Jon Dean

An open letter to my coworkers

Aug 25, 2015

Dear fellow employees of Stitch Fix,

I have been working at Stitch Fix for just over three years. It’s the longest I’ve worked at any company. I’ve grown a lot in that time, some of it in my personal life and some of it thanks to this company and all of you amazing people who work with me there.

Most of the changes in my life in the last three years have been very happy. I got remarried and gained stepson. I bought a house.

I had some tough times too. My RSI got to the point where it affected both my ability to work and my mental health in a lot of ways. I had some periods where I was on my way to a bad place were it not for my amazing wife and the people I work with.

A couple of years ago, less than a year into my time here, I had such bad RSI pain that I physically couldn’t use a computer. We were very much a startup then. We still had a small team and I was the only engineer working on a pretty important project that was going to save us nearly my salary per month when complete. Working remotely, I was able to hide it at first but inevitibly it came out that I was having trouble doing my work.

That’s when I learned a lot about you, my co-workers, and in particular our leadership team. You were mad and I still have the emails to prove it. Not because I wasn’t working, but because I was still trying to.

…I really appreciate how hard you have worked to support Stitch Fix but that you should make sure that you are OK. Your health is the most important thing and not ops related projects.

You made it very clear to me that my value to the company was far more than any project and any amount of missed savings. You told me that this money was a temporary pain but that I was of permanent value to the team. You were invested in me for the long haul and it didn’t matter how much time it took for me to get better. I had to get healthy and there was no other option. You let me know that I was not replaceable. You told me that I shouldn’t dare try to write a line of code until I am well again.

I’m still a bit shocked to read that after all of this time. I hadn’t even been at Stitch Fix for a year yet. How did you know I was going to be valablue to the team long term? I was one guy on the other side of the country that wrote code. That’s replaceable, right? But that’s not the Stitch Fix culture. That’s the kind of value each employee has. And I’m happy to say I still feel that same value today.

It’s more than just being good people though. You have taken chances on me too and that has helped me grow tremendously. Like that time I wanted to hire more people over here on the other side of the country but had never actually managed a team. (Actually, it didn’t even come up that I hadn’t done it before, because it didn’t matter.) You trusted me to do it. You didn’t hold my hand, you gave me little pushes from behind when I asked. I learned, I grew, I became more confident because of it. Great ideas at Stitch Fix are valued, not the job title of the person who has them.

Now I’m building a new team here at Stitch Fix and my first hire started this week. I was so excited to talk about his orientation and having gotten a chance to meet more of you. I talked his ear off for hours, as you know I can be quite good at, until I’m sure he was exhausted. But that’s the kind of person you have now. Ever loyal, ever trusting, ever excited.

I’m looking forward to the next three years.

Sincerely,

Jon in PQ

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