Today’s Notable Young Professionals are Jamie and Andrew Metrick of Elte, the 4th generation of their family furniture business. Though their choice to enter the business may have been decided before they even knew they had to choose a career path, both Jamie and Andrew approach every day with a refreshing enthusiasm and passion for their craft…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
J: General Manager + Buyer – Rugs and Carpet. Responsible for the rug and carpet department at Elte. Sourcing, developing and buying product from all over the world and then bringing it back to Elte to sell.
A: I’m the Furniture Buyer and General Manger at Elte. I travel the world, creating and collecting furniture to bring back to the store where we help customers express their individual styles within their homes.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
J: My brother and I are now the 4th generation in our family business (no pressure). We grew up in the business. We were in the store all the time as kids. We travelled abroad with our parents on buying trips and I worked in the warehouse throughout high school. It’s pretty much in our blood.
A: My brother and I grew up around Elte so our choice to enter the business may very well have been decided for us before we even knew we had to choose – but we couldn’t be happier
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
J: I’m obsessed with product. I love sourcing and developing textures, patterns and designs in rugs, then having the opportunity of showing these pieces to our customers.
A: The best parts of my day are when I walk through the store and see a piece of furniture that I probably spent months working on hit the floor for the first time. I don’t play it cool or hide my excitement very well. I take photos and bring whoever’s nearby to come look at it with me. The most challenging part would be the months it took to get it there.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
J: Probably when I have a hard time naming my other hobbies… I love what I do, and when I have spare time it’s often spent at the store
A: When it comes to work/life balance, I think too many people visualize it as something that you need to maintain every day of your life – an even keel, if you will. If you try to accomplish that, I promise you that you’ll fail. The reality it’s an ebb and flow. Some periods will feel overwhelming and others you’ll have time to do everything you want to and more. Take advantage of both: get work done when you have to and make time for things when the opportunity presents itself.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
J: Doing more of the same. Sourcing and developing the best product we can find from all over the world and then bringing it back and to show our customers in Toronto.
A: I’ll be doing what I’m doing today – only I hope to keep getting better. I consider myself a student of the industry I’m in so I intend to keep learning as much as I can and source the world’s finest home furnishings for our customers.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
J: Waking up every morning feeling excited for the day ahead.
A: Everyone has their own seemingly original but probably overly cliché answer to what success means to them, so I’ll bore you with mine. For me, success means getting to be creative. Almost every part of what I do at Elte allows me to be creative in some way and for that I consider myself extremely fortunate. I rarely ever get to quote Albert Einstein, but he once said “creativity is intelligence having fun” and I believe that to be true. In other words, if work is fun, I think you’ve hit the jackpot.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
J: The most memorable milestone is actually just about to happen. We are launching a new project this fall that we couldn’t be more excited about. Stay tuned for more details to come soon!
A: I’m a detailed person so there’s no one milestone that stands out above the rest but I can tell you that nothing beats spending months on a new design or collection, watching it hit the showroom floor, and then immediately seeing it find a place in homes across the city.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
J: I think passion is the key in whatever you do.
A: Seek out the opinions and the advice of the experts in your field – the people who have done it before and had their share of successes and failures. You’d be amazed how willing they are to pass on this information. There’s no sense in going into things blindly, so start connecting with these people now.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
J: I’m a huge (huge) Black Hoof fan. Also like their surrounding spots – Cocktail Bar and Rhum Corner.
A: Not an easy question, but I’ll impulsively say The Harbord Room. As for why, I’m sure anyone who’s had their burger can tell you.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
J: I’m a big food and drink guy. Love trying new restaurants (and do it way too often). I’m partial to spots in the West End of the city.
A: I spend most of my “me” time with friends and family. I love trying new restaurants and in a city like Toronto, I don’t think I’ll run out any time soon.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
J: I travel a lot for work to Nepal. I love it there. It’s just a total release from the world I have here.
A: Right now, I’d have to say Shanghai. I stop over there about three times a year and my favourite part is getting off the plane after a long flight and heading to the Compass Bar on top of the Peninsula Hotel. It overlooks the Huangpu River and Shanghai’s amazing skyline. Ask me this question next year, however, and I’ll probably have a new favourite.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
J: Don’t know! That’s why I’m keeping my head down and working hard. This is what I love doing and hope to be doing forever.
A: There’s no second occupation for my brother and I. We’re in this for the long haul.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
J: For the past five years we have been sponsoring a school as well as women’s empowerment center in India. It’s located in the rug weaving belt of India. I visit the school a couple times a year. It’s a great opportunity to give back to a community that’s given us so much.
A: I’ve started working on an environmental initiative that that I’m pretty excited about. I’m hoping to launch it in 201,5 but at this point I’m afraid that’s about as much I can share at the moment.
What to you is notable?
J: The whole concept of omni-channel retail. Customers are spending more and more time transitioning back and forth between in-store experience and the online experience. We’re launching a new website in the fall for Elte and Ginger’s. We’ve spent a ton of time on it and think it’s going to be absolutely awesome. We all really believe the key to retail in the future will be to create a seamless transition for the customer between in-store and online, and that’s the goal of this new website. Check it out (in the fall)!
A: Anything that’s different, genuine and has passion behind it.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Photo by Katherine Holland Photography