In the beginning of this year, our team wanted to create something special—to give people a glimpse into who we are as a team.
We created this video…
I started working with Kevin and Anmarie just after they settled down into Berkeley after traveling in their RV. I was in full go-mode in nonprofit work. The common thread between us was that we all had a passion for something, and we were relentless about accomplishing what it was that drove us to this happiness, this feeling of being inspired.
Coming from the world of working on a cause where hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers worked non-stop, for free, simply because they believed in it was setting the bar pretty high on what to expect out of others.
I wanted this, forever. I had this idea that if we can recreate this feeling (this nonprofit passion), I’d be set. This would be the ultimate fulfillment. Really though, it’s pretty incredible stuff!
Having a rock-solid mission that people can stand by is sure a good way to start creating this passion. Being a clean skin care line (small fish) in a sea of huge companies and chemical-laden products, and taking every opportunity to shift the industry is a start. And it’s definitely a huge motivation factor.
Then, there’s challenging the status quo of the average workplace by allowing a team to truly take care of their needs, which is another idea that took light.
“We take care of us” is where we landed. I kept hearing these words echo as I repeated them from a night when Kevin, Annmarie and I were closing out a manager’s meeting, discussing what matters at ASC. How do we define our success? This isn’t to sound like our only concern is to care for ourselves, but when you really get down to the core… if you take the time to take care of yourself, you’re able to care for others on a deeper level. When you are full, you’re able to help others feel full, as well. And so, this is what we decided—the team's happiness is our mission.
…Then it began.
We started forming this framework of culture to allow the team to take a deeper look at their happiness—allowing remote work back in 2012 when it was quite rare, having a little something called backbar sessions (where a specialist of a particular subject would come in and share their knowledge with us), team outings and lunches, 5 weeks of PTO, and so many other sweet activities to connect the team to each other and themselves. We even started inviting the team to be involved in a new applicant’s interview and hiring process to make the experience a holistic one.
Over the 8 years of being with Annmarie Skin Care I learned that “creating a positive, healthy, and happy culture” is not really something you can create per se. You certainly can influence it—bringing together people who all embody a little bit of that shared value system.
But it’s the team that adds to the collective company culture that everyone sees as a whole. Your team is your core—the ones who will help drive and fulfill the company culture.
Our team is actually what makes Annmarie Skin Care so special.
Yes, I’ll be the first to say, we have some of the best natural skin care products that I’ve ever tried, and that sets us apart. Yet, the team that is behind this company adds an entire piece of uniqueness that is simply magical.
I’ve dedicated a lot of time to building out the interview & hiring process so that we can be sure the people who are joining this mission, this company, this culture, can really add to it and give back to all that it is.
Abbie, our Team Development Manager, does an incredible job bringing the company’s vision to life. “We aim to hire genuinely good-hearted, honest, hard-working people, and we have an in-depth hiring process to ensure each person is the right fit. Our goal is to make it feel like a close-knit team-oriented environment, from day one.”
She ensures the team is staying connected and feeling supported at all times—from a team member’s first day to their 10-year anniversary.
Trust, flexibility, and overall well being
We now have a 100% remote team, and so much thought goes into making sure they all feel connected to each other on a daily basis. From our team meetings and conference calls to our team lunches and social gatherings, the majority of it is done on video via Zoom—as we believe it‘s important to have face-to-face interactions as often as possible.
Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
One third of our life is spent at work. So we should enjoy it, right? Of course, we agree.
Having a positive work environment, an inspiring company mission, or being around people who make your days greater can add to your overall happiness. Working somewhere that allows a true balance and a flexible schedule is even better. We have a handful of parents that work with us and whether they need a flexible schedule or other team members want to leave room for outside hobbies and projects—there is continued appreciation to have this trust.
Although the team and what they create is the true essence of a company’s culture, we still feel that it’s important to provide what we can as a company to contribute to this. Over the years, we’ve added to our benefits and adjusted initiatives based on the needs of the team.
- We still give 5 weeks of PTO, plus 7 additional days of holidays. This should be the standard for allowing a true work/life balance and happiness, along with a few other core pieces that would be considered essential in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Competitive salary, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, HSA contributions, 1 hour paid lunch, 15 minutes paid rest & sunshine breaks every 2 hours of your day, along with flex hours to accommodate a schedule of your choice.
- We have a culture committee that meets on a monthly basis to discuss current culture initiatives & any feedback they might have for improvements, as well as propose new ideas to benefit the team. The committee, led by our Team Development Manager and Chief People’s Person, consists of 4-5 team members who rotate every quarter. This gives us the opportunity to actively implement fresh perspectives regarding our company culture.
- Our Dream Manager Program allows the company to get a deeper look into what the team’s needs and wants are. Managers take time to meet with each other and with their teams to make space and create the ways to make these dreams come true. Some dreams that are being worked on include learning a second language, traveling to France, moving to Amsterdam, buying a piece of land, learning to knit. You see the idea… no dream is too big or too small. We were inspired by the book The Dream Manager.
- Each year we allocate hours for each team member to be involved in a volunteer program of their choice. This gives them the opportunity to give back to the causes that they care most about and get paid for it.
- Our quarterly wellness focus is a company-wide initiative that allows space for team members to dive deep into a certain subject matter and care for themselves in that way—to name a few: Sleep, Anxiety & Stress, Food & Health, and Movement.
- Each quarter we have a company-wide book club. It’s optional, and you can pick and choose which ones you want to participate in. These are always educational and growth-related. Some examples have been: The Four Agreements, Growing Yourself Back Up, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
- Every month the company offers a work-life integration credit—a credit that goes towards allowing each team member to live a happier and healthier life. So whether this is a gym membership, acupuncture, delivery services, etc. It’s kind of like having an allowance to make your life easier.
There are many companies out there doing similar things. There are also some that are not. Our hope is that by showing the world what we do internally, we may inspire others to adopt similar principles and to influence a culture of openness and positivity.
Rachel is COO of Annmarie Skin Care, a skin care line that creates clean and effective products utilizing organic and wildcrafted ingredients. Her favorite parts about her job include research on ingredients, formulation, sustainability efforts, and working to increase education on organics, chemicals, and the skin care industry as a whole. She believes we should all have a say in what goes into and on our bodies—pure food, clean water, non-toxic skincare & medicine alike. In her spare time, Rachel may be gardening, renovating & designing her house, blending essential oils, playing in the yard with her akitas, or just mellowing out in her house with a cuppa tea, a good book, and some music with her cat, Koko.
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