Kittens, craziness and the end of my first two weeks at StitchFix Bizzy Hizzy

So tonight I finished my first two weeks at the Bethlehem warehouse of StitchFix, or the Bizzy Hizzy as they call it. I am still fascinated by the logistics of the warehouse and how well it works.

I reached 128 again tonight in my picking, which considering it looked like I hit 80 before my meal is both good and disappointing. I think I would have hit 140 had I not been stationed in W most of the night. Between the physical distance between that section and the “garage,” about 750 steps, I lost a good four minutes with every cart. That adds up to an hour over the course of the night so yes my math is correct.

This job requires so much walking— about 21,000 steps tonight—that my calves, thighs, feet and butt all burned by the end of the night but it’s the “agony” of muscles that haven’t seen that kind of action in a long time.

I do love seeing what goes in each fix and the fact that I work alone and can compete against my own performance pleases me.

I even got to visit the employee store tonight— where dresses and pants are $10, tops are $5 and you can buy five items. I bought some Christmas presents for the teenager. And a Karl Lagerfeld Paris polka dot sleeveless blouse and 1822 denim ankle skinny jeans in acid-washed camo for myself.

As close to Chanel as I will ever get

The teenager ordered Dominos at midnight so we could all— me, the cockatoo, teenager #1 and teenager #2— could have a pizza party.

That feels like a great start to the weekend.

This afternoon, teenager #1 got a haircut and bleached her hair. While out with her dad, they stopped at our foster godmother’s house to pick up a spare 18-pound turkey she had. Now it looks like I’ll be having some friends over for a turkey meal on Sunday. It will be my first attempt at making a turkey.

Meanwhile, the ringworm which originated with Hermes what feels like months ago has not only spread to both other litters of foster kittens but two of our personal cats.

Speaking of cats… teenager #1 took this video of Jupiter from the Roman Pride and within the first 24 hours on YouTube it had 622 views. YouTube: Hello Jupiter

Another day at the Bizzy Hizzy

It’s approaching 1 a.m. and I am amazed at how quickly I am adapting to going to bed around 1:15 a.m. and waking up around 8:45 a.m.

An hour ago I was placing my laptop into the cupboard, taking my last cart of fixes to the “garage” area and heading to the time clock.

I only walked 16,000 steps in the warehouse tonight but I hit the pre-direct pick picking goal of 128 fixes.

I am sitting in my bed with a gin-and-cucumber-positive-beverage-B12 cocktail. I have kittens surrounding me (the Norse Pride domestic long hairs) and Nala chattering and falling asleep on my knee—and I know my bird should be asleep right now but she wakes up when she hears me come home and she’ll be super angry with me tomorrow if I don’t give her a bedtime cuddle.

She just fell asleep — on my knee.

The scene looks something like this:

The swarming Norse Pride

Poor Fog is whimpering outside my door as he used to be the cat that slept with me until the teenager moved the Norse Pride (some of our foster kittens through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) into my room. He wants no part of those pesky furball kittens.

But he misses me now that I am working, and he pursues every opportunity he can to be with me.

Fog

Today involved some meetings, including the Lehigh Valley Regional Homelessness Advisory Board. I organized some paperwork and paid some bills as this week’s unemployment payment came.

I received EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for September, October and November so I’ve been combing every store possible for the best deals. Grocery Outlet and Lidl remain my standbys, but I find some good coupons at CVS. Today they sent me a coupon for a Starbucks Frappuccino from their ready-to-drink cooler for $1.49. I had $1 in Extra Bucks expiring today so I got the coffee beverage for 49 cents in food stamps.

Why does SNAP pay for candy and bottles of Frappuccino but there is no program to pay for bath soap, laundry supplies or toilet paper? One friend remarked that poor people must not be allowed to be clean.

So, now that I’m employed again these are issues I shouldn’t have to contemplate much longer.

