GLCO Head Product Designer - Elena Doukas
You may or may not be familiar with Elena Doukas, our head designer here at GLCO. The story goes like this...In March of 2010, my store in Venice (A. Kinney Court) was looking for a new hire. We were short staffed and business was good. It was the first time we were hiring someone that wasn't our friend through word of mouth. So we took to the internet and placed our first ad on Craigslist. Any of you who have used CL for this before knows that you have to sift through a lot of garbage when posting through Craigslist and even then you probably wont get lucky. Especially today with all of the alternative ways to find employees via LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, agencies and what have you.
Anyway, after conducting a few hopeless interviews (I mean literally half the people we interviewed I think we could have sold them a frame before they left the store), we came across a response from none other than Elena Doukas. I remember vividly reading the email from her when I was in a movie with my wife (the movie was Where The Wild Things Are). Elena asked if she could reschedule her appointment because she had class. We were looking for a full time employee and I didn't feel like wasting my time or hers, so my response was straightforward, "We're looking for a serious employee, so if you are in school this probably isn't the right place for you." I shouldn't have speculated that to be the case, I admit. In any case, Elena demanded that we interview her and that she was willing to miss class if necessary.
I'll never forget that interview, it was 9am on the AKC sales floor on a warm March Day. Doukas was visibly nervous but a great interviewee nonetheless. I remember asking her if she wanted me to open a window or the back door because she was kinda sweating a little....we've all been there. Actually that really broke the ice and she cooled down. I remember going to breakfast afterwards with Adrian, we sat down and ordered breakfast at Cafe 50's. We basically looked at each other and said, "what do you think?" A smile came over both of our faces and we knew without any further conversation, this girl was worth a shot.
We wasted no time and called her back an hour after her interview and said, "you got the job, when can you start?" The rest is basically history...but I will tell you a little more...Oh and she did graduate school in the summer of 2011, so don't think I hindered that from happening..she worked around the clock.
Elena's first day was March 5th 2010. I remember this because it was Friday and it was the first event we were doing with Gourmet Shoes in our courtyard. We not only asked Elena to work a full day, but then to follow up with "guarding" the product in the store for the event from 7-10pm. So basically threw her into an 11 hour work day, and of course she did it with no complaints and hardly any guidance. Its hard to even remember training Elena. It was a time when we were learning and growing so fast and doing so much all at once and really just having so much fun and Elena really was just immediately one of us.
So how did Elena go from retail employee to head of design you wonder? Well, in the summer of 2010 I was working diligently on my first collection, traveling back and forth from LA to Hong Kong and also trying to juggle my time at AKC. That June we actually hired Karena Meyer, who is the store manager of AKC to this day, but we hired her and were a team of 4 largely in part to my constant travels. Anyway, I was in the store one day just me and Elena and it was a little bit of a slow retail day, and I was working on some of the CAD drawings on the retail floor and I said to Elena, "I'll give you a dollar raise if you can tell me the difference between these two drawings in less than 30 seconds."
I remember vividly that the frame was Altair and I wasn't sure if I wanted the end piece to be 10 millimeters or 10.5 millimeters. A completely minute difference that does make a world of difference. Elena calmly walked over to my computer, looked at the two drawings and within 5 seconds said, "the one on the right is wider and little bit wingier, the end piece is longer." I was shocked, I mean this girl had be in the eyewear industry for barely 4 months. So, given my extensive weakness for organization I decided to start giving Elena a larger role with development. We spent the next 6 months working on the collection with any extra time we had that wasn't dispensing glasses at A. Kinney Court, and proudly released the first GLCO collection in February of 2011.
Elena is one of the fastest learners I've ever met and the most natural talent that I've ever seen for a specific craft. Her sheer drive for perfection and passion for design has taken her career to the next level. Elena wants to be the best at everything, and its never quite good enough for her, which is a good thing for what she does at GLCO. She is GLCO family in the biggest way and I feel blessed that for whatever reason she crossed my path. A major contribution for personal happiness in my life.
So with that story behind us, here's a look at Elena's new and improved (not really, it was always improved, just kinda new now) life in Mt. Washington.
Stories like Elena are the biggest reason why I want to be an entrepreneur...and I'd like to think we have a few more of these awesome stories here at GLCO, Elena was just first.