Startup Stories: Q&A With Thrive Market Office Coordinator Kesha McNairFebruary 19th, 2020
Welcome to Startup Stories, a series that takes you behind the scenes to share what working at a startup is really like. Our mission at Thrive Market is simple: to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. But fulfilling our big dreams takes a team of dedicated, inspiring, funny, and tenacious people who show up to work every day eager to make a difference.
Today, we’re introducing you to Kesha McNair, our Office Coordinator. Read on to get to know her and learn about her experience working for the People Ops team.
Let’s start with the basics! Tell us about your current role at Thrive Market.
I’ve been with Thrive Market for nearly five years. I was hired by Member Services, but recently transitioned to the People Ops team to become the Office Coordinator. It’s been such a journey! My new role is great and definitely aligned with my background in customer service. Now, instead of serving our Thrive Market members, I’m serving the people at home office. And let me tell you—I’m a beast at serving customers! I just love it. It gives me the opportunity to get creative, while also assisting other Thrivers. I love being resourceful and helping people with their events and clubs.
Tell us about the transition from Member Services to People Ops?
It was bittersweet because Member Services is like a family. We roll tight. But, the transition has been smooth. I work with a great team now. I’ve always been an independent worker—even in Member Services—so I like that in my new role, I can focus on what I’m doing while also collaborating with my team members. It all goes back to my love for being helpful and resourceful to others.
What’s your favorite part about the new role?
I get to meet new people everyday—other Thrivers and people visiting the office. I appreciate that they’re in-person interactions after all the phone conversations I had while working for Member Services. I was an entrepreneur for 11 years before coming to Thrive Market, so I learned the importance of being face-to-face from that. You develop real, personal relationships that are so crucial.
An entrepreneur for 11 years? Wow! Tell us more about that.
I was born and raised here in Los Angeles, specifically Ladera Heights. I graduated from Susan Miller Dorsey High School and attended Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, where I earned my degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business Development. I started my own live/work boutique as a sophomore in college called Dymond Wayz. It was in a loft, so the boutique was on the first floor and I lived above it. I was doing everything from mobile retailing to working trade shows.
What was it like to own your own business?
It was the best time of my life. I had my own billboards two blocks away from my store. I was also doing image consulting with hop-hop artists in Atlanta. Business was doing really, really well. I was hustling and I was successful. I felt like I was on top of the world.
But then, the 2008 recession hit. I experienced bankruptcy, losing both my business and the first home I’d ever owned. I fought for four years before bowing out gracefully. I was pregnant at the time with my daughter, Zoe. I knew I wanted to raise my family in Los Angeles. As high and low as my entrepreneurial journey was, the ending made it clear that it was time for a transition. So I returned home to start again.
How was it leaving Atlanta?
I was feeling really homesick during the 11 years that I lived in Atlanta. My homecoming to Los Angeles was liberating because I knew I was embarking on the greatest journey of my life in becoming a mother. Zoe is what I’m most proud of.
When I came back, I lived with my sister in Long Beach because she was the only family member who was still in Los Angeles. Once I had Zoe, I moved to Orange County.
At that time, I’ll be honest with you, I experienced homelessness. My daughter was only eight months old and we were living in a motel. When you go from being 25 years old, owning your own business, making $125,000+ a year, and feeling like you’re on top of the world to being 31 years old with a newborn and nowhere to go—to say it was a difficult time barely scratches the surface of how I was feeling. But I did what I had to do. I connected with a woman who owned three facilities for developmentally disabled adults. I started working as a Direct Support Personnel, making $8 an hour. This job, and the owner, helped me get back on my feet. She gave me a down payment for an apartment, gave me a job, and I worked hard. I did that for 10 months, but always wanted to get back into fashion. I moved to downtown Los Angeles to work in the fine jewelry department at Macy’s. That’s when I heard about Thrive Market. I had a friend working in Member Services at the time, and he referred me to the team. I had a 15-minute interview, and a day later, I was hired.
Your story is so inspiring and you’ve come so far. How does all of this feel?
Surreal. I’m proud, grateful, and thriving. Everyone has their own experience—no matter where they come from. We’re all in this together.
Having worked in fashion for many years, what was it like transiting into the food industry?
I’ve learned so much about so many different diets. When I started, I had no idea what a GMO was! It began to change my grocery shopping habits. I began reading labels and started buying only organic food. In a way, food is aligned with fashion because if you eat well, take care of yourself, and make conscious decisions, you’re going to look and feel your best. I’m also more conscientious about how I spend my money. For example, I might buy a vegan leather purse instead of a leather purse now. Little things like that—thinking about the environment and being a bit more mindful about my purchases.
What initially drew you to Thrive Market?
Curiosity. I’ve always had an interest in living a healthier lifestyle. And I actually learned about the Thrive Gives program before I knew what the whole business was. I gravitated toward Thrive Market’s mission and also wanted to work for a start-up because I liked the idea of working for someone else’s entrepreneurial endeavor. I also knew I’d be able to spruce up my computer and people skills.
And then I came here and fell in love with it.
What’s the best part about working at Thrive Market?
Knowing that I’m a part of the mission. I enjoy serving the community, so I make an effort to attend as many volunteer events as I can. I’m proud to say that I was on Thrive Gives’ first Mission Task Force! But I also love working in People Ops because I get to help make the office a happy place.
Which of the four Thrive Values—Think Big, Member First, Tenacity, and Authenticity—do you gravitate towards the most?
My favorite quote is: “Ambition without authenticity spoils the riches.” It means that you can pursue your ambitions and become very successful, but if you’re not authentic, you will not be a happy person. It’s the same as “money is the root of all evil” and “more money, more problems.” If you’re not authentic in your approach, it’ll impact everything.
What inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle?
Having a clear mind. Mental health is so important to me. And I know that if I’m physically healthy, my mental health will follow. I also want to instill healthy habits in my daughter, my family, and my community.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy altering vintage fur coats—everything from re-styling to re-designing to ethically re-selling them.
I also love spending time with my Zoe, who’s eight years old now. She’s really into acting and modeling and just graduated from Barbizon, a modeling and acting school. She’s been in one small film that they’re hoping to get on Netflix! We’re constantly practicing monologues at home. It lights her up.
What’s one thing you want others to know about Thrive Market that they might not learn from ordering, reading the blog, or visiting the website?
I know that my fellow Thrivers really care about me and my family. They care about my well-being. We’re a community of caring people. I’ve lived the entrepreneurial life, breaking the glass ceiling and making it on my own. I’ve done it and it’s great. I was always hesitant to join corporate America because of the bad reputation it has, but Thrive Market changed my views. It proved to me that you can have a 9-to-5 and feel good about it. You can come to work and find joy.
Thrive Market has given me a positive outlook on corporate settings. It has helped me appreciate structure, employee levels, and teamwork. We believe in working for the common good and share common goals.
Last but not least, what’s your favorite Thrive Market product and why?
My favorite is Thrive Market Nutritional Yeast. I saw it in the employee kitchen, read that it’s high in vitamin B12, and have been putting it on everything!
And what about Zoe, what’s her favorite product?
Zoe’s favorite item is our cinnamon applesauce. It’s a good snack. She’s also a huge fan of our jellies. She’ll literally make jelly sandwiches—no peanut butter or almond butter. I’ve been trying to get her to eat almond butter, but the girl just loves her jelly sandwiches.