And I suppose eventually StitchFix might ask me to stop blogging about them but I hope not— I’m a wholesome blogger with a long history in the public relations and journalism field.

But I’m so excited about hitting the 128 number and we had Thanksgiving dinner at work!

Adjustments

As I write this, it is Friday the 13th and after four months of no income, my unemployment has come through as I finish my first week as a warehouse associate at StitchFix. I also have three fluffy kittens on my lap and a Nala bird on my shoulder.

I’d like to find my pretty socks before I go to work tonight, where I will be working in inbound processing.

And I need to head down to the teenager’s room to visit the tuxedo kittens.

But let me tell you a little bit about life at the Bizzy Hizzy. The people are nice, and helpful. I had my first fall— I tripped over am empty pallet at the time clock. A colleague helped me up.

I’ve always enjoyed working second shift— because it allows me to start my day with what I want to do and then go to work and collapse in bed when I get home. No alarm clocks. No getting out of bed at 5 or earlier. Empty roads at night.

I don’t want to share too many specifics on the warehouse— or hizzy in StitchFix terms. We are the Bizzy Hizzy and our mascot is the busy bee.

Second shift at our warehouse is smaller than first so we tend to move into different jobs as needed. Tonight we will all be working on inbound processing as there is a lot of sweaters that need to make it onto the floor.

I don’t want to say too much and infringe upon any proprietary information, but I’ll give you a glimpse of my day.

We all clock in at 3:30 and as I typically work as a picker, my job is to run around the warehouse gathering the clothes the stylist has picked for each client. The best pickers hit the 180 fixes (or each client shipment) in a night.

The first night I picked 80 fixes. The second night I picked 88. Last night I picked 48, and then I went to inbound processing for half my shift.

The warehouse is filled with Z racks of clothes, each rack has five sections, and each row has at least 40 racks. The rows start at AA and then AB etc; then BA, BB, BC etc, through the alphabet. There is a break in the row every ten numbers. So it’s very orderly and the computer maps your path.

At 5:30, the entire population goes into the break room (maximum occupancy pre-Covid was 492) where there are free snacks and drinks. Snacks include yogurt, chips, cookies, Kraft Mac and cheese cups, oatmeal, cereal, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, muffins, fruit, pop tarts, cup of noodles, trail mix, string cheese, pudding, etc.

At 7:30 everyone takes their 30-minute meal. At 10 pm we have our final break.

My last full shift as a picker I walked 17,000 steps. I’ve lost two pounds already.

There is a company store where everything is $5 or $10. I’d like some of those shoes, and I like the look of Judy Blue jeans. I would love to score some jumpsuits or a Karl Lagerfeld blouse.

My body is getting used to being active again.

And the animals swarm me when I get home.

As I zip through the warehouse I feel like PacMan.

Finding shoes and a new routine

So after my first day at StitchFix, I will be starting full time work tonight on the 3:30 to midnight shift.

As a consequence, I’m going to have to streamline and focus my routine. Today, I got up, fed my cats, made a cup of coffee and made a list of things to do.

With that out of the way, I started the dishwasher. I also gathered, sorted and started one load of wash (which I later hung on our heated drying rack and started another to hang outside.)

Next I focused on my room: primarily running the roomba, cleaning the bird cages, and giving fresh food and water to the birds and fosters. I also totally swapped out the litter box for The Norse Pride and spent a little time with everyone.

This included some bird and kitten play time: YouTube video of Loki and Nala

Now it’s 10 am and I’m hoping to have a croissant and some fruit salad before my neighbor and her dog, Sobaka, stop by.

We’re going on a leisurely cookie walk to test one of the three pairs of shoes I bought for my new job.

I tested the ASICS last night. They felt so light. I got a black pair. I’ve always wanted a black pair. I also bought some glittery boots that are more comfortable versions of Doc Martens. Now in the end, they still may require inserts.

But if I’m buying inserts maybe I could go get the actual Doc Martens I wanted.

Mortgage for now — more shoes later.

