on his family's antique & vintage lighting business and in 2007 became a Ruby Lane shop owner.  His knowledge and understanding of Antique and Vintage Lighting adds another perspective to the Ruby Lane Customer Support Team.

Zenna Inness: Customer Support Specialist

A Ruby Lane shop owner since 2000, Zenna joined Ruby Lane's Customer Support team in 2003.

With nearly 30 years experience in the antiques and collectibles trade and significant research and technical skills, she assists a skilled shop review team in vetting the site for authenticity and factual presentation. Zenna maintains a special understanding of the online marketplace and is dedicated to helping Ruby Lane meet its goal of providing a pleasant shopping experience.

An independent appraiser since 1996, she is a collector of early photographica and first edition books.

Experienced, Professional Customer Support Team

Ruby Lane's well-honed team of highly-skilled Customer Support Representatives is made up of seasoned industry professionals, many with years of online sales experience -- something you won't find on every site. Many members of the Ruby Lane staff, including its Customer Support team, are artists or collectors themselves and currently, or have previously maintained shops on Ruby Lane.  This allows them to understand the many needs of both buyers and sellers, as well as the unique categories of items being sold. Our team provides real customer support solutions, based on first hand experience.  The Ruby Lane team members are not all U.S.- based.  The sites global workforce provides a unique understanding of the needs of the international online community.