Testimonial #1 "Problem Employee"
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
The following is a letter written to CEO Joel Kaminsky by former employee Eva Favreau.
My name is Eva Favreau. I used to work at Good Vibrations in Cambridge, where I was the only full time non-management employee, but you probably know me better as the social media manager for SECSE. When I quit my job I filled out an exit interview. When it was turned in, your employees at home office asked why the company kept such a problem employee around.
I wear “problem employee” with a badge of honor, Joel.
If Allyssa had bothered to file my one year review before I quit you could have read about all my goals for the store, and everything I wanted to accomplish there, about everything I did accomplish there. You also would have heard about how I asked her for a raise. There’s probably no good record of any complaints or questions outside of my 90 day and exit interviews, so there’s a part of the story missing. Here’s a copy of what I submitted to Allyssa prior to my one year review:
I’m growing really confident in my restraint play workshop and I’d like to develop an hour long sit down version that could actually provide some materials like mini WWW lists and have more of a discussion basis so I can answer questions people have that are a little more specific to their situations rather than just a quick overview.
I’m interested in doing the Show program if there’s an opportunity to do the BDSM/Kink type lessons.
I’d really like to do a better job of knowing the book selection. I think we can do more to push book sales and we’ve all been talking about doing a google drive with book summaries and reviews so that we can crowd source more info on these from each other.
I’m still feeling weakest when it comes to understanding a lot of the ingredient-based info. Emily and Alex have been helping a lot but I have markedly little personal experience with any of these things because I don’t use a lot of cosmetic or therapeutic products due to being squeamish around textures like that. It’s one of the things I’d like to get stronger at as I think it’s one of the places where it is easier to find “the right product” for someone and honing that knowledge means better outcomes for customers.
I’m really proud of all the window displays I’ve done, I feel like I’m starting to understand what items are best fit for the window and how to draw people in. I like that I’ve been able to do a few that focus on educational info, like the reading list and the wanderlust windows, as well as a few that are really in theme.
Merching tables has continued to be a task I like doing and feel comfortable with.
I’ve rearranged almost every wall in the store once and I’ve gotten a lot better at seeing how to make product fit and to make it appealing to shop in each section.
I’d like to think about doing something with the little table. It never feels very shoppable due to the small size so I’m wondering what we can do to make it feel like an area people can peruse better.
Since starting my OOS list we have been able to track all our back ordered product and plan around shortages in certain areas.
Felice and I have developed a solid method for catching discrepancies both in inventory and between RMS and Opsuite resulting in having more accurate information on our inventory and catching both human and computer errors so we can work to reduce them.
Transfer ordering from Brookline has meant we keep products on shelves more often and reduce wait time for holds.
The OOS list has enabled us to correct min/max and reorder for a number of products that sell out rapidly. Products that featured heavily in the early lists are almost never present on current ones which means I spend more time solving new problems that crop up than getting stuck on problems that are months old. Most of the OOS list each week is either OOS for a month or a week, meaning we reduce the number of products that are unavailable for weeks at a time.
Having updated disco lists has given me ability to push product we are selling through so we have made room for newer items. It’s also let us focus on developing solid sales pitches for products that don’t move as well because we have worked harder to know how to sell an item that doesn’t seem to sell itself.
Moving forward I’d love to be able to see more of the inventory side of things. While my paper method is useful for a number of problems, I’d like to understand the bigger picture side of things so I can work to marry the merchandizing and inventory sides of what I’m doing. If I can see larger trends it gives me insight into where we are putting our focus unconsciously and help everyone learn from each other.
I’ve sent out one of every order so far and it’s going just fine.
My goal here right now is just to get a sense of how often we need things as well as to make a supply sheet for Brookline things so I can make it a little easier to request supply transfers.
Currently I’d like to focus more on the education/writing side of things. I’d like to do content creation for the blog that’s starting up.
For the Instagram I’d like to be able to send Andy pictures of the window and of merchandizing things and cute product pictures. Essentially the same kinds of content I’ve been sending, but I’d also like to get back to making event posts and educational focused graphics with Canva.
I think starting with 4 hours a week would be a good place to begin and see how that works out. I’d need there to be a workplace licensed version of Canva and approval to use the stock websites to pull images regularly. I’d need time on the computer scheduled where I won’t be in Felice’s way, so maybe it looks like two two-hour blocks during the week.
The above list doesn’t address that I also did the first versions of the monthly merchandising reports, which included me taking photos of the leaking window and holes in the ceiling to monitor changes over time. It doesn’t tell you how I optimized the task sheet to ensure all cleaning was being done without sacrificing time needed to interact with customers. Before I left I did complete a form for non-inventory transfer from Brookline as I mentioned above. It doesn’t tell you about the events I edited and posted and how many times I had to bring up a typo on the event flyers, and how I offered to coordinate printing all promotional materials on the east coast because every month we needed something over nighted to the stores after a misprint. I had 8 years of print work under my belt when I got to GV, and seeing people’s names mistyped on flyers was a particular sore spot for me. It was embarrassing.
