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Women's History Month at Theo

Posted by Theo Chocolate on Mar 22nd 2021

We are celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring a few of the awesome women that work at Theo Chocolate.

As a fair trade chocolate company, we often focus on the farmers that we source cocoa from. But it is important to also pay tribute to the hard-working individuals that help keep our Chocolate Factory running on the day-to-day level. In these interviews you’ll hear from women in all different departments at Theo. We hope their stories inspire you on your own career path.

Get to know:

Berni J, Chocolatier

Q: Why did you want to work at Theo?

A: I always wanted to work with chocolate, and the opportunity to do it in a place that also does bean-to-bar couldn't be more perfect.

Q: Tell us about your role in your department. What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I mostly work on the molded bonbon and that it is my favorite thing to do also, but this week we did this Easter display for the store and I loved it!

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to women entering into a similar job position?

A: Don't know really, probably stretching your arms and hands, you only have 2 hands for the rest of your life!

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment from your time at Theo?

A: Definitely the log sculpture and the mushrooms that I did for the store.

Q: Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

A: My mom, because apart of being an amazing mother (5 kids), she also is a very strong, successful and creative woman.

Q: What is your favorite Theo treat?

A: Gianduja! Love that one.

Get to know:
Abby E., Fulfillment Assistant

Q: Why did you want to work at Theo?

A: My previous job got hit hard by the pandemic. I went from working 40+ hours a week, to working 8-16 hours per week. So really Theo saved me, providing me stability in a time of uncertainty. Plus, I LOVEEEE chocolate.

Q: Tell us about your role in your department. What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I am a fulfillment assistant. My role is packaging the orders that come through from our website and through Amazon, as well as shipping the private virtual tastings and corporate gifting. I help with weekly and monthly inventory counts. And also build a lot of the gift boxes we sell. My favorite part is seeing all of the different places that Theo is getting sent to. I sent out a package that went to the street I used to live on as a kid in Georgia! How crazy!

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to women entering into a similar job position?

A: Take every opportunity to learn something new; for me that was forklift training. Never be afraid to ask for help but also don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and say, ‘I got this’. Currently, as the only lady who works in the warehouse it can be tough sometimes. But you should never feel afraid to speak up for yourself. I think ladies should know that this is a perfectly attainable position.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment from your time at Theo?

A: I have only been at Theo since August 2020, but I think the biggest accomplishment is as a team how much product we packaged for the holiday season. I am told one of the biggest seasons to date. Each week we would talk about how many packages we sent out. Coming into the job in the middle of a pandemic and at a time of growth for Theo has been really invigorating. It is hard to see a lot of companies not doing well during this time. But it is amazing how well Theo was able to adapt and grow their business.

Q: Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

A: I don't think there is any one woman who comes to mind but women as a whole - how far we have come, and what we show our counterparts we are capable of. What inspires me is women who inspire women. Women who push, encourage, support and lift each other up. We are far more capable and resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

Q: What is your favorite Theo treat?

A: I love the peanut butter cups, but my favorite is the Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. I also love all the caramels, there was the Valentine’s Day lavender jalapeno flavor that was delicious. Give me all the chocolate!

Get to know:
Sylvia G., Retail Manager

Q: Why did you want to work at Theo?

A: I wanted to work at company where I could use my experience in the retail industry for good. Retail stores rarely have such strong connections to where their products are being made, and even more rarely are part of a mission-based value system. Finding Theo a block away from where I moved into Seattle was crazy good luck, and the strong smell of chocolate didn’t hurt to draw me in!

Q: Tell us about your role in your department. What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I am the Retail Manager at our Flagship Store located right inside our factory. My job is part traditional store management —hiring and scheduling, managing a team — and then also so much more. Because our store is so close both physically and within our company hierarchy to all our other departments I get this huge opportunity to have input on products being developed, the creative direction, and work closely with other local businesses through partnerships and sponsoring. My favorite part of my job is the freedom to explore so many different parts of our business.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to women entering into a similar job position?

