Meet the Employees
This week my blog is about my employees because I feel it's important for my customers to know who works with me, and what we are all about. When someone buys something from a small business, they are supporting a family. They are helping me feed my boys (and teenage boys eat a LOT), helping me put gas in the car, or pay for my electricity, as well as getting a delicious, high quality product. Please take a moment to read about everyone who works with me at Trixie's Fabulous Dressings.
I am so lucky to have such a supportive family. Starting with my sister Christina, who encouraged me to take this crazy ride. I gave a brief synopsis of my story in the “our story” page on the website, but I didn’t go into much detail. I eventually will have a blog post that will expand on that story, but for now, I wanted to introduce my current employees, which happen to be my kids and my parents.
First I have to mention my sister Christina. She is not an employee of my company, but without her, I don’t know if I would have started this business. She is 18 months older than I am and I can honestly say, she is my best friend. I am so blessed to have such a supportive, amazing sister. Is she perfect? No. But no one is. She is loyal, bends over backwards for the people she loves, supportive beyond words, and the best sister anyone could have.
Not long after my divorce, I said to Christina, “I think I need to do something with these salad dressings I’m making. Everyone is telling me I need to bottle them because they like them so much.” I was trying to get back into the workforce after being out of it for so long to raise my boys and I was looking for something that I enjoyed doing. Having recently finished my masters degree in nutrition, I was disappointed to find out that I wasn’t passionate about providing nutritional counseling to clients. I just enjoyed making the salad dressings SO much more because I felt like I was encouraging healthy eating, and also was able to express my love of cooking. While driving home from work one day, I called my sister, and it was she who said to me, "I think you just need to go for it [it meaning the salad dressing company] because you should never look back on your life with regrets. Don’t look back when you are 80 years old and say, I should have started that salad dressing business when I was in my 40s.” She told me it is scary to do something like this, but it’s worse to live with regrets. She was right. I give her the credit for helping me take this leap of faith into the whole Trixie thing, because had it not been for the conversation that day, I don’t know if I would have started this business.
Andrew is my oldest son. He is currently (as of this writing- October 2017) a 19 year old freshman at Rutgers University. I miss him so much, but thankfully, he is only going to school about 45 minutes away from me, so I do get to see him. I guess that means he is technically, not an employee for the time being. He spent the summer helping me at one of the farmers markets. He and my youngest son Nicholas (more on Nick below) both sat in the hot sun every week and sold the dressings. That’s not that much fun when you are 19 years old, but he never once complained. He would text me throughout the day and tell me how the sales were going that day (I work 3 other jobs besides the salad dressing and I would work in an office so I couldn’t even be at my own booth), and would run to Costco or Restaurant Depot for me. He is pretty big and strong, and he would lug bottles of olive oil, and gallons of vinegar and help me load the car. If you have ever worked at any kind of a booth, you know the car gets completely packed, so it was a lot to load up. Andrew listens to me and encourages me, and I really was so appreciative to have his help this past summer. I know when he comes back for Winter break, and next summer, he will resume employment with mom. And yes, if you’re wondering, I DID pay him and Nicholas for working at the stands, but he would not accept any money for the gas or time he spent doing any of the shopping for me and reluctantly took the money (as did Nick).
Nicholas is my youngest son. As of this writing (October 2017) he is a 15 year old freshman in high school. Nicholas is my biggest help. I can’t even express in words how grateful I am for everything he does to help me with this business. This kid helps me with putting on the labels, heat sealing the bottles, comes to Restaurant Depot and Costco with me, encourages me, helped all summer (and still helps me) at the farmers market with selling, loading and cleaning up. If your label isn't on completely straight, just know it's most likely being put on by me or a 15 year old who is doing his best. He often tells me not to pay him because he sees the struggles I have with this business (the struggles of this business will be another blog post because there have been days that I’m like, “what the HELL am I thinking?”). He is my number one supporter and I am so thankful for him. He is smart, and funny and constantly comes up with good ideas for the business. I honestly don’t think I could have been in business without Nick this year.
Dean is my middle son. As of this writing (October 2017), he is a 17 year old junior in high school. The big joke with Dean is that he is not involved very much with the business. He claims to be the taste tester, and helps with marketing, but in reality, he just encourages me and makes me laugh all the time because he is funny as hell. I had to mention him here, even though he isn’t an employee because he is the middle child.
Marie is my mother. Yes- my 83 year old, legally blind mother is my employee too. Does she drive me crazy at times? Yes- she absolutely does (and I know I drive her crazy too), but I can’t even tell you how great it is to feel so supported. My mother is 83, and honestly comes and helps me as much as she can. She is a bundle of energy. Sometimes just having another person at the farmers market is a huge help (think about when you have to use the restroom- she stays with the cash box) and she often helps other vendors with that task! She helps me as best she can with setting up, unloads my car at the market, talks to people, and gives recipes out too (not always of Trixie's dressings, but that's OK). My dad, Carl (age 87) also helps with driving me over supplies, or if I am running low on dressings, he will pick some up and bring it over to the market for me. He also gives me moral support. It really warms my heart to see her and my dad being so supportive of this business, and it makes me feel so loved because I know they sincerely want the best for me, and would do anything they can to help me out. I am so appreciative for this, and happy that I have this time with her and my dad in their senior years.
Marge Agliozzo Chapman, aka Trixie
I wasn’t going to write anything about myself, because I want to save my story for another blog post, but I will mention that am the CEO, CFO, Director of Sales and Marketing, Operations Manager, Salad Dressing Maker, Dishwasher, Bookkeeper, and literally do just about everything else for this company. I love it. I have finally found what I want to be when I grow up. The president of a salad dressing company. I work on this company every single day and strive to learn as much as I can, constantly improving. If something works, I look to see how I can do it better. If it doesn’t work, I look to see what I can do to make it work, and get better. I am driven. I am passionate. I am grateful. I routinely work until about 11pm (or later) doing things for this company (such as blog posts) but I know with hard work and dedication, I will continue to be successful. I actually already consider myself successful, despite the fact that I am still in the red with this business, because I have found my passion.
My hope is to eventually expand and have my own commercial kitchen. I would love to be able to employ people who are mentally and/or physically challenged, as I feel that it's empowering to be able to work and provide oneself with independence and a feeling of self worth that comes from a day of honest work. I know being able to provide people who might not have the opportunity for employment elsewhere would give me so much joy, and we would have fun (as much or more as my current employees do). If you are interested in working here, I'll let you know when we are hiring!