Before I started Sweater Box Confections, I had the honor of working two winters in Atlanta for the Reeb family in their fourth generation chocolate and pastry shop, Maison Robert.
I met Robert as a student at John C. Campbell Folk School, a magical place in western NC. I took his class twice and got to be his assistant for a couple years until his daughter, Katia, played the daughter card and I got booted. Oh well, she hired me for the Atlanta gig so I forgave her.
It was a great experience. Not only did I get to work around chocolate and pastry each day they also paid me! That was sweet. I learned A LOT. It's amazing what one can learn by watching. My favorite watching place was while eating lunch on the kitchen bench in the back. They provided lunch each day from the shop. A simple salad, a decadent slice of quiche or a sandwich, usually eaten from an aluminum pie tin. My favorite (depending on the day of the week and phase of the moon) was a turkey and Swiss on a baguette; a little lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes and spread with dijonaise. Lunch heaven. Oh back to the watching thing, when I was not moaning with sandwich satisfaction I watched, watched and learned.
I worked the front on the house. I learned about customer service, systems, packaging, merchandising and so much more. I also watched and learned from a business owner perspective, before I really thought of myself as a business owner.
I realized I liked working there and I liked being an employee there and watched for ways I could emulate them as a boss if I ever became one. I liked the way I was treated, so much so that early on, regardless of who was around, near the end of the day, EVERY day, I would state in a loud voice, “Thanks for another fun day at Maison Robert,” and I meant it. Don't get me wrong, it was not always fun and games, it was BUSY. Everything was made and packaged in house and held to high standards. It was a lot to learn and it astounded me how much chocolate was made, packaged and sold on a daily basis. Have I mentioned how much I learned?
What's the moral of the story? I felt appreciated and valued. It was more than a turkey and Swiss on a baguette, it was a lot of little things. Those little things made me want to be a better employee, try harder. I was not the perfect employee, I'm not sure they exist. I do believe with proper training, systems and a good attitude you can get pretty darn close. I still have a lot to learn as a boss but I will be showing my employees a little extra love on March 4th, because it's Employee Appreciation Day. How will you appreciate your employees?
At Sweater Box Confections, we want to help you appreciate your peeps.
Remember it's little things that make your peeps get on board with your vision.
Give a little sweet something to say thanks for being a part of my team.
P.S. “Thanks for another fun day at Maison Robert!”