Family Business, and a Publicly Traded Company
I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life, from the public sector, to freelance work, small businesses and big businesses. What I’ve learned is for who I am, the smaller the business the better it is to work for. There is nothing inherently wrong with the big business model, but there are many pitfalls that are avoidable by working at a smaller scale. I would say I generally have had the best experiences at everywhere I’ve worked, and I want to share with you some perspective from someone who has seen all sides.
Firstly, the last job I had was managing at Nordstrom in Bellevue Washington. I can safely say that that was one of the most supportive and engaging work forces I have ever been a part of. They mostly promote from within, provide countless training opportunities, and everyone has the attitude of loving what they do. It’s like a sitcom version of what a retail job is, exaggerating all of the best, and unfortunately worst parts of working for a big business.
The atmosphere there is intoxicating and vibrant, everything they sell has a story and a history of why it was chosen to be carried by Nordstrom. It’s a carefully crafted and beautifully thoughtful retail shopping experience. However working there, while can be described the same way, can also be frustrating in ways that only a big business can be.
To affect change on a large scale is nearly impossible, no matter what position you’re in. Even if you are one of the Nordstrom brothers (even when working for a huge corporation, I managed to find myself working for a family business), you have shareholders to answer to and thousands of people to take into consideration. With a small business, making drastic changes to company structure is as easy as a meeting with a handful of people. Especially if those people are your family.
My dad bought National Drycleaners in 1994 (3 years before I was born) from a returning serviceman who started the company in 1944, and it is still a Seattle staple to this day. He would hire kids straight from Ballard High since he found high schoolers were usually the best workers, he would give discounts to local businesses, sponsor local little league teams, and give free cleaning to the jobless to help them get back on their feet. Every member of my family has worked there, and most of my childhood friends.
Working there, if I didn’t like a system we had, I could talk directly to the CEO, CFO, and owner immediately, and they would be the same person. And if it was an idea that he hadn’t tried already (which, let’s be honest, he’d been doing this so long there rarely wasn’t an idea he hadn’t tried) we would give it a go. It felt like I could truly help, and make sure that I never felt helpless in influencing the direction of the company.
We started caring for wedding gowns before I can remember, and I’m proud to say I think we have evolved and learned and grown, and still are the most qualified people to handle any dress that comes in our door. That’s why I’m so excited to be starting this new endeavor with Mike my dad and Holden my brother, doing what we do best and only that. Caring for wedding gowns, and being a business essential to the fabric of Seattle. After working countless jobs, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be and I’m so excited to keep providing Seattle with a service that only a small business can give.