First Day at StitchFix: Bizzy Hizzy

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to be at my local StitchFix warehouse— the Bizzy Hizzy—for my orientation as a warehouse associate.

I applied at StitchFix because many of my Target colleagues had gone there— including our former store manager who is now the head of one of their other facilities.

The state still hasn’t even looked at my unemployment claim that I opened in July, and despite having a bevy of interviews (non profits in the Lehigh Valley, N.J., and Washington, D.C.; development director for a public library in the Greater Philadelphia region; even a downtown manager), I needed an income other than the SNAP benefits (food stamps) I’ve received for September and October.

Well, I was considering applying at Wawa since the pay is above average for retail, it’s close to my home, and I’ve heard they have some good perks.

But if I have to go back to retail, I’d prefer not to deal with customers and something less labor intensive than food service would be nice.

So why not StitchFix? At least it’s fashion oriented. The walking (11-13 miles a day) will help me lose my extra 20 pounds. And by working on second shift, I will have my days more free to my volunteer commitments and other opportunities.

The benefits start day one and the high deductible medical plan is free for the employee, you must pay to add your family and you have options to have better coverage as well.

Free snacks and drinks in the break rooms.

Break rooms and bathrooms in multiple areas of the warehouse.

No dress code.

They call the warehouses by the name “Hizzy.” We are the Bizzy Hizzy.

But what blew me away was how the warehouse is organized— the clothes are on rows upon rows upon rows of Z racks. The clothes are lettered and numbered so it’s easier to keep track of where you are. Like finding a book on the shelves of a library.

I don’t want to say too much as I don’t know what would be considered a trade secret.

But I can tell you that I walked more than 1400 steps today.

Of mufflers and magic

The last few days have been emotional, challenging and at times full of mirth… so as expected, it is the full moon.

I attended a few trainings and meetings and will be (or was) on the county council meeting agenda to serve on the drug and alcohol task force. I also sat in on a meeting of the YWCA of Bethlehem’s Empowerment and Justice Committee.

Today was the first Friends of Pete mixer since the pandemic started!

But let me not get ahead of myself.

I did two loads of laundry, tended some pets, had coffee with a neighbor, vacuumed my room, tried to get information on my unemployment claim (tried two different agencies and could get through to neither), went for a walk with another neighbor… and learned some high school physics.

And then Sarah, my lead intern in the communications department at ASPIRE to Autonomy visited! It was our first in person meeting despite working virtually practically side by side since June.

She knows the delightful crazy in my house— the naughty cockatoo, the sibling grey cats, the visiting dogs, the foster kittens, marching band, teenagers 1 & 2, the blind poet friend, etc. She’s seen & heard a lot of silly and strange things via video chat.

And now she drove 90 miles to see the real thing. Maybe a should start my own reality television show… and then run for President.

Teenager #1 proclaimed that Sarah was “even prettier in real life.”

She tried to make friends with Nala, met lots of cats, and then I went to take her on a tour of my neighborhood.

And there was construction blocking on end of the street and no lie a MUFFLER and TAILPIPE at the other. To get out of my street, we had to move part of an exhaust system. To which Sarah merely said, “I am not even surprised.”

View from my garage

I drive her to the teenagers school, show her Easton Area High School (the size of which blew her mind), and (don’t judge) visited two Dunkin’ Donuts out of the six within 2.5 miles of my house. We only got drinks at one. Note: Sarah uses almond milk.

We drop the car off and take a walk around the neighborhood which she enjoys because she can’t go anywhere on foot at her house. And she asked a lot of good questions discovering the history of the Dixie cup along the way.

We return to the house because I told Sarah we were going to light a few candles. Apparently I had never mention to Sarah that I was an animist pagan (or in practical terms a witch).

Oops.

Luckily, she has a history as a Catholic and Catholics light as many candles, burn as much incense and if you consider a prayer a spell, then do as magic as witches do.

