2 years have passed since I decided to leave the corporate world primarily because of health reasons which really was a physical manifestation of all the kinds of stress I have experienced in the last 15 years of my life. I used to take care of the daily operations of an eBay seller based in Australia and due to the nature of the job, I used to stay in the office for 12-14 hours daily, not to mention the amount of time I spent on my mobile phone when I was home. If “hardworking” had a face, that was definitely me. I had not been on a vacation for a good 5 years because I didn’t see the need for it. I would still be on my phone 24/7 if I was not physically present in the office so why take a vacation? I have had episodes of migraines every so often which I brushed off with Advil every time. These episodes became more frequent and more intense and Advil was not helping anymore. In 2018, I decided to finally take a break and my family chose to go to Japan for that much-needed vacation. The first day in a foreign land where English was not the first language, I had the most severe migraine that I had to stay in the hotel room for the whole time. On our third day, I was rushed to the hospital and a CT scan was performed. I was just given paracetamol and was advised to stay hydrated. However, the pain was not alleviated hence, my family brought me again to the hospital and the doctors performed the Magnetic resonance imaging procedure (aka an MRI) explaining that maybe there was something that the CT scan did not detect.
The MRI was still inconclusive so the doctors just advised me to continue on the medicines I had and to drink a lot of water. They wanted to do another procedure that involved dye to be injected in my veins to check if there were any blood clots however, we decided to then push back and have it done when we get home.
The challenges in communication in a medical emergency added to the stress I felt during that time. The 8 days that we were in Japan, I was not able to go anywhere except for the hotel where we stayed in and the 2 ambulance trips to the hospital. When we got home, we decided to go to the hospital from the airport, 2 CT Scans, and 2 MRIs after, the doctors’ advice was to stay hydrated, take paracetamol in case of pain and get a lot of rest. I took advantage of all the sick day credits and all the vacation leave credits I accumulated throughout the years and got to rest for 4 months with pay. I then rendered my resignation because I had finally realized what my mother has been repeating to me over and over through the years. To quote Michael J. Fox, “family is not an important thing. It is everything.”
I made the decision to take time off from all the stress from working in the corporate world and only work part-time for a few clients. I became very choosy as to the projects that I would take on and I concentrated on my kids. Brought them to school and picked them up every day. I learned to cook and practiced my baking skills again and I was just really taking my time recuperating from all the pain.
Around the same time, my sister, who also resigned from a multinational company, ventured into working from home and went all in on becoming a VA). This happened way before COVID and she kept on referring clients to me. I worked as her online virtual assistant which was perfect for me. I didn’t have to be away from my family but I was also able to support myself and my kids.
As I was still just leisurely passing the time, I only just took on 1 or 2 clients until she introduced me to Gloria Stitt, the founder-owner of Glam and Glo Shop, who seemed to be one of her VIP clients, as she often talks about her fondly. My initial task was Order Fulfillment as Gloria had just started her online store. I trained myself and eventually, became an expert on the ins and outs of the software that is linked to her website for order fulfillment. When an order comes in, it is my responsibility to make sure that the customer gets what he/she bought and ensure a good experience from the time the order was placed to delivery. Also, part of my responsibilities evolved into speaking with suppliers, ensuring that the quality of the items is maintained to its highest standards. Shipping times and packaging are also monitored. New as we are, the Glam & Glo Shop, has already encountered challenges, especially in shipping windows. Mainly due to COVID delays. The store offers free shipping on all orders via USPS, but USPS has been incredibly impacted by the pandemic.
One of the major considerations when choosing products, is the production and shipping windows that our partners can commit to. As we offer free shipping with no minimum order, we also want to make sure that we are able to ship the items within 24 hours from the time the order is placed. Factoring in the pandemic and all the challenges that come along with it, we were looking at a 2-week shipping window. However, one of our partners failed to deliver on time and because we wanted 100% customer satisfaction and could not afford any negative feedback this early in the business, Gloria exerted extra effort to appease the customer. Thankfully, the customer was understanding enough and gave us another chance.
Challenges like this are inevitable and with a strong background on Customer Service, I am glad that Gloria and I see eye-to-eye when it comes to customer relations. There is a genuine concern for the welfare of the customers and even if it means spending more, a good customer experience is a top priority. As a result, we have been getting repeat orders and messages telling us how grateful they are for a store like Glam & Glo Shop, where the customer is key and our goal is to provide what we refer to as Attainable Fashion.
The jewelry that we have in store is not only affordable but just as importantly, really good quality. They are hypoallergenic, lead and nickel free which are good alternatives for those who have sensitive skin. These are just a few things that I am proud of when it comes to working with Gloria. She has set the store up with the premise that the customer’s welfare is the topmost priority and along with that, she has committed to providing attainable fashion at a very reasonable price.
One of our bestsellers is the Colorful Crystals Starfish. As our product description says, it will make “even Spongebob look twice!” It is very elegant yet whimsical and is perfect to wear on any occasion. It has quickly become a best-seller, and thanks to all the feedback, we also now offer a Sterling Silver version of the item; not as big, a bit more delicate, and it’s just as beautiful.
The store has just finished its first 4th of July sale and is currently having a Sterling Silver sale. The 4th of July sale was such a success that we have decided to follow up with communications and offers to encourage more customers that being fashionable need not be expensive.
As we are relatively new in the business, we take pride in all the milestones that we are achieving, and just yesterday, we had an order growth of 300%, a significant increase than our current trend had been. This is a big win for us as it clearly shows that all our efforts are slowly paying off. Like Gloria, we are not in a “get rich instantly” mindset. We prefer to take things nice and slow, build a brand, create an experience that resonates with today's consumer and ensure that we set up everything correctly and course correct mistakes as we go.
Aside from the blessing of being able to work from home, not only amidst this pandemic but way before it began and not having to suffer what most are going through right now, I am truly grateful for my sister for introducing me to her VIP client. It has been some time now since we started to work together and although it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, we all have strong personalities and differing opinions, at the end of the day, we are assured of the genuineness, sincerity and respect each one of us has forother. Yes, we argue, and we have even created a “naughty corner” that we retreat to when necessary, however, the fun times always overpower the bad ones. Each one of us is set to reach a goal (both personally & professionally). I am exhilarated to be part of this startup online business as this is the first one I’ve ever been a part of that my virtual assistance heart truly believes in.
I hope you will take the time to look around the website and maybe treat yourself and a loved one to a product or two. In the words of Gloria, we look forward to aging fashionably with you through Glam & Glo..