I started as a steward (dish boy) at the Jefferson Hotel and worked my way up to Doorman/Valet coordinator. After five years of service, I was furloughed due to Covid-19, and was hired by my mother to run the day to day at our family business Carytown Optical Shoppe. When life challenges me I rise to the occasion. I soak up knowledge any chance I get. Confidence is one of my strong attributes leading me to charge headfirst at my biggest challenges.
This is my mother's luxury eyewear shop she has owned for 35 years. When Covid struck, I was furloughed from my job as Doorman at the Jefferson, while at the same time, my mothers business was severely impacted. All her employees left for reasons related to Covid. One retired, one for an autoimmune disease related reason, and another moved away to be with family in another state. My mother was left to fend for herself and was struggling, and she needed help as much as I needed employment, so I came in to manage the business (take calls, do daily reports, inventory, communicate with reps/distributors.) I have grown up my entire life with this shop in our family, so I knew the basics of the day to day and learned quickly how to run the business officially, which gave her (The Optician/Owner) the opportunity to do everything I wasn't licensed to do, (fitting clients, inspecting lenses, etc.) This is where I am currently employed.
Working as the Doorman for the Jefferson, I was the first impression the guest received of the hotel, and had the important role of making sure their very first moments at the hotel were exceptional. I was reminded constantly by my managers and supervisor that was the "face of the hotel" and took the roll seriously. I excelled at reading people's moods quickly, using intuition, and treating them accordingly. This job was the most challenging, dynamic, and interesting I have ever had. I was the leader of a team that did not always get along due to the competitive environment of working for gratuity. This resulted in me perfecting my skills in leadership, conflict resolution, and keeping a team glued together and cooperative regardless of internal conflict and external stressors. But most importantly, I perfected working WITH a team while simultaneously leading the team. Being able to get a task done flawlessly while working with people you may not agree with or respect, or like for that matter; is an acquired skill. Leading this team consisted of taking blame and fixingproblems guests had with service they experienced, taking accountability for the issue as the leader, then speaking to that team member at fault and expressing what needs to be done differently in a respectful but stern manner. I have met and even briefly befriended countless celebrities, socialites, politicians, and even multi-billionaires. I gave every person that visited my 100%. The family of four checking in for the night received the same treatment that the social elites would receive from me. There was personalized treatment to each individual, but the quality of treatment never changed. I spent 5 years of my life on that team, through it all, and would still be there if not for Covid-19. When I join a team, if I am treated well and am a good fit, I stay for the long haul. After 5 years as the front man of a 5-star 5-diamond hotel, there is no amount of pressure, multitasking, or attention to detail I cannot handle.
References: Joe Longo- General Manager (804) 305-5099
Jeanita Harris- Manager (804) 317- 8367
Zach Powell- Supervisor (804) 922-2447
After coming home from my first year at West Virginia University, I already knew that it was not the right school for me and I would be transferring to VCU. During this down time between schools I decided I wanted to make use of the skills, knowledge, and newfound interested in cooking gained while being a steward in the kitchen of Lemaire and TJ's at the Jefferson Hotel, and gained a mentor position under a close family friend who had just recently opened her own restaurant. There, I increased my culinary skills under her guidance and learned the ins-and-outs of what it takes to open up and run a small business. Unfortunately the building the business was renting was demolished and turned into a Publix, and the owner has since passed, but I am happy I was able to soak up as much knowledge of cooking-and was able to bare witness to what it takes to own a sole proprietorship; as I did within that year.
I worked in the kitchen as a summer job before college. I cleaned, scrubbed and sanitized everything in the kitchen from the floors, dishes, stoves and to the ceiling. This was my first experience of extremely hard work with minimal pay, but I understood if I did grunt work and paid my dues, if I ever needed to be rehired when I was older, it would prove that I'm willing to work hard and I would be given a higher position in the company if I reapplied in the future. It was the hardest job of my life, but through osmosis; working around top chefs, I gained invaluable culinary knowledge that I use in my every day life today.
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