So around 4:15, we did a candle burning ritual to coincide with the 5:05 full moon. I gave teenager 1 a white candle to draw the positive light to us and keep our intentions pure. I gave teenager 2 a purple candle as I want her to draw peace, calm, and safety into her life. I gave Sarah a blue candle as her friend had cancer surgery today and we wanted to pray for her healing. My candle was green. I need money, a job or some sort of resources.

After Sarah’s first ritual, we left for the Friends of Pete mixer— the Pandemic Breakout Networking event— in downtown Easton. I also showed her my old office at ProJeCt of Easton and then we drove by the new office for ASPIRE.

I reconnected with some old acquaintances— including Gil Bean of InFlow Advisory and Pete Reinke. I met some new people and got to have drinks with my ASPIRE peers. And forgot to finish explaining to Amber, the co-founder of ASPIRE the difference between a Wiccan, a pagan and a witch.

I had a gin-elderberry-lime-berry cocktail and calamari at Ocean. I’d dined at all the other restaurants on the list so it was nice to finally try Ocean.

But let me back up and explain— Friends of Pete is a Lehigh Valley networking group that has a strong LinkedIn presence, a weekly Zoom check in and used to have monthly mixers.

It is how I met Darnell in August 2019.

And Sarah realized she’d been to Easton before— to visit The Crayola Factory. Which I had written the original press release when Binney & Smith first remodeled the old Orr’s store and launched that attraction more than 20 years ago.

Inspired by Vu Le, Nonprofit AF

I attended a Zoom Meeting today with Vu Le of Nonprofit AF hosted by The Gruvin Foundation. Now I know it seems odd for a writer and communicator from the Lehigh Valley to spend time with a foundation focused on Ocean County, N.J., but I had a hunch Vu Le would have a message that transcended geography.

But before I get how right I was, let me celebrate the fact that I attended the meeting in true 2020 remote work fashion—

My Zoom Face

While below the waist, I spotted pajamas.

Let me just say that Vu Le speaks the truth and boldly proclaims what those of us who rely on traditional nonprofit institutions to employ us cannot say.

It’s time for the nonprofit sector to be bolder and more assertive.

Vu Le, Nonprofit AF

He so eloquently described what could be improved about the nonprofit sector. From the basic concepts such as fundraisers should not be judged on how much money they bring in and we should reflect upon the greatest needs in the community versus pushing our own mission.

Le advocates for a change in the ecosystem so that nonprofits stop functioning in silos and foundations and philanthropists stop generating mistrust and wasting time and resources.

For instance, Le reminds us all that GRANT PROPOSALS are a WASTE OF TIME since most never get funded. He poses the question— what if nonprofits employed the same tactics as funders?

A hungry family comes to the food pantry. Before they receive food they have to prepare the following:

  1. Compose an essay detailing how hungry they are.
  2. Include a logic model of exactly how all food will be used.
  3. Prepare outcomes of how this food will benefit your children.

We don’t do that, right?

So, Le asks, why do funders do it to us?

He compares the current nonprofit environment to The Hunger Games and like the book series, he challenges those in the sector to end the game and take down the system.

Vu Le speaking, hosted by Gruvin Foundation

Some more of his simple but mind blowing, completely logical ideas to improve inequality in this country:

  • The “easiest” way to fix society is to elect more women of color. It’s the only way to balance the voice is old white men.
  • The wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Remove corporate influence from politics.
  • Change the two-sided narrative so it’s harder to argue.

Then he reminded us all of this fact: If most social injustice and issues that nonprofits seek to correct effect primarily people of color, why is it that typically…

Non profit boards are white

Non profit staff is white

Donors are white

So white people should allow more people of color decision-making capacity in programs to benefit them. To continue to paraphrase Le, white folks need to stop taking jobs as executive directors for programs that don’t have any impact on white people.

And if funders are only participating in philanthropy to receive the tax breaks, they need to accept that the money is no longer theirs. They need to allow those communities facing the issues at hand to make decisions on how it is spent.

