Team Highlights

We want Oxford Exchange to be a place, put simply, where community happens; this community also includes our talented and hardworking team. Through Team Highlights, we are showcasing our team members from all departments. We hope you enjoy meeting the team, as much as we enjoy showing them off! 
 
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." -- Helen Keller

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Kelli

Restaurant - Server, Lead

How did you start at OE?

My old roommate worked here and told me it was an amazing place to work, so I applied.

If you didn’t work in The Restaurant, where would you work?

Probably with payroll. I went to school for accounting. I love dealing with numbers and money. I get a lot of pride from being trusted to deal with money.

What’s your favorite customer story?

There’s so many. I think the basis of all my favorite stories is when I have tables I can relate to — we laugh and have a great time. I take a lot of pride when they tell me it was all amazing — from food to service to atmosphere. It makes me feel good to work here. I also love when I meet people from my home town of Virginia Beach. One lady went to the same high school I did and even had the same English teacher. That was really fun.

What’s your favorite dish?

The grilled steak salad. Hands down. The way the dressing gets down into the salad and blends. And the hot, crispy potatoes that are almost like little croutons. It blows me away.  But that Key Lime Pie is also creeping its way to the top of the list….

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I don’t know; I’m a pretty open book. Some things people don’t know about me: I work with a lot of disabled people because I have a relative with disabilities. My dad’s a retired SEAL, so I do some work with the UDT-SEAL Association. I play the piano. I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve told many people these things.

What’s your crazy dream?

Really literally, there’s this crazy dream I have all the time. I always dream I have to go to work, but I just can’t get it together. I don’t have a uniform; I get to work late; I walk-in to 6 or 7 large tables with no one to help. It never ends well. Deep down these are probably my subconscious fears. It hasn’t happened yet, but these are things I worry about happening at work.

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Stacy

Parking - Attendant

How did you start at OE?

Craigslist. Actually, it’s really weird. I just ended my business, and I wanted a job outside that I could walk to. Everyone laughed at me, but then I saw the ad and applied here.

If you didn’t work in parking, where else would you work? 

Almost any spot. I’ve pretty much done everything in there in some form, so it all interests me. Except Buddy Brew — I’m really bad at making coffee!

What’s your favorite customer story?

I don’t know if I have a single favorite, but we have so many great customers. They tell us so many great things, so I feel like we have a rapport. Of course, Coach and Tim are here almost every day. I feel like the days go by so fast because everyone is so nice.

What’s your favorite OE item?

I’ve got to say, my daughter and I chow down on the chicken burger and the flat breads. And the coffee and tea is to die for. And the books — so great! And the sunblock from Aesop. What’s not to love?

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

Probably that I’m a sports maniac — to the point where it’s a little obsessive. I love my Yankees and tennis. I used to play tennis. And my Giants.

What’s your crazy dream?

I would love to be a house boat flipper. I don’t know why, when we live in Tampa Bay and have such great weather, that we don’t have house boats. I feel like all Channelside and downtown would be perfect for house boats — kind of a Seattle thing. It could be really eclectic and fun. I’d love to design them.

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Camrin

Buddy Brew Coffee - Barista

How did you start working at Buddy Brew at Oxford Exchange?

I moved here for school. Prior to moving here, I really loved the atmosphere of Oxford Exchange, and I had a background in coffee. This is the perfect fit, and it’s right across the street from school.

If you didn’t work at Buddy Brew, where would you work?

Maybe the tea bar. Because I love tea, as well. All the girls who work there look so happy — and they get to wear the cute dresses and the cute aprons, too.

What’s your favorite customer story?

That’s tough. This isn’t about just one customer, but for me, if it’s if someone comes in who doesn’t know what they want. You walk them through it until you get them to the perfect drink that they’ll really enjoy. And it’s fun educating people who don’t really know a lot about coffee.

What’s your favorite drink?

The iced cappuccino with almond milk. I don’t do dairy; I think it tastes weird.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I have my private pilot’s license (I got it in January). I’ve loved flying since I was a little kid; no one in my family flies, but my mother was very supportive. I think she figured I can’t get in too much trouble this way. I don’t do it as much as I wish I did — school’s my priority here.  When I go home to Melbourne, I fly a lot. I have to learn the air space here.

What’s your crazy dream?

I really want to go back-packing across Europe. I’m going to Amsterdam for a week — I found good fares on Skyscanner and it's my first trip alone. Either that, or live in a house plane — like a house boat — I’ve got to figure out how to do that.

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Rachel

Oxford Creative Studio - Designer & Illustrator

How did you start at OE?

It was a little under three years ago. I started working as a Bookstore salesperson — I love books, so when I got a job standing around all day selling books, it was a dream job. I started helping in The Shop and then I helped with online when Jade was out. Creative needed an office assistant and Sarah Dyles knew I had a creative background, so she brought me in to help out just to get my foot in the door. I started pitching in wherever I could and it became a full-time role.

