Hello from Upstate New York (way out in the sticks, basically) where my team and I are spending a little week together.

It’s fun to find ourselves all together in this big house. It’s kind of a dream to realize that, even after this extremely busy year, we’re all happy to get together and finally debrief to our heart’s content about all the things we’ve done – the things we did well, the things we didn’t do so well, the things we enjoyed, and the things we hated. And to be able to dream up what we’ll do with the year ahead. (Yes, for me, the new year has always started in September.)

It’s also a good time to talk about all kinds of other more personal things, from our hair problems to super detailed sex ed classes with Erik, our photographer and everyone’s guru, who also happens to be the only guy in a cloud of girls wearing bandanas.

Chris is also here with us, but hey, he’s taking golf lessons right now and only comes back for lunches and dinners – in other words, just to put things on the grill, which is apparently every guy’s favorite thing to do.

People often ask me how I go about managing a team… And, honestly, I don’t really know. I’m always delighted when people come to the Studio and tell me the ambiance is like a dream. You come in and it’s full of light, everyone is cool and funny and adorable… Sometimes even I have to pinch myself to believe it. To me, the people you work with are like a second family. We’re not necessarily the same, but we love and support each other.

I’m learning as I go, and Emily, my closest collaborator, and I, really try to think about how to do things our own way without following established guidelines. Here are a few things I’ve learned since I started working with a team.

– Things should always be clear from the beginning. For example, to me, the most important thing is making sure no one arrives at the Studio with bad vibes. Hard times can happen to any of us, of course. But there’s no justification for being gloomy, bad gossiping, or hiding away in a corner. I say that to everyone I hire, and I don’t hesitate to start a conversation if I notice any negativity. Talking about it helps resolve the issue right away. (If I could be that clear in my love life, that would be really great, hahaha)

– You have to trust each other and always assume that a mistake is nothing more than that: a mistake. It happens.

– There’s no point in pushing people too hard. I think people in New York work too hard as it is, as I’ve said before. Right now, at the Studio, we’re trying to reduce our work hours. But even so, we’re all so passionate about what we do that we work even when we’re not at work. So there’s absolutely no reason to tie people to their computers.

– Never, never, never raise your voice. It’s patronizing and humiliating.

– In the same spirit, I try to apply to others what I do myself. I don’t like working the same way every day and I don’t like people controlling what I do. I consider each member of the team to be independent, and as long as the work gets done, I don’t care when or where they do it.

– Every now and then, it’s important to drink margaritas all together. All night long :)

– The longer people stay, the better we get to know each other, and the better our work is. It’s important to stay aware, and to see how each person evolves, and direct them toward tasks that inspire them more. You have to recognize when someone has grown. (Emily, for example, has been working with me for four years, and she started as an assistant. Now she’s my business developer and I hope one day she’ll be my CEO!) Don’t confine people to what they do well. Push them to learn and grow.

– Sometimes “working” means laughing hysterically together.

– But you shouldn’t be afraid to part ways when things aren’t going so well. It’s really sad. But our paths might cross again one day! I try to make sure that, when someone has to go, it happens in a good spirit. I help them find another job, for example, and give them plenty of notice (in New York, you can be fired with only two weeks notice!!! Can you imagine how you must freak out?) so the change isn’t too abrupt. I want it to be a natural progression.

– Sometimes, the best ideas come from where you least expect them. You have to listen to everyone, interns included!

– No one is perfect, especially not me. I’m apologizing constantly, and try to take responsibility for my mistakes, and I make plenty. That’s how we all are at the Studio and, when someone makes a mistake, we support each other and try to find a solution.

– Having a small team is so magical! You can do things like go off to the countryside together!!!

So, there you go. I’m still learning every day. And I recognize how incredibly lucky I am to be able to make my own rules at work and to surround myself with people who inspire me. I was so afraid of the working world when I was a teenager, and now I realize how great and interesting it can be – a real human adventure!

What is your work life like? Do you enjoy it? Do you have any ideas about how we can work together better??? Big kisses from the whole team!

To see more of our retreat follow @studiodore and #GDTeamRetreat !

instagram Upstate team retreat Garance Dore studio photos

Translated by Andrea Perdue