And one of the best ways to promote change in the sector is to encourage funders to give general operating expense funds and let the people doing the work decide where it is needed.

Again, these ideas are not mine but belong to Vu Le of the blog “Nonprofit AF.”

Being a boss

Some days are a struggle.

The 9-month old cat “graybies” (gray babies— ha ha) broke into my room at 7:30 this morning. Fog meowed his way in, old man Opie followed, and Misty brought up the rear.

Fog curled up in bed with me making Nala the cockatoo very jealous so she was stomping her foot in her cage.

After I got out of bed (into the cold outside world), I fed the troops and decided to vacuum my room as Nala had decided to terrorize my parakeets and remove as many toys, newspapers and chunks of litter as she could from the cage.

The roomba was not picking up. He was roaming around the room happily but with no suction. So I went downstairs and carried the real vacuum cleaner to my bird-filled bedroom.

I clogged the hose.

It’s a rough morning when all the vacuums in the house gang up on you.

I got myself dressed, let the teenager fix both vacuums, and decided to try my luck with dark eyes and red lips.

Face by Baby Bat Beauty

I used my new Baby Bat Beauty cosmetics— eyeshadow in mechanical and lip gloss in trepidation. I’m pleased with the results.

Darnell (of Evolve Media) and myself (as a representative of Thrive Public Relations) had our regular lunch meeting with Sophia regarding her Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club. The sample copy of Lady Boss magazine is available on Issuu but we are looking forward to future expansion in style and content. That’s where Darnell and I come in.

Upon arriving home from our meeting, I tripped over a shipment of cat food and scraped my hands and knees. Upon cleaning up and changing from my bloodstained pants, I actually started working on copy for the next issue of Lady Boss.

All I’d had to eat today was some sushi and too much coffee, so when the time came to take the teenager to marching band, I realized I had the shakes.

I didn’t have my wallet though. I ordered a pizza from my phone via Little Caesars and had a free soft drink coupon for Wawa.

After inhaling the pizza and a diet ginger ale with all raspberry, vanilla and orange flavors, I attended a library board meeting as I am a trustee.

Now I have just enough time to pee before I run back to the school for the end of band rehearsal.

Communication and Creative Language

Last night, some of the team at ASPIRE to Autonomy Inc — myself, my amazing intern Sarah, and one of our founders, Amber— decided to support The YWCA of Bethlehem and improve our communication skills by attending the YW’s Yes! Empowerment Series sponsored by Provident Bank Foundation.

I had a great time and it sounded like my colleagues were having fun at this virtual workshop on building powerful communication skills.

The workshop was facilitated by Danielle Adams of QueenSuite Coaching. I enjoyed her style and approach as she deftly encouraged us to write our intentions, guided us through an exercise in drawing what we hear, and discussed listening, speaking and leading styles and how they intersect.

It reminded me of a story I like to tell— even though my husband and I know each other down to the minutest detail, we struggle to communicate. Our brains are much too different. So I can’t do projects with him.

Let’s say we were designing a logo. I could write specific instructions of what I wanted and when he finished it would not even resemble what I had in my head.

I can send the same exact directions to my friend Gayle, yes the same Gayle of walking adventures, and she will transform it into my vision.

Painlessly.

It happened again today as we are working together on ASPIRE’s annual report. I had some quirky ideas so I was nervous sending them to design. And then Darnell asked if Gayle could help.

I was ecstatic when he asked because I needed her. I knew she would be faster and give clean design on a short time frame.

And she sent me her first days’ progress— I’m giddy.

It’s been a long time since I had the freedom to implement my ideas.

And so far, I think Darnell is pleased too.

Anyway— point is— some people struggle to work together effectively and it’s not because one party is “wrong” or “inept” or “stubborn” or “hostile,” sometimes people have different styles and their brains don’t mesh.

What matters is how we respond to those difficulties.

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail