Continuing DA Education

The role of a Design Associate involves constant learning of new products and enhanced knowledge of our core assortment. Every day our team meets for a morning meeting to discuss varying topics. On Sundays, with our 1 hour meeting, we’re delighted to often have a representative from our vendors come to talk about their products and how they came to partner with Room & Board. This allows us to become more connected with the products we sell.

Recently in Boston, we welcomed El Greco with fresh bagels and had an opportunity to learn first hand of their humble beginnings as a Greek Immigrant with a passion for quality furniture making to become the number one American-made manufacturer of baby cribs in the US. We learned how involved the family is in the day-to-day operations and product development. We felt the connection when Alexis talked about the values and commitment to sustainability, safety, environmental concerns and to their employees. After one short hour, the Boston DA team had learned so much more about our partner and of how and why El Greco baby cribs and children’s furnishings became a Room & Board partner.

With so many products in our assortment, being able to make a meaningful connection with our vendors only helps us, as Design Associates, bring that knowledge and passion to our customer.

ProductDetails  Bagels

Always Planning…

Floor Map

As the Retail Merchant Liaison, I’ve been working with our Visual Associate lately to determine changes in the showroom around our Midyear Introductions. It feels like we just finished our big annual Floor Change, but that was four months ago now! There are so many components and layers that go into this type of planning. We start by brainstorming ideas and then we go back and continually edit and refine. Normally, midyear offers a chance to bring the few new items and covers that are being added to the collection, and then we can also make adjustments to areas needing improvement based on our business sales.

The picture above is of one way we look at the showroom journey in our planning process. Here, we have the fabric swatches for our large living room upholstery pieces laid out. This helps to see how adjacencies between rooms feel and to get a better sense of how a customer might experience the showroom.

We still have a decent amount of work to do and I can tell that, before we know it, we’ll be planning for our big Floor Change again. Room & Board’s overall collection–as well as our showroom–is always evolving. I must admit that there is a sense of anticipation and excitement around seeing what the new products are and being involved in the process of planning and executing changes. There is a forward momentum to this type of work, and we are always planning for the future.

We Walk Together

WalkForHunger

Last weekend, a group of nine Room & Board employees comprised of members from our Boston store and delivery center participated in Boston’s “Walk for Hunger.” The Walk for Hunger is the country’s oldest continual pledge walk and the largest one-day fundraiser focused on alleviating hunger in the state of Massachusetts. The walk is a whopping 20 miles, starting in the historic Boston common and traveling all throughout many quaint New England towns including Cambridge, Newton and Brookline! More than 40,000 walkers and 2,000 volunteers, representing every community in Massachusetts, joined together for the 47th annual Project Bread Walk for Hunger and raised over three million dollars. With Team Room & Board along with a generous donation from National Delivery raising $1,590 alone.

I am new to Boston and relativity new to the company, claiming my one year anniversary with Room & Board in April and approaching that with this fine city in June. I found this experience to be amazing for several reasons. First, those who participated did so willingly and without any compensation from the company. Second, as Design Associates we rarely have weekends off due to high foot traffic in the store on the weekends. Therefore, having such high team representation at 7 am on a Sunday morning, stands as a testament to the strength of the personal relationships created between co-workers. It is remarkable to be in a work environment where employees truly enjoy spending time with each other and will seek opportunities to do so outside of the work place.

Furthermore, to celebrate our accomplishments after the walk, a smaller group of us enjoyed a nice brunch together. In fact, even one of my managers, also on his day off, met up with us at the restaurant. We shared in several laughs while enjoying great food on the patio. These are the experiences one can never anticipate with a new place of employment, yet these are the memories that will stick with me for years to come. I feel so fortunate to be able to say my co-workers are my friends.

A Model’s Life

ModelLife

Beautiful things. Traveling around the world. Getting your picture taken. Having people fuss over you all the time. All things that fill the life of a model, right? A model’s life at Room & Board includes many of these activities, but granted it is a bit more stationary – not so much traveling around the world with this particular role. The life of a model unit is what I’m talking about.

With my secondary role as Brand Liaison I get to work with local developers to create model units to help promote our product in a residential setting and to help the particular development sell their units. It’s a great way for me to really work with so many fun duties that are outside my normal showroom role.

Like that glamorous model, the flawless presentation takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make everything look easy. There are on-site visits often involving hard hats and construction sites, meetings with developers to determine who the target audience is and, if the project aligns with Room & Board as a brand, design meetings with my Visual Associate to figure out the best product and placement, collaboration with our Central partners and finally setting up the logistics of installing and propping the units so that they look as if someone very chic is living there – even down to the kettle on the stove and clothes in the closet.

Our model units stay in a complex for usually six months to a year and are seen by hundreds of people. We often go back to primp and fluff just to make sure that everything looks perfect. Flawless always takes work.

