There were some positive things about opening our first retail location that I expected. For example, the utter glee I felt the first time we put our commercial ovens to use and were able to bake 200 cookies in 8 minutes.
And then, there were unexpected gifts, things I never considered as sources of joy and delight, that have blindsided me in the most beautiful of ways. At the top of this list is our staff.
Our staff is the machine that keeps Hurley House running. They all took a chance and jumped on board without much of an idea about how things would shake out. Their work ethics are tremendous, their creativity is abundant, and their names all sound like they could be American Girl Dolls (Molly, Elizabeth, Ada, Caroline, Katherine, Jess, Kailey, and Mollie...and at previous seasons Rachel, Beth, Corinne, Tori, Lydia). We joke about how the number one qualification to work at Hurley House is you have to have a name that could be an American Girl Doll.
Our staff includes four active students and two sisters. We have two artists, a ballerina, and a singer. We have one who is the oldest of eight and another who is the oldest of six. We have two pastor's wives, and one headed to the mission field in Australia. We have three mothers (including myself) who have in total eleven children ranging in age from 3 to 14.
When you come to Hurley House, every staff member (not just the ones that work in the front) are working hard to make your experience excellent. Part of our training process is to teach our staff how to anticipate need so that others feel cared for, how to work clean so that every environment, not just the front of the store, looks orderly and tidy, and how to see every task, even washing dishes and taking out trash, as part of the process of extending hospitality to everyone who walks in our door.
When I come to work each day, the store is quiet, the lights are off, the sun is just rising. I go to the kitchen, turn on the oven, grab an apron, and begin to work. It's nice. But then, as the staff begins to arrive, clocking in, putting away dishes from the drying rack, filling the coffee pots and bakery case, pulling out ingredients and packaging orders, the store comes to life. My heart overflows.
We chat about our lives, updates on children and dogs and boyfriends. We laugh until we cry, particularly when Caroline shows us Halloween costume ideas for her dog Buddy. We attack the tremendous prep list for the day as a team, delegating, organizing, working hard until every item is crossed off.
We spend hours together working, but it doesn't feel like work. It feels like home...the kind of home where each person has their prescribed roles and responsibilities, but everyone is working toward a common goal.
The experience of leading a staff of kindred hearts, getting to know them, being able to communicate with just a glance, or knowing what another needs before they ask, has ironically provided space for me to connect and heal, even though my aim was to do that for others. I love my work, and the ways I get to execute my ideas and dreams. But the work alone would be empty without the community of coworkers that bring it all to life.