If you’ve had any customer service interaction with Evermore, then you have been lucky enough to have worked with Erin Jonas. January 9th, 2022 is her 4-year anniversary with Evermore, and wow did that time fly. Much like everything else that seems to propel our story forward, hiring Erin was a stroke of luck and circumstance.
We call Erin our Customer Service Ballerina because she originally trained to be a professional dancer and had the chance to be one, but ultimately decided that joining a company would not be the best path for her well-being. When I initially met her, she was managing a circus space (where I often trained on trapeze), performing on lyra and aerial silks at nightlife events, and bartending (though barely of drinking age herself). I was always struck by Erin’s maturity and warm outgoing personality. After I was grounded by a shoulder injury, our contact was pretty much exclusively via social media
On January 9th (coincidentally co-founder Alison’s birthday), 2018, a post from Erin appeared in my Facebook feed.
Today I walked on a flat (albeit wet and icy) surface and twisted my ankle with the most disgusting snapping sounds I’ve ever heard. Icing/taking Tylenol/praying it’s better in the morning. My cab driver actually carried me up the stairs... not my proudest moment.
I hadn’t seen Erin in years but suddenly had a strong urge to drive her to urgent care. We caught up during the very long wait. I learned that she had recently resigned from a management position at a yoga studio and chiropractic center and was devastated that her injury would make it hard to get to interviews. Neither one of us quite realized it in the moment, but she wouldn’t need to worry about that, as her interviewer had picked her up, spent a few hours with her, and dropped her off at home. Nothing was broken. That evening, I offered her a job.
When other business owners lament their difficulty in finding good candidates, my response is always the same: “Hire a ballerina.” It’s not the first place one may have thought to look, but I tend to operate from an unconventional place, and it makes perfect sense to me. Ballet careers are short to begin with (with a few notable exceptions), and often cut shorter by injury. Retiring dancers are an overlooked demographic. Many of them go to academies and often don’t have traditional college degrees. They also may not have had the opportunity to develop specific skill sets that an employer may be seeking. I often think about the qualities that make someone a good dancer, how they translate to other lines of work, and how Erin perfectly embodies this.
Fast Learners & Hard Workers
Dancers are expected to learn quickly through a combination of observation and practice. In some misguided attempt to become a more graceful human, I attended a “beginner” adult ballet class in Manhattan. Of course, it was anything but. The class followed the standard format, beginning at the barre. A few times the instructor stood in front of me, almost wordlessly demonstrating the corrections that I should make in my body positioning. After this somewhat manageable warmup, he quickly ran through a choreography sequence that students would execute, prancing across the floor. It was one of the more humiliating experiences of my life… but I digress.
Dance is difficult, it pushes the human body to its limits. Ballet dancers commit to a physically rigorous training program. To avoid injury and gain skills, they must stay focused on the task at hand for hours at a time. In addition to handling customer service, Erin is a bit of a Swiss Army employee. When she has to tackle a project, even if it requires her to develop new skills, she dives in and often has to be reminded to come up for air.
Without going into details, the dance world is not known for having the most humane working conditions. My background is in positive reinforcement-based dog training, and I’d like to think that I carry this into my role as boss. Treating your employees well encourages retention. Treating your employees well when their past professional experiences were borderline traumatic creates fierce loyalty.
If you’ve ever seen a ballerina’s bare feet, you’d know that achieving grace en pointe requires a tolerance for physical pain that most of us don’t possess. Somehow professional dancers manage to focus on the full body engagements required to balance and leap on broken and bloody toes… with serene expressions or even smiles. In Erin’s primary customer service role, the ability to calmly endure uncomfortable situations serves her and our company well. While our customers are by and large amazing, the logistical complications that can arise when shipping a frozen product occasionally create frustrating situations for everyone involved. Erin has the preternatural ability to remain upbeat in the face of anger, while solving whatever problem is put in front of her. I’ve witnessed firsthand calls that have begun with shouting on the other end and ended with shared laughter.
In the time that she has been with us, Erin has become an essential part of Evermore. Not a day goes by when we aren’t grateful for her hard work and dedication. Not a day goes by when we don’t see an email come in singing her praise. Not a day goes by when I'm not secretly thankful for Erin's misfortune in that icy train station.
Thank you, Erin, for being you and for bringing so much love, positivity, and dedication to our pack. Happy Anniversary!