Recently, we’ve worked with a great development in Washington D.C. called 2030 Atlantic Plumbing. It’s very near our store, has a signature look by a noted architect and is very much in line with the aesthetic of Room & Board. It’s been great to talk with customers who saw our model units, are now purchasing items for their new place and are coming to us.

All in all, it’s a great mix of design savvy, business acumen and collaboration that creates a great and successful model unit.

I think we’re ready for our close-up.

Why the 3-Day DA Role Works for Me

It’s my first blog entry, y’all and I’m not sure what to write about. When I agreed to be a part of the DA Blogging Team, I thought the ideas would spew forth from me like water from a fountain, lava from a volcano or mozzarella from a cheese-stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut. As I sit here in front of the computer, I want to make sure I write things that are worth reading; things that are inspiring for others but also fun for me to write. Seeing that this is my first foray into the Room & Board blog, perhaps a general introduction is necessary.

I have been with Room and Board since September of 2011. I came to the store with very little retail experience, but a love of the product having shopped here for years. After buying a sofa, a dining table, a bed and a mattress, it seemed like a good idea to apply for a job to see what kind of discount I would be eligible for. After researching the company I realized that the furniture discount was just the icing on the mid-century modern cake. I was able to take advantage of the three-day role so I could pursue my other interests (work/life balance, am I right?) but still have the benefits as if I was working here for 40 hours a week. I know of no other company that lets a part-time employee have what Room & Board gives me: health benefits, 401(k), vacation days and, most importantly, a feeling of belonging. Being here three days a week gives me four days to do the other things that are important in my life, like writing my book and blog, working at my other job as a waiter, performing when I can, spending time with my husband and dog, all the while trying to determine the exact amount of tequila that makes me happy happy but not messy happy.

I made a good choice when I applied for this job at Room & Board and the people I work with, both customers and co-workers, reconfirm that decision every day I am here.

Giving Back the Room & Board Way

Working at Room & Board is quite a unique experience. In contrast to other retailers, our business philosophy encompasses basic, yet profound, human tenets that we call our Guiding Principles. One tremendous example of this refreshing dichotomy between the traditional retail-world and the one fostered by R&B is our stores’ connections to their communities. In fact, each market is given the autonomy to select a vetted community partner with which to engage financially as well as emotionally through volunteer opportunities.

Recently, our team in Atlanta had the privilege of meeting with a representative from our newly selected community partner, Nicholas House. This non-profit, Atlanta-based organization is truly unique in that it serves as a foundation for rebuilding the lives of homeless families, rather than merely “housing” the individuals and issues which have led to their circumstances. Being a part of this effort gives us occasion to celebrate the strengthening of families while taking pride in knowing that not only are the employees of Room & Board part of this revolution against homelessness in our city, but, further, that our company is fully and whole-heartedly committed to the cause as well.

Thus, what distinguishes the Room & Board way of “giving back” is our belief that it’s not merely the monetary value which counts; rather, it’s about building relationships with real people and positively affecting the lives of others while serving as a force of style, craftsmanship and value in the furniture industry. This is only one of the myriad reasons that make Room & Board such a special place to work!

NOT Too Much Information

It was a phone call with a design question. It was a deeply detailed conversation about an ottoman, and it was going to take some time. She had very pertinent questions about design considerations and materials. And unexpectedly, she detoured directly into a personal conversation.

She talked about her transition in life, her new home, and how she didn’t have very much money to spend, but she loved spending it on well-made and beautiful furniture. And most exciting of all, she was about to become a single mom to a 12 year old girl from another state who would need a bed.

I couldn’t resist asking how that incredible choice evolved for her, and she was pleased to share it with me. I could tell she was excited, but her quiet tone suggested she fully understood the enormity of her new life and the fears that come from not knowing. Would they like each other? Would they be close? Would she like being a mom, and would her daughter like being her daughter?

Her new daughter likes to play soccer. That, and her age, is what she knows.

Her new daughter’s room is small. She has never had her own room and often shared a bed. We talked about how to choose a bed that was feminine (but not too little girly) and something that would grow with her. We looked at beds that would be mindful of a budget but still feel like an indulgence for her daughter. She ended up finding the perfect piece on her own, and I was blown away at its perfection for her. The Webster Twin Bed in METALLIC GOLD.

WEBSTER

Indulgent.

Maybe also royal, athletic, simple, extravagant, or even girly.

Our relationships with our customers are at the heart of our business, and our furniture often joins someone during a meaningful time in their lives. This new mom-to-be talked through all of the most poignant considerations for her daughter’s bed with me. I felt grateful for our conversation and have no doubt that her thoughtfulness will be at the heart of her new success as a mom.