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A Word From The Team

Tuesday March 13, 2018

A Word From The Team

When I first started Our Heiday, I knew that finding and investing in the right people was going to be the most rewarding, challenging, and necessary part of making this thing sail. Growing up with my mom running a vibrant wholesale business in downtown LA shaped so much of how I wanted this company to grow. She has had some employees with her for almost 30 years (for me, an absolute yes), but the company is so dependent on her presence to run (for me, an absolute no). The gift of watching your immigrant mother who learned to speak English when she first came to the US (and Spanish as she continued to work with her team) run a successful business that allows her to be creative and savvy is something I don't take lightly. There are many things I've taken away from this internalization of a strong, warm, and incredibly giving boss lady of a mama that has very much informed how we run things here.

We've received so many questions and thoughts about hiring - how to start, how to find the right people, how to grow your team - and it is an art that we're still learning how to make right. It hasn't been easy and often times incredibly time consuming, but we are now a team of 7 fully-committed, vibrant members with one more fulfillment assistant hire in process. I asked our team to share a bit about why they decided to leave former positions to start their careers with us because their personal voice offers a different, on-the-ground perspective on what it means to work for a company you love. This was not a pat-ourselves-on-the-back exercise. We asked them these questions because countless iterations and 500+ hours spent on hiring, decision making, contract sending, contract making later, we've landed on a group of women I'm so proud to call our core team. 

From founder to founder (creative business owners, I'm looking at you!), I know this decision is tough. The limited cash flow you have at the start seems impossible to hand off to another person. But in order for your company to grow, your team will have to grow. Every hire we've invested in has only helped our revenue to multiply and the ones who haven't worked out have taught me invaluable lessons about how I can be better, what I need to look for, and why a solid company cultural fit matters more than anything. A few set takeaways about hiring in general from me, then I'd love to introduce you to the wonderfully talented women on our team. It's going to be a long one, but so worthwhile. Enjoy! 

(missing Donna, who's currently away on maternity leave)

A Note From Pat About Hiring, Finding The Right Ones.

1. Start small.

If you're a product-based company, hire one person, a set of hands to help get those orders out the door. The faster you fulfill, the more your customers can rely on you to get their orders to them efficiently and accurately. This will free up your time to focus on what you do best, and the growth will inevitably swell. We made the mistake of hoping that every fulfillment assistant would want to stay with us forever and ever, but this is a mismatch of expectations all around. In the beginning, you only need hands and someone you trust.

2. Pay yourself last and offer your version of benefits.

This may seem obvious, but it's a deceivingly simple statement. At the start of any startup, you feel like you're in a casino-like box (when does the sun rise and set??) of an endless hustle and and if you're not making any money, what's the point? I'd encourage you to keep a long-term perspective and figure out how you can make the financials work. Live with your parents, or if you're married, talk to your spouse about how long a low-income or no-income lifestyle is sustainable. Full disclosure, we have never taken any capital or loans from anybody, but if you're running the type of creative company where huge investments from the beginning are necessary, then yes, speaking to the bank may be a good idea. Whatever position you're in, you take what's left over, if there's anything at all. I have always made the least amount of money in our company and while we're still in our infancy, it's been such a necessary decision.

We also take rest seriously and write that into our contracts. In this culture of go go go, it's so easy to delude ourselves into thinking this is the life we want. Our goal is to be able to offer healthcare to our team at some point, but currently, we extend to our salaried employees 7 paid holidays throughout the year, a week of paid time off before Christmas and into the new year, one week of paid vacation, 3 sick days, and 2 personal days. This is something we commit to, no matter how busy the days seem, because it's a cultural position we're taking. And when a potential hire understands that we value their personal life outside their work life, we've found it makes all the difference.

3. Don't rely on resumes, look at the heart.

I mean, look at the resumes. Require them. There are some things that only experience would ever be able to teach. But don't rely on them to make your decisions. Our shipping manager, Angie, has had no experience in a shipping department and has learned on the job, but she has a heart of gold and an innate humility that is rare to come across. Our investment in her growth has been worth everything. Only you know the kind of company culture you want to cultivate. Find the ones who have the heart to fit that.

A Note From Angie - Shipping Manager.

Why did you decide to leave whatever you were doing previously to work with us?

