If you’ve ever ordered from our online store, you’ve likely received a handwritten note from our Bakery team. But you might be wondering who actually writes those notes. Is it an intern? Is it someone baking your Seed Bars?
The woman behind those notes is actually our Fulfillment Supervisor, Nilza. She’s in charge of packing up hundreds of shipments every week, but still takes the time to write each customer a note. Even as we grow, that personal touch is something we will never lose because it’s ingrained in who we are.
Like many people on our Bakery team, Nilza was born in Cape Verde, an island off the coast of Northwest Africa. Before landing in Boston at age 17, she became fluent in English by taking advanced classes in Portugal. A few years after arriving in the US, her mother, who was already working on the 88 Acres Bakery team, recommended her for a job opening.
At first, Nilza was hesitant to take the job because of how many family members already worked for 88 Acres. She mentioned this concern during her interview with co-founder, Rob Dalton, who just smiled and reminded Nilza that his co-founder and CEO is also his wife. Working with family is our greatest asset.
Lucky for us, she took the job. Nilza started in the packing room, running the machine that wraps our Seed Bars and packing them into boxes. She then worked her way up to production: measuring and mixing dry ingredients and learning how to carefully prepare the Seed Bars for baking.
One of the things that struck our Operations Director, Brad Puglio, about Nilza was her attention to detail. He could see that she wasn’t just going through the motions of baking, she was careful and precise with each task. That’s why when an opportunity to move further up into the fulfillment department came up, Nilza was his first choice.
It was a natural fit, but being on a start-up team requires flexibility and diverse skill sets. So, after mastering fulfillment, Nilza’s eye for detail and inspiring work ethic was needed back in the production room, this time as a Floor Supervisor working alongside our Food Scientist. A few months later, she was back in the fulfillment department leading our team through the process of adding new flavors, new product formats and ultimately more complexity to our shipping process. Being one of the only people at the Bakery who is trained on every process from dry mixing to food science to shipping, Nilza is one of our go-to team members when we need an extra set of hands.
Today, order fulfillment is Nilza’s domain - she’s in charge of managing the inventory, maintaining the fast shipping times our customers enjoy, and being the point of contact for special requests (like shipping to Switzerland or sending snacks to a touring band’s next hotel). Yet she makes it look easy. The fulfillment area is her serene little corner of our otherwise loud and hectic Bakery. Nilza gets all the credit for creating this oasis. Her natural state of mind is steady and focused, which some might read as being shy, but that quiet power is how she got to where she is today.
Beyond excelling at the Bakery, Nilza was working hard to become a U.S. Citizen last year. The Bakery team quizzed her during their shifts and our co-founders sat down with her during breaks to help her study. In January, she passed her civics exam and is now officially a U.S. Citizen. This unstoppable motivation to succeed comes from her daughter, who just turned two.
Our policy has always been “family comes first,” even when the team has to work late. The team’s kids have come to the Bakery to hang out while their parents finish up. One of the reasons Nilza loves working at the Bakery is because “they understand that you have a family and that’s more important,” she says. She’s inspired by Rob and Nicole’s story and hopes that her daughter will grow up to be like Nicole, “always asking questions, always happy, never letting some bad news affect how she treats her team.”
QA/QC Director, Robert Newton with Nilza's daughter.
So what’s next for Nilza? Right now, the plan is to “keep growing with the company, keep learning more, and see how far it takes me.” We’re looking forward to that, too.