Work and Home

Fox Apartment

Just a quick example of how Room & Board has affected my life outside of work… This past weekend we were having a few friends over for dinner. Of course, that meant tidying up our apartment beforehand! Since everything looked nice and clean, I snapped a picture of our living and dining room and posted it to Facebook.

A couple of coworkers commented on it, and I then realized that there were a lot of items in this picture that were purchased from Room & Board since I’ve been working here. For example: the dining table and chairs, the rug, the accent chair, a couple of the picture frames. In those rooms, but not easily seen, are our media cabinet, side tables, cocktail table, and floor lamp.

When I think back to what our apartment looked a few years ago, it was much emptier and not nearly as cozy. Not only has Room & Board been a great place to work, it has also made our apartment a home!

The Showroom Phone Shift

I am sitting in a comfortable back room of our Showroom manning my 1st telephone shift. We realized that if we have someone answering phones all day that this could alleviate stress from co-workers with customers on the Showroom floor. So far, I have been busy answering a lot of questions related to our product. Being in the backroom I feel pretty open to conversation that can be pretty in-depth. When we are on the phone on the floor we sometimes feel a little rushed and stressed knowing there are customers who need us there.

As Design Associates, we take care of services related to issues that may come up for customers with our product. I have fielded those calls while doing the phone shift. If I have time, there are a multitude of things I can take care of catching up on. I can catch up on following up on delivered orders, e-mail and personal education on new product. Some days are busier than others and I suspect I will be fairly busy all day.

Doing this also makes me aware of what our co-workers at Shop From Home do in their everyday job. It creates a heightened appreciation of how they spend their time. Overall, I think this was a brilliant solution for our Retail stores. Our telephone customers are very important to us and this will allow them to get our undivided attention.

You have not reached a recording…

It happens every so often, probably once a week. Even so, it catches me a little by surprise every time and (honestly) amuses me.

It’s the response to my telephone greeting.

”Are you a computer?” or “Is this a person?” or “Hello? Is this a recording?”

My true favorite? “Are you a human?”

At Shop From Home, both sides of the brain get a workout. We need to simultaneously be able to compute an entire room’s worth of furniture dimensions and create that space to reflect the customer’s personality and vibe. We take the time with each person to empathize and problem-solve, but we also run reports in our heads to make sure we are meeting their needs while preserving the health of the business. Because we are autonomous in our roles, we must be knowledgeable in the black and white fundamentals of our company (numbers, numbers, numbers). And, at the same time, we are only great in our roles if we can connect personally, be creative, and communicate through descriptive but concise language.

Efficiency is a necessary trait, but so is inventiveness and the ability to meaningfully engage.

When you reach us at Shop From Home, you won’t get a computer, but you will get a human machine.

Celebrating our New Collection

Now that we have pretty much finished our Floor Change we formally presented the New Collection to our customers this past weekend. It is truly a celebration for the whole company as there is not anyone amongst us who has not contributed to the final result.

In Edina, we created “departments” on our lower level where we have a larger office area, the sleeper room, stools and kitchen islands, kids and an expanded baby area and window treatments. Our lower level has always had less traffic but with this change we are helping a lot more people downstairs. We have to be so much more aware of who needs our help.

So, this weekend we showed off our showroom with refreshments and a drawing for a Room & Board gift card. The weather was milder, which brought in more traffic.

New Year, New Product

Easton

Our floor change was a few weeks ago and we’ve still been busy in our showroom ever since. Our Visual Associate has been working with her team to get accessories layered into room settings. I’ve been partnering with our Inventory Associate to plan when items that were delayed will arrive on transfers, and to manage the few changes here and there we’ve made to items being shown. There are only a few more items that we are waiting for at this point, none of which are critical to being able to show off our new 2015 collection.

This is the time of year when all the hard work we’ve put into planning and executing our floor change pays off. The showroom looks and feels great! Our team has been really excited about the new product, and also they are loving how everything came together. One of the rooms they especially love is our Easton Sofa in Rhodes Grey paired with a Boden Chair in Vick Haze and and Aero Cocktail Ottoman (shown above). The cowhides on the floor really help to give it a cozy feel.

From a Merchant perspective, our sales also are looking good. Total numbers are up from last year and we’ve already had customers purchase some of the new items for 2015. For instance, there were four new upholstery collections introduced (Sala, Macalester, Lamour, and Alessa) and our store has sold at least one of each of these so far.

Overall, I feel lucky to be in this place right now. It is great to feel accomplished and to get positive feedback from our Design Associates and our customers. What a great way to start the year off, I’m thankful to be part of such a wonderful team of people!

Jack of All Trades

Jack of all trades. That’s the catchphrase that I usually attribute to myself. I have a lot of interests that have taken me in many life directions both personally and professionally. My first undergraduate degree was in Music Education. My first job upon graduating was administering hedonic taste panels on fully cooked chicken nuggets, tenders and cutlets for Perdue Foods. Not the normal career path for a music teacher, but the opportunity was an interesting one.

I did end up teaching elementary music for several years, but I also worked as a full time volunteer acting as a residential treatment counselor for troubled youth in Alaska, did long term subbing in Phoenix middle schools, worked as a music camp counselor on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, directed several church choirs, worked in an antique store on weekends and was a resource leader for the National Trust’s Main Street Program.

I ended up going back to school for a second undergrad – this time with a BFA in Interior Design and a minor in Art History. Throw ballroom dancing in there (I taught some basics), and custom framing and you can see I have a lot of varied experiences.

The point of all this is that I often struggled with how to present myself in the business world. I really am the sum of my parts, but to put all those things on my resume never felt like the best idea. Most employers want bullet points. With Room & Board, I got to talk about all these things at the interview. I was able to weave the tapestry of my varied work/life experiences and how they continue to inform what I do and the finesse with which I do it. I think it helped get me the job. It seems that I’m not alone. Talk to any DA and I think you’ll find an interesting story as to how they found their way here.

I’ve been at Room & Board since the fall of 2011 and enjoy how all my experiences seem to weave their way into present day in some form or another. I continue to see themes of education and design in many things that I do. I’ve been the bedding captain, the lead educator for our Custom Window product category introduction at the store level, acted as mentor for new hires, worked as Brand Liaison, worked with Visual and continue to act as a Design Associate for customers that I meet daily. I continually work with new parameters and challenges every day – much like my work history. I look forward to seeing where my interests take me next.

New York, New York

Now that Room & Board SoHo has closed its doors for renovations, the whole New York City team has been reunited to work at the Chelsea location, and how wonderful it is!

Though it has only been little more than a month since the two teams separated, having all of my co-workers together again really helps to make our new Chelsea location feel as homey as SoHo once did. It has been so great showing the SoHo team around the Chelsea store and introducing them to the new 2015 collection pieces and our fancy Complete Your Home section.

Since SoHo will be a beautiful, expanded version of Complete Your Home, SoHo Design Associates have been working to familiarize themselves with all things accessories related. Whether it is sheepskin pillows and throws, decorative pillows and sheets, area rugs or our Little Shirley vases, they will be ready to go!

Although I will be sad when the doors of the SoHo store re-open on February 7th, having the team together again makes me realize how connected we are and will continue to be. It is truly awesome how Room & Board encourages and allows for, not only respectful and supportive working relationships, but the development of great friendships, as well.