I left both of my jobs for the same reason, I wanted more challenges and to work more so behind a company, focusing on how it runs, rather than its front-facing customer service department. I was not moving up at my main job at a large corporation, where I left after 7 years, although I would constantly be told I would. I spent very little time in what I actually wanted to do, such as price management or other behind-the-scenes projects. Yes, customer service was a great experience and it helped me grow tough skin, but after a while I felt that parts of my day were dealing with irate customers with issues that were beyond my control. I had no issue going above and beyond for a customer, but the appreciation and acknowledgement from management was not always there. Our Heiday was a complete 360 and it was a new environment for me. Stationery was also new to me, but I fell in love in with it and the fast pace of the company. 

What advice would you give to someone looking for a position in a company like ours?

Be alert, efficient, and go in with confidence. Be open to learning new systems (like how the back end of a company runs) and if it matters to you, voice your desires to grow. I came in as a packaging assistant and had open communication with Donna and Pat about how I wanted to grow beyond my role. 

What advice would you give to owners to help them find invested people like you?

Look out for the eagerness of the person, how they take criticism (because I feel like you can never stop improving), and how they work with others.

A Note From Carol - Fulfillment Assistant.

Why did you decide to leave whatever you were doing previously to work with us?

Aside from my continuous love for stationery and gifts being a huge factor in my decision, I ultimately decided to work for Our Heiday because I wanted the chance to do something meaningful that directly contributes towards the company’s growth and successes. I joined Our Heiday with the understanding that working for a small company entails unique challenges, situations in wearing different hats, and opportunities of personal growth alongside the company’s. I genuinely believe in the effectiveness of a workplace environment where every team member has a role to play and is valued, and it was transparent to me that Our Heiday certainly embraces and provides for that ideal.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a position in a company like ours?

I would encourage him/her to stay enthusiastic in their passions and always be willing to adapt and learn.

What advice would you give to owners to help them find invested people like you?

It might make a difference to look beyond the first impression—give second chances to the seemingly awkward/quiet ones who flub on their initial interviews out of sheer excitement and/or nervousness, but whose actions may prove louder than words, and may show promise and dedication.

A Note from Hyeyoon - Graphic Designer.

Why did you decide to leave whatever you were doing previously to work with us?

Our Heiday was a company I always admired. I used to work at a stationery store and on our slower days, we researched the stationery companies that were carried in the shop. Even though I didn't know Pat and Donna personally, I felt like I could connect to them, being an Asian American woman myself. I always ended up on Our Heiday's blog because it was so raw and heartfelt. I worked at a few design companies before starting here, but this is one of the main reasons why I kept coming back. Our Heiday seemed like it was run by such honest and warm ladies. After working here and now looking back, I can confidently say the company is exactly how it seems on the outside. Warm, driven, and very much filled with love. 

What advice would you give to someone looking for a position in a company like ours?

Don't settle! I know a handful of designers/creatives that are itching to work for a company that they admire, but are worried to leave their job because it may pay more or they are comfortable at a current job even though it may not be satisfying. If you can financially (often times small businesses don't offer the same benefits and healthcare options as you would find elsewhere), I would encourage you to take the risk. In the long run, it will be so worth it when you are in a work environment where you can enjoy going to work every day. You will be happier and you will be a better employee because you're doing what you love.

What advice would you give to owners to help them find invested people like you?

Hire the ones that go above and beyond. If they visit a pop-up you're having, or comment on your Instagram posts, (most of the time) it means they are already invested in the company. Don't forget those brave souls! I introduced myself to Pat and Donna when they were at Unique LA and was fangirling the whole time. We later met at the National Stationery Show and connected again. Two months later, I began my role here.

A Note From Sara - Studio and Accounts Manager.

Why did you decide to leave whatever you were doing previously to work with us?

Whether a small business is designing beautiful stationery, manufacturing leather handbags, or maybe coming up with new recipes for a Sunday brunch cafe, the team will be unable to work cohesively together unless they agree about what they want their company to do or say, and what they want to contribute to the world. It's for this reason that I decided to leave what I was doing previously to be a part of Our Heiday. Finding a team that feels similarly as I do about creating a product of so much value that is truly meaningful to people, was and is so important to me. Every person on this team is in the business of being thoughtful and kind and believes that life is about the small gestures, like hand writing a note in a beautiful card, to show someone you care. It's important to us that we are genuinely interested in each others' lives - how we grow, the challenges we face, and the new chapters that we encounter. We support our individual success and happiness in and out of the office and know that it is the only way the company as a whole will be successful.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a position in a company like ours?