If you didn’t work in Oxford Creative Studio, where would you work?

I’d probably be back in The Bookstore. It has a special place in my heart — you get to talk to people and get insight into the literature they like. I like that I started in The Bookstore because you get to meet all the people in the building and really get to know the guests. In Creative, we can kind of be off in our own world sometimes.

What’s your favorite client story?

That’s a hard one. There’s been a lot. We had this client come in — she does interior photography and prints. I felt like I got her immediately. We presented two different brand concepts to her and I was really nervous about whether she would like it. She came up to me later and thanked me — she had been so worried about trusting someone with her story. Now she’s confident that we’ll tell her story going forward. We don’t always get that personal feedback. It was my first big project and it was very personal for her — her blood, her sweat, her tears.

You’ve worked in so many places at Oxford Exchange. What is one of your favorite things?

I love so many things. This is kind of funny, but I have my own drink at Buddy Brew — they call it The Rachel. Now everyone on the Creative team orders it — an iced cappuccino with light simple syrup. I love how everything in The Shop has a story. I used to love telling the Cire Trudon story, or the Astier story. Everything is there for a reason and has a heart to it. Now that I’m in Creative, I appreciate the branding behind everything.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

Does my degree count? I majored in oil painting. I didn’t even know that was possible until I was in college for fine arts. I studied every kind of art growing up and my passion is oil painting. I got to do the oil paintings for The Peabody — it was like, “Yes! I get to use my degree.” I’m not good at anything else. Art’s my one thing.

What’s your crazy dream?

I think to one day have art hanging in a gallery. I don’t know that I want to be a full-time artist — maybe — but I’d like to have a show in a gallery. That dream’s kind of being realized with The Peabody. I don’t need to be the next Vincent Van Gogh, but I’d like to be in people’s homes, touching people’s hearts.

Fun Fact: Rachel is the illustrator of the Oxford Exchange Postcard that can be found in The Shop & The Bookstore, as well as online!

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Kassandra

The Restaurant - Server Lead

How did you start at OE?

I had just moved down here from Alabama and I was going to USF. My cousin knew the opening manager here, so I got an interview and got hired. The Conservatory was still under construction when I interviewed; they were working around us. That was a noisy interview.

If you didn’t work in the Restaurant, where would you work?

That’s an easy one. I’m a book nerd, so I would totally work in The Bookstore. I’ve always wanted to work some shifts there, but I’ve never had the chance.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I don’t have a favorite customer story, but I do have a favorite customer. She’s just a sweet lady. Ever since I was a hostess, she goes out of her way to say “hi” to me and introduce me to whoever is with her. Such a sweetheart.

What’s your favorite dish?

I bet you get this one all the time — the chicken burger. I get it for lunch at least three times a week. I don’t know what I love about it. The feta? The tomato? All of it.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

Well, I’m adopted. I guess no one would know that. My grandma raised me and adopted me when I was twelve.

What’s your crazy dream?

I’m in the healthcare world. I want to cure the world of addiction. It’s a disease, and I’m tired of it — especially the opiod epidemic. It affects not just your family, but the whole community. Every paper I write comes back to addiction somehow; I bet my professors are tired of it by now.

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Regina

TeBella Tea Co. - Tea-rista

How did you start at OE?

Actually, my boyfriend was always getting tea at the tea counter, and he told me there was a job opening. I applied with Abigail and here I am.

If you didn’t work at TeBella, where would you work?

I would say either Warby Parker, because I’m blind with no sense of fashion and they could help me, or the Bookstore.

What’s your favorite customer story?

One of my favorites was this girl who was an international student touring UT. She didn’t speak a lot of English, but she was sitting at the counter asking us questions.  She took the book for customer’s emails and flipped to a new page and sketched out Oxford Exchange and what she was seeing. It was so neat that she really took in the experience and translated it down on paper.

What’s your favorite tea?

It changes all the time. I would say the iced blueberry pomegranate with a little bit of agave. That one’s nice — it’s refreshing and clean.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I’m technically a published writer. I had a poem published when I was 10. It’s a funny story — I have no idea where it was published. My teacher submitted the poem and I got a letter that said my poem was being published, but I don’t remember where and I threw the letter away.

What’s your crazy dream?

My crazy dream is to practice as a psychiatric nurse while sipping tea and having no regrets. I’m gonna make it crazier — and speak it into existence — be a psychiatric nurse and then become a lawyer.

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Mina

The Bookstore - Sales Associate

How did you start at OE?

I was looking for a job and saw it on UT’s Career Services page. I thought I was interviewing for the Shop at first — I didn’t even realize there was another side to the building and the Bookstore was a separate space. I told the person in the Shop I was here to interview for the Bookstore and she looked at me kind of funny and sent me to the other end of the building. It turned out to be even better than I thought it was going to be.

