There has been a certain amount of growth and reflection the team at Melvin Brewing has done in the past year. We’ve taken on storms, made huge achievements and weathered whatever comes our way week to week. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, we decided it was a great opportunity to kindly introduce you to one of the many women that currently work for Melvin Brewing and give her a chance to speak from the heart, candidly:
What is your name?
Melissa aka Ksliss
What position do you hold at Melvin?
Tell us about some of the exciting things you do for Melvin Brewing, or how your role is critical to the success of the company…
There’s never a dull moment working on the pubs project! My role puts me on the road most of the time, working (and living) out of our brewpubs and my (barely) converted Sprinter van in WA, CA, WY and everywhere in between. I work in tandem with my partner in crime, Sir Jamesworth McNugglestein (aka Jamie Morris) to bring the madness and magic of Melvin to each of our locations. Being a two (wo)&man team with very active roles in running two (soon to be three) pubs is a tall task. We have to play off each other and constantly be willing to change gears, become creative problem solvers, and provide leadership from afar. Without our ability to work so seamlessly together and the unbelievable management staff we’ve been able to hire along the way, these projects just wouldn’t be possible. The ability of everyone in this company, from top to bottom, to be able to share their passions and support each other both professionally and personally is the real reason Melvin continues to thrive and succeed. Let’s be real, if the ones you work with don’t become some of your dearest friends, you’ve missed the boat!
Why do you work for Melvin Brewing? How does this company and your job fuel you?
Honestly, I had no interest in getting back in the beer industry after I left my short 4-year career in 2016. After a year sabbatical traveling around SE Asia “looking” for jobs with the UN also known as climbing rocks, turning in the occasional resume, and working manual labor on a friends organic farm (shout out to my girl Tarie for being a complete and total badass for starting her own business SOLO in Thailand!!), my funds ran out sending me back state side. Since most avenues to get your foot in the door doing Humanitarian work are unpaid (I know, shocking) I had to turn some fast cash… and that’s when I heard Melvin was opening a spot in WA. Being the selfish traveler/climber/snowboarder I am, I jumped on the opportunity to work in one of my favorite places on earth with one of my favorite breweries on earth! I figured this would be a short stint as I could still have fun, drink (I mean serve) world class beers and stack paper to pursue my dreams of serving others who aren’t as fortunate as I’ve been lucky enough to be my entire existence. Two years later, and I still work for Melvin because they’ve given me the rare opportunity to combine my biggest passions in life: travel, adventure sports and giving back. A huge part of my job is marketing and event planning for our brewpubs and in that we work with a TON of local partners and nonprofits to both raise awareness and give financial support to the organizations (and people) who give their time and talent to others so selflessly. That alone makes me excited to help grow this aspect of the business. Knowing that beer can be a platform to create awareness and positively impact all the communities we become a part of is truly awesome and SO inspiring!
Explain two of your biggest accomplishments/proudest moments in 2018
I’ll be honest, 2018 really challenged my perspectives and inner being after what will forever be seared in my mind as “March 8th”. After the truly unfortunate events that happened in Bellingham and on our website, my boss quit and I was asked to take on the role of General Manager (in Bellingham). Ultimately, this meant I would have to become Melvin’s voice in a very tight-knit community that I wasn’t a “local” in. I was in a space where people immediately judged my character and fueling their anger and hatred of what happened towards myself and our entire local staff. As a strong pro-woman female in the industry in the midst of the #metoo movement and call out culture, I had to decide if this was a fight I was willing to fight. This took some serious soul searching. I saw real hate from complete strangers, had my life threatened and was forced to relive some of my own personal trauma (along with other staff, both male and female) who opened up to me about horrific things that happened to them in their past. How could I carry their burdens and my own? How could I support our team as individuals in their work and personal lives? How can I open my heart up to a community that does not want me to be a part of it? In my soul, I knew the answer. I firmly believe that humans (and businesses because they’re comprised of humans) always have the ability to learn, adapt, grow and make positive changes for themselves and the world around them as long as they choose to. Things happen in life and people immediately label them: good or bad. Was what this individual did and the copy on our website inherently bad? Absolutely. Does the story end there? It could, but I knew Melvin’s wouldn’t. The sincerity, passion, support and love I’ve always seen from the entire Melvin family gave me hope that every individual as well as this business would use this opportunity (yes, I said opportunity) to become stronger, more aware and more compassionate towards others. I had to have hope, because hope never fails.
