Thoughts from a Sugar Plum Manager
At the end of every year, I like to take stock in how the year has unfolded. Sometimes I'm apprehensive to look back. Maybe there was a bad breakup, illness, or an accident. Other times I'm eager, reminiscing about a trip with friends or remembering conversations with my daughters that ended with tears of laughter. We also experience transitional events: births, deaths, weddings, or even getting a new puppy. A lot can be crammed into a year.
I relive my choices and conversations that have been pivotal in changing the direction of my life's path, seeing it more clearly now that the moment doesn't hold raw emotion. This year, when I look back, I know that joining the Sugar Plum Crew has been transformational. Since I took the role as a studio manager with Sugar Plum, I find that I'm thankful on almost a daily basis.
Similar to each year, our paths in life may cross the gambit of variety – and my career did just that. I worked as an electrician's apprentice at Todd Shipyard for a summer; I sold Beta videos to adult recreation and accessory gadgets for Nordstrom. I've waitressed in a greasy spoon, worked concession stands at the Seattle Center Fun Forest, managed a doctor's office and painted houses. Along the way, I experienced working for all kinds of companies. I worked for good bosses in bad companies and bad bosses in good companies. From my first job babysitting through the hospital lunchroom or the last two decades I spent in the beauty industry, I started to observe what created a thriving workplace.
In July of this year, I celebrated my third-year anniversary with Sugar Plum. Now, as a manager, I try to take on the traits of the leaders that made me feel empowered, appreciated and respected.
From the first day of joining Sugar Plum, I was immediately aware that the company was different. From the practice of leaving a small carbon footprint and giving back to our community to the way we treat our customers as our valued guests, Sugar Plum empowers every person throughout the experience.
Sugar Plum's CEO is a woman, Camilla Fogle, and she was intentional in creating a company that respects the whole team. For example, one of her goals was to remove practices in our industry that only benefited the owners. She understands that the technicians are the heavy lifters. At Sugar Plum, our hiring practices are also different. There are standard steps in the hiring process, and the last step involves the meet and greet with the studio's staff. The crew that works at each location has the final say. They are empowered to play an active role in choosing who with they spend their day! Every voice matters.
Part of respecting every team member is also preparing each member for success. At Sugar Plum, we train our licensed estheticians and cosmetologists to sugar, spending at least three weeks training in handling the sugar and practicing on real volunteers. We teach our customer service philosophy by providing each guest with the most comfortable experience possible. We expect the new employees to make mistakes, and we help them learn from these mistakes and improve.
Camilla also knows that a healthy body is essential. If one of our tech's body starts to hurt or feel overworked, she is encouraged to let us know, and we provide solutions - even if that means a day off. In fact, we only work 36 hours per week, and each room has a hydraulic treatment table. The company also provides access to a professional massage therapist once a week and training from an occupational therapist
Sugar Plum provides orca passes to staff. We have paid vacations, a 401K, and maternity leave. To assist our technicians in planning for their future and retirement, we will soon be offering access to a financial advisor.
Camilla is a dreamer. She shares her thoughts and dreams, and she allows others to participate in her thought process. Her motto is, "If I can say yes to a staff member and improve the whole, I will." I have seen her do this over and over, and this collaborative approach leads to a better experience for the whole team. We experiment when needed. For example, scheduling was one place we found success in collaboration. When our team discussed "clopening" (closing one day and the next opening), Camilla is the first one to reassess and make the change. This attitude trickles around into all the studios.
The women of Sugar Plum always amaze me. They are mothers, grandmothers, young and old, worldly and new. I learn from every one of them. Sure, there are instances in Sugar Plum - as with any job- when I am frustrated or see something that I don't like. But, because the environment is all about the team, we look at these things, and say: "Next time we can do that better!" There isn't a heavy-handed boss watching your every move, or someone keeping tabs when you mess up. We are treated as intelligent thoughtful human beings. Occasionally we stumble or fall. But the difference here is that we know someone is going to help us up, dust us off, and help us decide what direction we want to face. The difference is, as a team, we assess our year, and we know where we can improve together, but also where we can celebrate together. It's hard not to be grateful about that!