That list doesn’t tell you about how I handled organizing the kits binder for the store and how I kept an up to date list of disco’d products visible for everyone to see and pushed to sell through them. Every time I made a difference, home office made it clear that we’d never matter because we were the newest store. It would never matter how good it got because they’d always tell us we did well because new stores always did well, and I had no interest in sticking around long enough to see how many years it would take to change their mind. The list doesn’t tell you about how my staff picks were always chosen with accessibility in mind, or that I worked for nine months while my own hip rotted inside my body, walking with a cane for the last month of my employment after my leg gave out from under me at work. It doesn’t tell you about all the times I asked for policies on store closure during an emergency, or how to address the fact that our interaction with customers feels like racial profiling to people of color- something I learned from reading yelp reviews of the company. It doesn’t tell you that I applied for the assistant manager position when it opened up.
Set aside everything I did, and wanted to do for Good Vibrations, because all of that just made me good at my job, and you could hope that of anyone.
When I applied for the job I had a CV made up of projects and papers about running businesses in the sex industry. I was hot off the end of a 10k word essay on the ethics of Adam & Eve and an artist’s zine designed to introduce people to BDSM. I had done brand equity assessments on Je Joue and written a paper on the difficulties of global supply chain management for companies operating under the stigma of sexuality. I couldn’t have presented you with someone more dedicated to the dream of running an ethical, feminist, profitable sex toy company. That was, and is, my vision for the rest of my life. And I went to work for the company that was supposed to be dedicated to that work, and it made me so miserable, so insufferably lonely and exhausted, that when my leg gave way under my body at work, I was relieved. I didn’t know how to quit because it was supposed to be the dream, and I was facing the end of my housing in April, and I couldn’t bring myself to even look for a new apartment, because I couldn’t imagine another year of Allyssa Prutzman behind me saying “See, you don’t want to be the manager” whenever something was hard for her, or hiding important info in emails and getting mad when no one replied to them like she’d request in the bottom. Not one more year of sending questions off into the void never to be returned, of running out of event flyers, of watching my suggestions be deleted out of emails to home office. I was running out of difference to make, because I was pushing up against all the things It couldn’t be my job to do. When Allyssa got that list above she mostly told me she wanted me to teach more classes. I’m not a teacher Joel, I’m a business woman, my entire resume and CV was filled with ways I could be useful to the company. In my exit interview you can find a place where I said I would have been happy to figure out how to work remotely and actually use all my skills during my recovery to work on the projects that home office was always too busy to do, and they told me I was leaving in good standing, but they certainly didn’t feel that way after all my complaints in my exit interview.
When I sat in the doctor’s office and looked at the x-rays and the surgeon told me there was nothing else to do but replace my hip, I was at peace, because I was free, finally. I didn’t need to choose between loving myself and martyring myself for the cause I believed in, because my body took away that choice for me. It’s the only moment I’ve been relieved to have my body fail me. But I didn’t escape the failures of Good Vibrations by quitting, because four months after I left I learned that I had been eligible for unemployment insurance as soon as I quit due to a medical condition, and when I had asked Elizabeth about what I needed to know, she only told me there was no temporary disability leave, not that I qualified for unemployment. I have spent over three months now working to backdate my claim and get the money I should have been receiving. This process was made all the more complicated by the fact that Elizabeth informed me that she has never had access to the online portal and has always signed physical forms. She asked me to figure out why she couldn’t access the portal, and the UI agent I spoke to was not happy that I was trying to handle it.
My story, my complaints, are probably the least of your problems in the big picture. I would normally be happy to step back and not take up space here when I know there are much bigger problems facing GV employees, but I know that there’s a simple and dangerous lie that you and home office can tell yourselves, and I’d like to make it hard to tell yourself this lie. It’s retail, people quit. People don’t stay, people move on, people don’t understand or aren’t cut out for the job. Retail is a stepping stone to other jobs. But Joel, I’m a dream come true for a business that wants to be progressive and innovative, that wants to be efficient and change the world. I should have been a dream come true for Good Vibrations, and you would have had me for the rest of my career if I thought GV had even a modicum of respect for my time, skill, knowledge, or life. If I thought that GV as it stands, was capable of what you dream it could be, of what I dream it could be, I wouldn’t be fighting so hard to show you otherwise. This business we envision, this shared dream, it’s possible, but it’ll happen with or without Good Vibrations.
In Solidarity with East Coast Sex Educators,