Interview: Suzi

I have the distinct pleasure of working with my mom here at Constellation & Co. She’s been with us every step of the way, making sure our “books” are well tended.

When my family moved to Washington state from Florida, it was an easy choice to bring her into the office. I’m really lucky to get to spend this much time with my mom. She’s organized, professional, and fun to be around. And if someone says, “your mother doesn’t work here,” I can say: “mine does!” (This really happened once.) Today's interview is with our mom-ccountant and bookkeeper, Suzi Mantle!

Q: What is your role at Constellation? I started out as bookkeeper 3,000 miles away in Florida.  We moved to Washington 2 years ago and I continued working as bookkeeper on a monthly basis.  This past year I have taken on an additional roles setting up and maintaining raw, in-process and finished good inventories.  I also help maintain the Etsy store as well as package and ship product for both retail and wholesale customers.

Q: What is the craziest question or conundrum you’ve run into while working for Constellation? My biggest challenge while working for Constellation was morphing from mom to employee.  It was difficult at first leaving “mom” at home and showing up as “employee.”  It has been a good transition to help let Sara go as child and accept her as an independent grown-up!  I am thrilled to be working with her.  It is allowing me to watch her business grow and I am proud to take an active part in helping her along the way to success.

Q:  You’ve been a small business bookkeeper for almost 30 years - how do you feel those skills help with your job now, and what new skills are you learning? Having grown our own business from the ground up when we were in our 20s, I knew how important having a solid bookkeeping system was.  I also brought with me solid payroll and payroll tax, sales tax, business tax, and income tax experience.  The new skills I am acquiring all have to do with tech and computer stuff - you can teach an old dog new tricks, it just might take a while!

Q:  Tell us your #1 piece of advice for starting a small business (from a bookkeeper’s point of view). The number one investment should be a good accounting software program.  Most today are very easy to use even if you have no bookkeeping experience. I cannot stress enough - keep all your receipts and organize them from the beginning.  Enter them in your accounting program on a weekly if not daily basis.  Throwing them in a box to handle once a month or year will be a giant headache.  You can’t run a successful business if you don’t know where your money is coming from and where it is going to.

Q:  Tell me about moving from Florida to Washington State.  How’s that transition been for you? We came out to Washington in 2010 to visit Sara and Brad and fell in love with the area.  During that visit, we reconnected as family.  After we went back to Florida, we knew that we wanted to be closer to them and luckily they felt the same way!  We put our business up for sale In January and to our surprise it sold and closed in September.  We sold our house and packed up our belongings and before we knew it, we were starting a new year, 2012, in a very different climate!   We settled an hour from Sara & Brad not wanting to intrude on their day to day lives not knowing that a year later I would be driving that hour into Seattle several times a week to help out in the day to day at Constellation & Co.   I love the fall leaves, the glorious awakening of the flowers in spring, and summer weather cool enough to enjoy the out of doors.   I am adapting to the winter chill and looking forward to our new pellet stove this year!

Q:  What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle? I love Delicatus - they have such yummy sandwiches (The Californian is my favorite), the staff is so nice, and love reading all the cool and funny quotes around the walls.   The second favorite is Cow Chip Cookies - who doesn’t love a warm cookie fresh out of the oven.

Q: What’s your favorite place to shop in Seattle? I don’t usually have a chance to shop while I’m here in the city unless you count the post office which I frequent to ship out our wonderful products!  I enjoy walking in the city to the post office.

(A quick, practical addendum: We use Quickbooks for bookkeeping and Square for credit card processing. We ship using Etsy's in site tools and print labels on our new Dymo 4x6 label printer.)