A: The best advice I would give other women going into a similar or any position is advice I received myself. Know your value; you have skills that make your time and energy a commodity. When you prioritize and delegate work to your team, you are giving yourself the time you need to complete work that will help guide the rest of your employees. And that work you do has a monetary value — don’t feel uncomfortable asking for a salary or benefits that you know is fair even if that means saying no to a first offer.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment from your time at Theo?

A: My proudest accomplishment from my time at Theo has to be getting our store reopened and through a COVID-Holiday shopping year. With limited capacities and online shopping so high this year we didn’t know what to expect at all. Since our Factory Experiences closed things have been pretty quiet around here, but holidays have always been a huge season for any retail store. We were so much busier than anyone anticipated, but our retail team still managed to buckle down and get us through our very long lines out the door. All that credit goes to my team members, I’m proud to have been given their confidence and trust to get us through.

Q: Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

A: I’m not sure if this counts, but a fictional woman who inspires me is the character Asami Sato from The Legend of Korra. When her father destroys their company in a too long to describe story arc, she steps up to continue running their business, engineering new products and ensuring fair distribution that always helps the “good guys”. Her logical and independent nature inspires me to stand for what I believe is right, and know that however things change I have the skills I need to be successful and continue growing.

Q: What is your favorite Theo treat?

A: My favorite Theo treat is probably the Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups; anything peanut butter makes me happy and who can resist raspberry jelly?

Get to know:
Emily M., Quality Assurance & Regulatory Manager

Q: Why did you want to work at Theo?

A: Around 9 years ago, I decided I needed to work for a company whose values and vision aligned with my own. I set out on a path and started working for an organic, environmentally conscious company. 2 years ago, I was introduced to Theo during a time I was looking to take the next step in my career. I was also ready to get back to living in the Pacific Northwest.

At the beginning of the interviewing process, I had a phone call with our personable Director of HR, Mary Merten. I immediately felt comfortable and could just be myself. Along with the company and I having aligned values, the natural human connection I felt with Mary and the Theo employees that I met during my interview were why I wanted to work here and believed it to be a good cultural fit.

Q: Tell us about your role in your department. What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I am the Quality Assurance and Regulatory Manager so, along with the QAR Team, I develop, maintain, and manage the Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory programs here at Theo. This includes leading 3rd party or FDA/WSDA inspections, investigating consumer complaints and determining product disposition for non-conforming product. My favorite part of being the QAR Manager is seeing the progress we have made towards becoming a GFSI certified factory and the level of food safety assurance that comes along with it.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to women entering into a similar job position?

A: Do not be afraid to speak up. Trust your instincts. Be a part of the conversation. As an aside, I would like to encourage young women to pursue a career in food safety/quality in the food industry. A science career might take you in different directions - mine was certainly not a linear trajectory. The food industry is a whole world. It is rewarding to be a part of, and you never stop learning.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment from your time at Theo?

A: Attaining our 3rd Party Food Safety certificate, which I must say is not my just my own achievement - it took the whole Operation team to accomplish.

Q: Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

A: Linda Miller, my mother, is a constant inspiration to me. She raised 6 children - 3 of which were triplets (I am one of them!). She was a nurse before we were born. She didn’t give up on having a voice because of having a family. She got involved with local politics, ran mayoral campaigns, moved onto the state house/senate campaigns, and eventually became the Iowa State House Representative for our home district, serving in the seat for 10 years. She was then appointed, by the governor, to be the Director of the Department of Aging for the State. She is still working, going on 5 years, in this full-time position (at 73) to ensure that things are getting done right for her family, friends and the state she has lived in her whole life.

Q: What is your favorite Theo treat?

A: Peanut-butter Big Daddy (a Flagship Store exclusive). Aren’t they just the best treat you have ever tasted?! I have been buying them in the 3-set box all year and gifting to friends for special occasions.