When I graduated college in 2014, I landed a salaried position doing administrative work. My family was happy for me but I started having second thoughts after the first couple weeks. The air conditioning was unnaturally cool and unwavering throughout the day. It made me nauseous. The cramped cubicle didn’t help. It was so small you couldn’t even turn around all the way. I started making a frequently suspicious amount of visits to water cooler. My department head didn’t like that. The only noise other than the light bulbs were the rolling clicks of a keyboard or a solitary cough every so often. I crossed my legs to keep from tapping my feet. I quit after about a month.
After that, I worked several other jobs. I worked in a deli, cooked for a coffee house, and delivered my fair share of pizzas. None of those really did it for me either. At one point, an employer suggested I might have a knack for carpentry. I started asking around and heard about a place called James + James. I drove over and filled out an application. A few weeks later got a call to come in for an interview. I put on khakis, a collared shirt, and a tie. I don’t think I have had to wear anything like that since then.
Working at James and James has been the best job I have had since finishing school. I look forward to coming to work every morning because I work with really talented and intelligent people. There is a respect that everyone has for one another’s work ethic and skill set. Learning a craft is empowering. We rely on one another and have a unique role to fill. Carpenter, Finisher, Delivery Driver: it’s an identity with integrity we uphold. This motivates me to learn as much as possible and keep working hard. There is no slipping through the cracks at James and James.
Every Monday we have a meeting where we review our company’s goals and progress. At the end, the floor is open for discussion. We have an opportunity to hear from everyone face to face when something comes to the table. If something pops up in between Tuesday and Friday, James is a text or a phone call away. We all have his number. Most of the time, he’s next door in the office though. The only time we use email is to ask time off from Keller, our operations manager. Her response is always quick and is accompanied, more often than not, with a smiley face.
I work in the wood shop and it is awesome. It’s the polar opposite of any conventional office. In summer, we keep the bay door open. It’s great to have all that sunlight and open air come in. Fall is the best. You feel the temperature heat up and cool down and it’s never unpleasant. In winter, we close the door and turn on the heater. It works well and we generate enough heat working to pick up any slack.
The carpenters on the build team all come from different backgrounds. We have carpenters who have worked in the business for a long time. We also have people like me who have degrees in creative writing, biomedical engineering and psychology. Everyone has a unique perspective on the best way to approach a piece. Starting out, this diversity of knowledge helped me to develop my own style. We all have our own methods and even the veterans continue to refine theirs by working together. Collaboration is part of every day at James and James.
James and James is similar to what many contemporary white collar workspaces strive to be. We’ve got an abundance of natural light, there’s plenty of kinesthetic stimulation, and everyone knows everyone else by name, no matter which department you’re a part off. James and James is, by nature, a place that makes you want to come to. The biggest difference is that we don’t push paper. We make real wood furniture by hand.