Every year, the Spicery dedicates a week to ‘job-swapping’, where each of our full-time staff members switch place with another to find out more about what their role entails, and have a go at doing it themselves. It’s a great, hands-on way to learn about all the different cogs that keep the Spicery machine in motion, and allows us to see a part of the business that is out of our usual remit!
This year, Adam showed Rob M the ins and outs of dispatch, explaining exactly how your orders make it safely from our warehouse to your doorstep, via trusty Royal Mail. We want the right thing to turn up to the right place (in one piece!), so this requires focus and care, as well as speed and efficiency to get everything sent out as soon as possible after being ordered.
In return, Adam ditched the tape dispenser gun for a wooden spoon, as Rob M gave him a cookery class! Our recipe developers are constantly testing and refining the recipes that eventually take the form of monthly spiceboxes, cookbooks, recipe kits, club recipes, and everything in between. We have at least 20 different recipes in development at any one time, from the very first trials of a new idea to reworking old recipes, or the final test of a recipe to be photographed before being sent for production. We then have a communal staff lunch every day where we eat the dishes that have been prepared for testing during the morning!
Sinéad (who, in her own words, isn’t good at ‘telling people what to do’!) had to leave her comfort zone as she swapped places with Marc, the warehouse manager. Marc runs a tight ship in the warehouse, working to a strict production schedule to make sure that all of our products are assembled on time, as well as organising the staff rota (which can be complicated as we employ lots of students who work part-time around their studies) and delegating the daily tasks.
Marc then got to experience working in Sinéad’s world - behind a camera! As our in-house visual content creator, Sinéad designs everything from the recipe card in your subscription box to the monthly newsletter that comes with it, as well as snapping photos to be used on social media and in marketing material. Another major part of her role is food photography, and she’ll often be found just before lunch-time, expertly styling a spread of dishes ready for a picture - a task that Marc got to try out for himself!
Georgia, who’s usually found behind her desk, donned overalls and a hairnet to get hands-on with the spices! She swapped jobs with Rob S, our resident spice-blender, and had a go at mixing up one of the spice blends for an upcoming subscription box. This involves scaling up the quantities, finding the right ingredient in the stock-room (a real workout for your arms as you have to lift some massive sacks of spice!), measuring out the right quantities, then transferring the mix to a machine that thoroughly blends it all together.
Rob S then got to swap with Georgia, our product developer. Every product starts its life as a rough draft - complete with scribbles, changes and typos - which needs to go through many different stages before it’s eventually ready to be stocked on our shelves. This involves getting everything on to neat spreadsheets, filtering out any errors with thorough proof-reading, helping with the design of the product, liaising with the printers, and finally listing the product online. This job also means keeping an eye on customer feedback to ensure that our products are working as they should be, responding to product-related customer queries, and the really fun part - coming up with ideas for brand new products!
The week also saw Creative Director Amy swap places with Samer to pack spice sachets in our shop, a job which really familiarises you with the (156!) different spices and house blends that we sell, and their many varieties (i.e. whole, ground, toasted). Luke, who usually spends his time packing, labelling and quality-checking ingredients, also got to spend some time with Robyn, our General Manager. She oversees everything to keep the Spicery running like clockwork, and as the fount of all Spicery knowledge, is pretty much the go-to person for any issues.
In Spicery tradition, the week was finished off with a kayaking trip around Bristol harbour, starting from the canal just on the doorstep of our office. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather as it was a gorgeous sunny evening - perfect for a paddle and a pint! Thanks to our brilliant guide Iain from the Adventurous Activity Company for getting us round without anyone falling in the water! You can check them out here.