Don't hide and be proactive. Small business is simultaneously the most challenging and the most rewarding venture I think anyone can choose to pursue.  Building new systems essentially from scratch and determining best practices is a constant gamble, requiring troubleshooting nearly every day to address entirely unexpected problems and quickly come up with solutions.  Witnessing every aspect of a company running at the same time from creative, to logistics, to production, to operations, to bookkeeping, is so inspiring when I think that every huge corporation started exactly the same way - with one person having an idea that they were courageous enough to share, and then a few people worked together to make it a reality. There is absolutely no room to hide in a small company, and it's not for everyone. No matter what a person's role is, everyone is working so closely together, all the time, and each person has so much responsibility to keep things going.

What advice would you give to owners to help them find invested people like you?

It has been key for me personally, to find a work environment that so wonderfully contributes to my fulfillment and well-being, in and out of the office. Taking the time to find the right fit, for employees and for owners, will result in people who truly love their jobs. Equally as important, is that employees can trust their supervisors and know they will be supported in their roles, and know that they can and should have open communication about any issues or concerns that arise. It is also so rewarding and empowering as an employee to know that my bosses have confidence in me to effectively do my job and that they trust me with it - this will only inspire me to want to contribute in more meaningful ways. At the end of the day, I feel so proud of what this company does. I am proud of the message it gives to the world, I am proud of what is created here, I am proud of how we believe in each other, I am proud of how gracefully we tackle stressful situations, and I am proud of how we interact with each other and with every person we encounter. I genuinely look forward to coming into work every day and making tangible contributions while watching this beautiful thing grow. This has made all the difference. 

A Note From Sarah Anne - Junior Designer.

Why did you decide to leave whatever you were doing previously to work with us?

In my decision to join the Our Heiday team, I thought through three big things that excited me about working for them. The first was falling in love with the products and every piece that Our Heiday was creating. With every new release online and in store, there was purpose, attention to detail, and intentionality that reflected the company's culture and values. I loved the excitement when new products came out and wanted to be able to produce the same kind of work with the same quality in my own practice. You should work for a company that produces work that you aspire to create and I feel like Our Heiday was that for me.

The second reason for my transition to a new job was seeing the company culture - how joyful and kind everyone in the studio was. The people you work with make a huge difference and when you love and enjoy your team, you fall even more in love with going to work everyday and creating beautiful content. Your team becomes your family and it makes a huge difference to have close friendships and good vibes all around. When I first started working here, I was immediately welcomed in, encouraged to speak up and voice my opinions, and felt valued and appreciated. I couldn't ask for a better team and enjoyable work environment.

And lastly I joined Our Heiday because I enjoy working in a small team and being able to be hands on in every aspect. I love being able to work one day in design, but also give an extra hand with packaging when needed. You are not limited to your role and having an attitude that is flexible and positive is huge to help improve the overall company. I enjoy learning new things and taking on new tasks that may be outside my comfort zone. You get to be part of every step and see all the behind the scenes work that you wouldn't be able to in a larger company. It is exciting to see what everyone is working on and to collaborate with team members who have different responsibilities in the company.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a position in a company like ours?

Develop an attitude that is willing to try and learn new things. Have a strong work ethic, be open and willing to be flexible and change up your schedule/routine. Most importantly have a positive and thankful attitude everyday. These things will make a huge difference and directly contribute to the growth of a company.

What advice would you give to owners to help them find invested people like you?

When I was on the side of looking to be hired, I really cared about investing/joining a job where I could be long term and could see myself contributing to the team. It's important that you know your contributions will be valued. When I first started working at Our Heiday, my team encouraged me to speak up and bring my skills and knowledge to the table. Not only did I get to work on projects that really excited me and stretched my skill set, but I also got to work with people who were patient and gracious during my training period. This made a huge difference for me and makes me very excited to continue working here!

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cheers from all of us,
pat



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