We started #bloominspires because we work with the most amazing candidates who inspire and motivate us every single day. We wanted to return the favor and inspire our community. For our March post, we knew we wanted to highlight someone who has inspired us and will inspire many others as well as honor International Women’s Month. Naturally, we immediately thought of Jenni Thomas.
Jenni was the perfect choice because she’s an experienced office manager who we helped find her dream job at French Girls, where she is the fifth team member and only woman. I had the chance to sit down with her and learn how she became an office manager, collect some tips for office management and startups, and get to know French Girls, and of course, Scotch.
Jenni and Scotch in the FrenchGirls office.
How did you get into office management for startups and did you always know you wanted to be an office manager and do support work?
So… no. I didn’t know that I always wanted to be an office manager. I think when growing up there were several different games that I would play. One of them was always teacher and the other one was secretary. So I think that I always had sort of an elevated view of that role - who knows why. In that respect my subconscious knew, but my background is more in restaurant management. That’s where I started.
There’s a lot of traits that go along with office management that are very similar to restaurant management. I moved into office management because I was the restaurant manager at a Korean restaurant and I broke my ankle in a stupid accident and then I couldn’t work at the restaurant anymore so I had to find another job that I could do that was mostly seated; and I landed a job as an office manager.
So the broken ankle brought you into everything?
“Things happen for a reason,” you know, people say that when you’re down and out, but it’s true. I think we can all look back at our lives and attest to that.
You have a lot of experience in office management, what are your best tips to give to office managers?
Office managers are multifaceted and have a lot to offer so I would really encourage them to find something else they can do for the company in addition to their job that helps them stay connected to the business and mission.
What are the best tips for people who want to grow into an office manager role?
Well, I broke my foot… *laughs*
So, breaking your foot is the first step!
Yes! Or, just immersing yourself in an environment like an incubator or coworking space where people are having ideas or starting their own business. I took on an internship at The Hub in San Francisco and that’s how I met the founder of the second tech company I worked at. We just found a job for me. I think that that’s a really good way to break into the office management world - be in the right place at the right time. I mean, that’s why Bloom Talent is Bloom Talent. People need help connecting and being in the right place at the right time - you all make that happen.
What advice would you give to a startup that’s thinking, “do we need an office manager right now?”
That’s definitely a good question. I think one really easy way to assess that is too look at your current office and say, “Do people respect the space?” Someone needs to take the responsibility and make it into a space that people want to respect. If not, you might need one.
So let’s talk a little about French Girls, what brought you to French Girls and how did you know this job was ‘the one’?
I found French Girls through Bloom Talent. I had my first interview with Adam, and it was great. That interview was really special because I didn’t hold anything back; we talked a lot about what I was looking for and he talked a lot about what he was looking for and it just matched. Bloom Talent did some great match making!
I also loved seeing these four men who just moved to the city from Scranton, Pennsylvania, come in and just have these big ideas and not be afraid, and not be intimidated, and have that drive and ambition - that’s what I was attracted to. I was like, I want to be a part of this!
So you joined a very small company and you’re also the first woman hired at French Girls. How has that affected you and the company? Have you noticed anything? Have the guys noticed anything?
Yeah, of course. This is standard I think in the startup world. It’s definitely a boys club. It is. And I’m ok with that! I think I’ve learned a lot over the last 4 years of working in the startup industry about being the only woman on the team and I think that one thing that I really want to hammer in is that it’s really easy in that situation to feel as if you need to be less feminine in order to be heard or respected. And I think that the number one thing to remember when working in a male dominated industry and environment is that you need to be confident and don’t be afraid to just stand up and be a woman. Just be a woman in that world. Be proud of it. Be that woman. Be confident. Be intelligent.
I am here. I’m a smart, capable, intelligent woman and I’m not apologizing for that and I’m not changing anything about me. Every group needs some diversity in it and if you are that diversity, stand up and own it!
Ok, last question - what is something you want everyone to know about French Girls?
What do I want everyone know? Hmm… Everyone should know we have a mascot, his name is Scotch, and he has a personality and he’s wonderful. I may have heard that Scotch is thinking about running for mayor of San Francisco…
Seriously though, what I want people to know is that French Girls is a really unique app. It’s creating a world for artists to create art and it’s also creating a world for people to admire, appreciate, and love art. It’s the two different worlds that are coming together in our app - it’s a world for art lovers and a world for art creators. No matter which category you fall into - don’t be afraid to create.
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If Jenni has inspired you to become an office manager or hire an office manager - reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Jenni has inspired you to create - check out the French Girls app. Picture curtesy of Jenni's Instagram.