From that moment on, I decided I wasn’t going to let others define me, shake my belief in humanity, or how deeply I felt about the individuals I work and share my life with. I was going to combat hatred with love; I was going to help be a catalyst to transform a negative situation into one of learning, growth, positivity and light within our entire organization! (yep, I like to take on seemingly impossible challenges, always!!) Therefore, three of my biggest accomplishments in 2018 were 1) meeting individuals face to face who bullied us on the internet and in real life (yes, this call out culture can and does create an atmosphere for bullying), 2) showing myself as well as others forgiveness and grace on their journeys to self-discovery and enlightenment and 3) getting to meet and work side by side with some of the most incredibly beautiful people and organizations who risked their own reputations because of their unwavering dedication to their missions and the idea that change is possible by working together not against one another.
How have you witnessed the company grow/transform since last year (as it relates to culture/empowerment/respect, etc.)?
Wow, that’s a big question! I’ve watched every. single. person throughout the entire Melvin organization be affected by everything that happened at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. I can say with full confidence that not a single individual didn’t take this situation seriously or to heart. From the outside, this is something you really had to read between the lines to see. Our many attempts at apologies fell to scrutiny and were perceived to be inauthentic and lacking in sincerity. Being on the other side, I have to say that it felt nearly impossible as a person and an organization to put ourselves out there in a way that conveys our integrity and sincerity when people have already passed their judgement. Everyone wanted to see an immediate change, not realizing that true, lasting change is a process that takes thoughtfulness and time if you truly mean it. With that preface, I will say that in my 32 years of life, I’ve never witnessed a group of humans come together with the genuine desire to help, support and empower one another on their own personal and professional journeys, free of judgement, like I have at Melvin. Everyone opened their hearts, minds and put complete trust in one another (i.e. vulnerability, which is the hardest thing to do) in hopes that it would make ourselves and ultimately our organization a more inclusive, open and safe space for everyone, not just within our company, but within every community we interact with. This process is ongoing, and I cannot speak for each individual at Melvin, but I’ve definitely witnessed immeasurable growth of individuals in our company that push us closer to Melvin’s dream of acceptance and supporting everyone we encounter to pursue their lifes’ passions. I’m incredibly grateful and honored to share this space in time with my co-workers who also double as some of my closest friends and family.
On the practical, more tangible side of the coin, there is and has been a ton of organizational development taking place. Here’s the reel from 2018 until now:
-Melvin instituted company-wide anti-harassment policies and training. This process is not stagnant as our company works with outside professionals who keep us informed about cutting edge research and how we can evolve our current practices.
-Melvin sent the individual accused of sexual harassment to treatment and shortly after parted ways with him so he as well as the organization could transform in a healthier environment.
-Everyone in Melvin’s top management teams (including owners) took part in a seminar to understand how our roles in leadership drives an organization’s company culture. The extremely seasoned and talented business coach Jim Bergquist guided us through this journey and made us take a hard look within so we could evolve and move forward (thank you to our partners at Brigid Collins in Bellingham for introducing him to us!).
-We work with several different outside sources to interview businesses and individuals we worked with in the past or present as well as people within the organization to better understand our company’s culture and how our actions in the field stack up to our company’s values. This information (which is confidential) is used to help guide us in strengthening our policies and training company wide.
My hope is that many of these processes I mention above continue throughout the years to come as they have been invaluable in understanding others’ perspectives and pushing Melvin to continuously improve!
What are you looking forward to in 2019? Goals/New ideas?
I’ll keep this short since the rest of my answers were crazy long! In 2019, I look forward to watching Melvin and all the individuals within continue to flourish and thrive. I’m also really psyched on the opportunity to work with Eli (our new pub brewer for Eureka) and Tofte to develop a new aspect of our brand within the sour and barrel aged program. The creativity, exploration and self-expression within these styles of beer is what initially drew me to the industry and keeps my love for craft beer alive!
A word from Jessica, our Bellingham Brew Pub General Manager:
Melvin Brewing Bellingham thanks the community of Bellingham for it’s continuous support. We are thankful for the feedback and the willingness to allow us to transform from the experiences over the last year. After a year of reflection, we felt it was important to share the insights of one of the pivotal women at both Melvin Brewing Bellingham and Melvin Brewing who guided us to evolve. As someone who has been invested in the community of Bellingham for over 11 years, I really thank the community, Melvin Brewing and my friend Melissa for the opportunity to grow my career in this wonderful place. My love and passion for beer has been ever growing and allowed to thrive thanks to a town that prides itself in craft beer! The community of Bellingham is extremely important to us. It is where we all began. So, without further adieu, cheers to you Bellingham! So much love for what you offer and provide. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts over a beer, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to take a look at our most recent community-wide efforts, please see documents linked below: