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Built to Enjoy in Utah: Jana Francis, Founder, (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Aug 17th 2013

Sramana: You said you have 70 people working on this project. Tell me a bit more about how you have built the team.

Jana: There was no pool of people that I could go hire from who had done this before. You have to find and curate an amazing product that has a story. Our buyers needed to have sales prowess and account management skills. Calling manufacturers and convincing them to give you a high volume of their product at a discount that they never would have considered selling at. They are essentially letting us compete against them for a day because they sell those products for full price on their website. It takes a skilled person to help a manufacturer understand that. Our buying team is full of talented women who are amazing at product selection and are in tune with their audience. I have found that people from media sells are great in this position. Perhaps that is because that was the career I came from, and I knew the skill sets they came from.

Some of our best employees are also people who have been our top customers. I have recruited them over the past several years. Our customer service director was a fan of ours before she joined three years ago. Our vendor manager was one of our biggest local fans. She has moved up in our organization consistently since joining. All of our employees are based in Salt Lake City, with exception of one.

We have 18 people in merchandising. Each website has two buyers, and then we have a few floaters who will buy for any of our websites. We have a lot of maternity leave here because 70% of our staff are women and 25% of them have had a baby in the past two years.

We have 12 people in our customer service team and 12 people in our shipping team. I have eight people on our engineering team. I have one HR director, and I have three people on our social media team and four people on our photography team. I have channel managers that focus on reselling inventory that we had left over. I have a few in returns, quality control and receiving.

Sramana: You seem to have found a niche in your business as well as your workforce. You have great loyalty and employee retention with a very stable team.

Jana: We have been very fortunate along those lines. We don’t pay the best because we are a bootstrapped company. Our engineering team does well, and our customer service team does a bit better than an average customer service job. Most of our customer service staff are able to work from home for 30 hours a week. That is very nice for them.

Sramana: I think what you are doing is a wonderful thing. Women who chose to have children have to raise those children. A lot of them want to continue working and have that flexibility. You have created a culture that is accommodating of that. That is a very unique talent-attraction position.

Jana: It really is. I have two employees who brought their babies with them to work today. We use our babies and kids on our website as models, and we actually sign the paperwork for that. It’s a lot of fun for our employees. For me it is very rewarding to know that the situation I dreamed of for myself is being provided for so many moms in Utah who would not have a job if they were not working here.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Built to Enjoy in Utah: Jana Francis, Founder,
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