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Office tale of Jane LaBatte and Hollie Pocsai, co-owners of the boutique White Elephant

Office tale of Jane LaBatte and Hollie Pocsai, co-owners of the boutique White Elephant

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you :
Hi, we’re Jane LaBatte and Hollie Pocsai.

Your current job :
We are co-owners of the boutique White Elephant, which has two locations in our hometown. We focus on Canadian designed and made clothing, as well as jewelry, accessories, and gifts from independent artists and makers.

In which city are you located?
Hamilton, Ontario

A word to define what kind of worker you are :
Instinctual, intuitive, frenzied. We think bullish may be the best word to describe our work style. We get stuff done.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..):
We use Shopkeep as a POS system for the store, which is really helpful in tracking our inventory, sales, peak sales times, best selling items, and so many more analytical reports that we’ve just begun to scrape the surface of. Jane is a master of Excel and is always coming up with new spreadsheets to maximize productivity or organization. We are fans of Google and use Gmail, Drive, and Calendar. We utilize a lot of social media for the shop, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We both have day-planners at arms length. When we need to unwind we’re playing phone games like Threes, Two Dots, and Crossy Road. Or watching Netflix.

What does your office space look like?
Our main office operates out of the back room of our first location. Hollie is constantly trying to organize it to be the most efficient office/storeroom possible, but sometimes it’s tough to keep it that way with the demands of daily retail. It swings between being totally organized and a total disaster, depending on who is working and what the day brings. It’s decorated with gold streamers and old event posters for the shop and funny notes and drawings. We used to have a skylight that was recently boarded up (RIP). Our labelling system on our desk drawers is green painters tape written on with sharpie. Generally though, we have an organized system for our inventory, a messy but working system for our paperwork, and the retail floors of the shops are very well-kept.

What kind of music do you listen when you are working?
We can have pretty different tastes in music, but also meet somewhere in the middle. Hollie is listening to lots of hip-hop lately, preferring to work to anything with a beat. Jane prefers the more mellow environment that folk music provides.

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work?
Helping customers takes first priority, so it’s hard to organize methodically because we never will know the demands of the day beforehand. In between customer interactions we chip away at our to-do lists, based on what is the most pressing. It’s always changing, and issues that need to be dealt with can appear out of nowhere. It definitely requires flexibility on our part, and luckily we both like a challenge, so we thrive in this kind of unpredictable work environment.

What tips would you give to improve productivity?
We live by lists, so that we know what to tackle and when. No fancy apps to make them, just a pen and paper so that we can have the tactile satisfaction of crossing items out. Regular meetings are so important. It keeps everyone open and on the same page. We also are fans of reward systems, to keep things fun.

You’re better than your colleagues to :
We both have strengths in different areas, which makes us a great team. Jane has a head more for the financial aspects of running the business and is a whiz at scheduling employees, while Hollie’s attention to detail is great for merchandising the shops and customer relations.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?
When we opened our first shop, we were opening it in the middle of the recession. We had become friendly with an older gentleman named Maurice who told us that he “refused to take part in the recession” which we thought was such a great concept and it became our own motto during that time. While everyone else was telling us not to open our own business, Maurice took accountability into his own hands for what outcome he wanted to see.

What is your best tip for saving time ?
We’re more often than not running late for things, so we haven’t quite figured the answer to this question out yet.

What is your routine start and end of the day?
Being an entrepreneur, and more specifically an entrepreneur of a retail shop means we rarely have a routine. Running a business demands you take on so many roles, and our days are constantly different depending on what comes our way. We generally both open our two shops in the morning, but from that point on everything is different every day. Some days we spend the entire shift doing accounting, inventory and scheduling, while others days our focus is on making a creative window display or helping our customers find a perfect dress. Our “work days” usually end around 6pm, but administrative tasks often keep us online or texting each other all night.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?
Speakers in the shops!