The Next Generation:
Whether it's a new grad just starting out, a dedicated mid-career-er changing paths or leaders looking to advance, we are committed to helping the next generation of talent reach their goals. Many of our team members have created unique career paths at Jonathan Louis, and in this series, we celebrate their stories and growth. Interested in a similar opportunity? We always have our door open for future talent—check out our Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor for availabilities.
This week, we talk to Brandee Reyes, Customer Service Manager, who started working with us at Jonathan Louis full time in January 2004–however, she first started working at Jonathan Louis in 1999, while she was still in high school. Get to know her a little better: her aspirations, her experience at Jonathan Louis, and what language she’d like to be fluent in.
What has it been like for you at JL?
My personal experience at JL has been filled with many good, fun memories. A lot of us grew up together here at JL, which is why the company has that family feel, and ownership invests in their employees and makes them feel like JL is not just their workplace, but also their home. I’ve seen myself grow and develop skills I didn’t know I had. Management helps their team members by developing and coaching them. They also hold fun events to bring the JL community together for some fun and food. I feel very blessed to be part of the JL team for as long as I have, this is a really great company to work for.
How did you come to work in JL?
My mom was the receptionist at JL in 1999, and I would come help her on the weekends with her FILING, just to help out. (Yes, we filed so much back then.) On the weekends that I’d come to work with my mom, I would chat with Javier [Sanchez, CEO] on my way out and he'd give me a stipend for my work, which made a 15-year-old kid pretty happy! And I learned the value of hard work. After I finished high school, I took a different career path which ended up not being right for me. Once I realized I wanted to do something different, my mom made me speak with Javier. I was so nervous, but I made that call. I spoke with Javier and asked him if I could use the experience that I had developed over the past year-and-a-half to try a position at JL. I was lucky enough to get that opportunity in January of 2004.
Taking it all the way back to 1999!
Look at all these baby faces!
What was that opportunity?
My first role was a proofreader in Customer Service. I proofread order entries on actual paper, which meant I would organize the orders in numerical order, and my stack would end up being about 8 inches high!! Insane, now that I think about it. After proofreading, I would highlight any errors I found and physically return them to data entry for correction. I would file the remaining orders by customer in our huge filing cabinet downstairs, and I would also send out mail on a daily basis (I'd sort out the order acknowledgements by customer and then mail them out to our customers). Once I was done with both for the day, I'd sometimes label and sort swatches, or I’d assist parts department with their filing. I would also work on status sheets for customers, and also help put original orders together with invoice copies (it was all manual back then).
Smile for the camera!
Did you have a mentor (at JL or elsewhere)?
I actually had two mentors. The first was Selene [Valle Wills, Director of Wholesale Marketing]—she gave me her trust and watched as I led the team, and she coached me along the way on how to talk and approach people in different situations. The second person was Linda Potter (who no longer works at JL). She really took me under her wing and coached me on how to problem solve, work in high pressure situations and calm down issues before they escalated any further. I started to see my leadership skills really evolve with Linda’s constant support and motivation.
What kinds of opportunities to grow/learn/develop have you gotten at JL?
JL has given me many opportunities to learn and develop—these are just a few examples: Excel training, phone etiquette classes, foam education, warranty training, and customer on-site training workshop in Texas. And I was also invited to experience High Point Market and that was amazing.
What have you learned at JL?
I’ve learned so much over the years! I’ve learned about our industry, our product, how to handle different kinds of situations, personalities, how to advocate, how to coach, how to see the bright side of things even when there are challenges.
If you were a sea animal, which one would you be and why?
A starfish. I think they're pretty interesting. They don't have a brain or blood but they do live a long time.
What song can you listen to on repeat?
“Paranoid Andriod” by Radiohead
If you could be fluent in any other language which would it be?
Describe yourself in one word.
What's something that people take seriously but shouldn't?
Trying to be perfect
What's one place you've always dreamt of traveling to?
Teamwork makes the dream work!
How does JL fit into your ultimate career goal(s)? How do you see your career benefitting from being at JL?
JL has already helped me build a career. JL supported me by taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to learn and grow. I always had constant support from not only ownership, but also from leadership to push forward and embrace the changes and challenges because those challenges are only going to help me continue to grow. I’d like to continue my career at JL perhaps in Sales or Merchandising.
What roles/responsibilities are you looking for in Sales or Merchandising? What skills have you acquired that are transferable to those departments?
I feel that Customer Service is a huge part of Sales. Working with the Sales team and having our touchbases really helps me understand what the customers challenges are, and where we have opportunities. I’m a good problem solver and I’m getting more comfortable thinking outside of the box. I think my knowledge of product and the service I give our customers would be a key part in Sales. Over the years, I’ve built strong partnerships with our customers as well. I think learning more of the Sales side would help, things like how to determine what product to show each customer, what sells, how to identify the trends, etc. I know there would be so much more for me to learn about the sales aspect, but it’s something I’m interested in. Camelle [Smith, VP of Sales] has been a great coach so far and our Sales team is always helpful, kind, and honest (even with the uncomfortable stuff).
What have you accomplished here that you’re most proud of?
I’m proud to be able to watch my team members grow and develop beyond their expectations. Being able to show them the same constant support I was shown over the years is an amazing experience. Watching my team members move on to different departments or to other opportunities where they can continue to spread their wings and grow is something I’m very proud of.