Posts tagged team
Interview: Suzi
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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.)

Interview: Holly
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Our awesome photographer Dorothy stopped by the studio a few weeks ago to take our first official staff photos!

We've been through some transition this year (and lots of learning), so I thought this would be a great time to ask our lovely staff some questions for the blog - and let you get to know them! Our first interview is with Holly Power, my administrative assistant. Enjoy!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I get to field all incoming estimate requests, put together quotes, and set up client meetings. Essentially I'm the first "face" that new clients see. I also get to do some fun odd jobs that need doing! Sometimes I write snippets of copy, help upkeep the Etsy store, look for new shops that might be interested in carrying our products, etc...!

Q: What's the most common question you receive? Most people are looking for a quote for wedding invitations. Recently, I've had a lot of folks asking about the awesome book invitations from David and Micaline's wedding. Storybook weddings are a fun trend right now and a lot of people are really responding to that particular piece.

Q: You were a Literature major in college - how do you feel those skills help with your job now?
I wrote and read a TON in college, so I'm pretty good at coming up with words! For the most part, I enjoy the process of client communication, because I love using the right words to connect with people. A lot of my classroom time in college just looked like an open ended discussion about whatever material we were covering at the time. I learned a lot about choosing my words carefully to convey my point of view and I feel like I get to use that skill when answering client questions.

Q: Tell me about working remotely, being at home with your son. How's that transition been for you? What things do you love and what things are hard?
The transition was hard at first, but I am learning to really enjoy and cherish it. I love being able to work while Levi naps and then play with him while he's awake. A big challenge for me is in planning my day. If I don't use the time that he is napping wisely, my day quickly gets away from me without having met a lot of my goals. Or there are days where I am counting on getting certain things done and Levi decides not to sleep much at all that day. I'm learning a lot about planning my life in pencil! It's important to me that there is a plan in place, but just as important (for my sanity and my son's joy) that I can be flexible when my plans don't work out.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
That's a hard one because there are so many tasty places to eat here and it changes depending on my mood! Josh (my husband) and I have really been enjoying Billy Beach recently, which is a super delish sushi place in Ballard. They have an awesome happy hour so we can stuff ourselves on a budget. We don't get a ton of date nights with a new little one, so we're trying to make each one count by finding and trying new places more often!

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
I really like going to University Village in the U District. Parking is free and it's perfect for aimless wandering and window shopping and I love the open air. It's also really lovely at Christmas when all the trees are full of lights. Wrestling my baby boy in and out of my two-door rabbit wherever I go makes a no-hassle free parking garage a win in my book!

Our First Constellation Baby Shower!
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Hello friends! This weekend I had the pleasure of throwing a baby shower for my best friend (and administrative assistant) Holly!

I had a ton of fun organizing the party and pulling together all the details. The idea was to get dressed up and have a fun & classy "mocktail" party for the ladies. I stuck to a palette of classic yellow & gray for the party (the colors Holly chose for the baby's bedding) so she can use some of the decorations for the baby's alcove! (More to come on that later, Holly has a fun blog post planned.) Check out my Pinterest inspiration board to see how I started planning, and click "continue reading" for lots of photos of how the party turned out!

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Hand Lettering by Rosie of Songbird Paperie & Washi Tape by Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy

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Delicious Earl Gray & Lemon Cupcakes from Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co.

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Yummy mocktail recipes: here, here, and here.

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We picked up flowers from our local grocery stores, and stuck to a white & yellow palette to keep things cohesive. Our friend Lindsey did the beautiful arrangements!

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Paper straws by Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy

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We foil stamped the napkins in house with our vintage Howard Imprinting Machine. We've been doing a bunch of foil stamping lately, more to come on that soon!

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Holly with her new Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag!