“It is basic survival instincts as I love my business.” Caring deeply about the people she works with, she is also determined to keep them employed during these difficult times. “We are a family, we are a team,” says Susan. “One guy has been working with me for just over 30 years and most key people have worked with me for over ten years. I am not prepared to give up.”
Hiring and retaining good people while creating a culture where everyone is passionate about what they do, is important to Susan. However, her approach can sometimes seem a bit unconventional. “I have always believed that when you have great employees, they hang around great people,” says Susan.
Thirteen years ago, she put that theory to practice when looking for a new staff member. “I had lost my assistant and was at Holt Renfrew doing some retail therapy.” Susan knew the sales person, Kevin Mazzone, quite well. Although young, she had a tremendous amount of respect for him and figured he knew good people so she asked him if he knew anyone who might be interested in an entry-level position. According to Susan, his reply was “What about me?”
“I tried to discourage him as the pay was not great,” she said. “But he was insistent so I hired him.” Four years later, he became the General Manager at The Lazy Gourmet. Today, as well as being GM, he is also a partner with shares in the business. “Kevin is brilliant. I have been very fortunate and thank my lucky stars to have him as a partner and to be able to collaborate on ideas. I could not have done all of this without him.”