The boys of Queer Eye are eagerly anticipating Season 6, but the creators of the smash Netflix reboot (Scout Productions) are launching a brand new transformation series to pull at your heart strings and make you cheer on the subjects from your couch. Werrrk! follows three charismatic experts (Mat Sanders, Theodore Leaf and Misti Cain -aptly titled the “WerrrkForce”) as they consult with struggling small LA businesses (Bella Doña, Pasquini Coffee and Tailwaggers Dog Grooming among others) helping overhaul their management styles, redesign the work spaces, and at times, the employees themselves.
The series features twelve episodes that are each twenty five minutes or less. The program airs on Mailchimp Presents, where viewers can stream Werrrk! completely free of charge, without ads, and without a login or subscription. As Werrrk! prepares to drop on Mailchimp, I caught up with each member of the cast who gave me a sneak peek at how they’re particular talents and style meshed with their cast members and they gave me some specialized tips direct from the experts.
Michael Cook: What design tricks were you able to implement for these businesses? Any inspirations that came to you during quarantine?
Mat Sanders: Bringing a brand’s energy to life in a space allows me to stretch my imagination and implement big concepts. For a dog groomer, I imagined a K-9’s happiest place on earth: the backyard of a fabulous modern farmhouse. I also transferred the industrial space of a high-end espresso machine company into a multi-functional, modern Italian train station, and brought the LA skyline to life in the office of a streetwear brand whose identity is inspired by the West Coast’s energy. All the rules for design have changed in quarantine. Designing for business is now all about making people feel comfortable, happy, and designing for efficiency of transaction. Functional elements like signage, partitions, flow management, and floor guides have become crucial parts of spatial design. I’m experimenting with all kinds of ways to make these feel natural and fun!
Michael Cook: What lifestyle changes were you able to help some of your subjects make, your experience is so vast so you were probably able to help them in different ways, correct?
Theodore Leaf: In working with our business owners, I was able to highlight different opportunities for change that can make a great impact both in and out of work. Who you are at home, can’t help but seep into your professional life? While working with the Pasquini family, we sent Guy on a scavenger hunt of sorts, where he had to use his phone the whole time and post on social. Once he experienced how people use social in their day to day lives, he understood how helpful it would be to expand their customer base. His big lifestyle change was to no longer act like ‘the guy that doesn’t get social media’ and become an asset in marketing the company.
The Bella Dona team needed help defining their roles in their business. Everyone seemed to be doing everything and they couldn’t see how ineffective that was until we got them out of their element and into the woods-yes really! We staged a hike that they had to complete using only a map and a compass. This forced the leaders to delegate responsibilities and showed them how they tend to step in too often before their team members have a chance to problem solve. In the end, we all made it to our destination and the team learned a new way to help each other. They decided to make team building offsite experiences a regular thing to strengthen their communication skills and have fun! Todd from Tailwaggers is so committed to trying to keep his business afloat he gave himself zero time for self care. I was able to show him how important it is to take care of himself first, not only to feel better, but to make a strong impression at work. The look on his face after we cut his hair and put him into some fresh clothes said it all. He felt lighter and looked more like a business owner than an employee. Once he got a taste, he understood how important it is to take time to invest in himself.
Michael Cook?: You are a small business guru; best advice for small businesses in a COVID-19 world on how to survive?
If you aren’t already, post-COVID your marketing and messaging are going to need to be more authentic and personable. There’s a big shift to “being in this together” and supporting each other. Tone-deaf, copy and paste marketing tactics simply won’t cut it. To do this well: Create a brand voice. How you speak to your customers’ needs to be consistent and human. So give your brand a personality; whether that personality is more casual, humorous, or serious is up to you. Ensure any communication your customers see, hear, or receive all have that same consistent voice and brand message. If people are confused about who you are, they’ll be less likely to engage with you. When communicating with customers, understand that different segments of the population will have different experiences. Understanding this will help you steer clear of offensive or short-sighted messaging. Adding on to the above point, one marketing tactic that will never go out of style is finding ways to get to know your customers better. Surveys and customer interviews can be helpful here. And while there are ways to automate this process, you may find greater benefit in manually/personally reaching out to a few highly-engaged and under-engaged customers. This will allow you to get greater insight into their concerns, likes, and dislikes and how you can adjust your marketing and messaging to better reach them
Werrrk! is available now on Mailchimp Presents