If you didn’t work in the Bookstore, where would you work?

Definitely Buddy Brew. I’m seriously obsessed with coffee.

What’s your favorite customer story?

It’s not really a story, but I think my favorite part is seeing people who come in for the first time and are really into books. You can tell the ones who are really enamored with literature and books.

What’s your favorite book?

So, my favorite books are The Chronology of Water and Binary Star. I carry them around with me everywhere. When I read The Chronology of Water, I cried a lot, and I can read it over and over and it never gets old.  And when I read Binary Star, it helped my writing, so it’s important to me.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I did competitive gymnastics when I was little. I trained 5 days a week, 2-3 hours a day, and I was dead set on going to the Olympics. But then we moved when I was 9 or 10 and there wasn’t a good gym where we moved. I was really mad at my mom for a long time!

What’s your crazy dream?

I would love to be a flight attendant, but I'm too short. I love traveling, and I really love airports and being on planes. I fly a lot and I always get very excited — it’s always been very comfortable for me. It’s just this big hunk of metal, and it can take you anywhere in the world. It’s amazing.

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Christina

Oxford Design Studio - Designer

How did you start working at Oxford Design Studio (OXDS)?

Such an odd answer, but it was seriously fate. My husband (fiancé at the time) and I have coffee dates every Thursday morning before work. We go to Oxford Exchange a lot and we happened to be sitting upstairs, just in awe of how the light comes into the space in the morning. I remember saying, “why can’t I just work here? It’s so inspiring.” That weekend, I was looking online for a design firm who was hiring and right at the top, Oxford Design Studio had an opening for a designer. I applied immediately, interviewed, and here I am!

If you didn’t work in OXDS, where would you work?

I would work in Private Events. I planned my wedding, which happened to be at Oxford Exchange last October, and completely fell in love with the process. The little details that create a personal touch, the thousands of spreadsheets, and plenty of coffee dates at Buddy Brew. It never stressed me out, I enjoyed every minute. I also thrive under pressure, so I feel like meeting those tight deadlines and pulling off the amazing events that the girls in Private Events do would fuel my creativity.

What’s your favorite client story?

It was actually with the very first client I worked with here at OXDS. Our design director, Jordan, had just gone on maternity leave so I was the designer managing the project, after only being a part of the team for less than a month! Obviously crucial to make a good first impression and we had the best client ever. I was able to fully manage the project so when Jordan returned, and we installed our client’s home in October, the details all came together seamlessly. But, what really makes this my favorite moment is the look on our clients face when we revealed her home for her. It was the only look that mattered and made me feel so grateful that we were able to give her such an amazing experience.

What’s your favorite brand?

I have a few. I love Henry Calvin + Rome for fabric, they have great neutrals! Palecek is my favorite furniture manufacturer – their brand exudes comfortable sophistication. And lighting, I fall in love with every Visual Comfort piece, they have so many styles. I pull a lot of my design inspiration from Alyssa Kapito, I love how she creates such a welcoming, warm space using primarily neutrals.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I’m really into fitness. So much so that my husband jokes it’s my second job. I get up at 4:30 every morning, just to get my workout in – which can range from Pilates to weight training. I’m also an ambassador at CAMP Tampa, which has been such a fun experience because I get to workout at an amazing studio and share my love of fitness with others. Always down for workout buddies!

What’s your crazy dream?

To host a wellness retreat! I’m really passionate about health and wellness and would love to put together a retreat and host it. My ideal location would be overseas to host the retreat – I find Europe to be truly inspiring and would love to host in France, Italy, or Croatia. The retreats would obviously have a physical component in the form of yoga, Pilates, and HIIT workouts, but it would also focus a lot on food! I’d want to host them like twice a year, maybe even holding mini, local retreats. It’s an amazing way to re-energize your soul and leaves you feeling refreshed with a clear mind.

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Kathi

Private Events - Sales Manager

How did you start at OE?

I heard through the grapevine from a friend of mine that there was an opening. She got me in touch with Sarah Fairbairn, Private Events Director, and I interviewed and got the position.

If you didn’t work in Private Events, where would you work?

My background is interior decorating, so possibly with the Design team. Or, I would love to help Jess with the selections for the Shop — I’d love to go on one of the buying trips. When they open the deliveries of new stock, it’s like Christmas morning for me.

What’s your favorite client story?

They’re so many of them — every time I give a tour to a couple, I walk back into the office saying how sweet they are. We do have a wedding coming up soon — one of the first couples I signed. He’s in the military and the planning has been pretty quick because he’s in and out of the country. The groom and all of his groomsmen are Marines and they are going to have a memory table to honor their lost friends. I’m so honored to be a part of it.

What’s your favorite part of Events?

One thing I really like is when a couple can use all of our spaces — the Shaw Library for the ceremony and then the atrium, conservatory, and dining room.  So many people have never been upstairs. I also love this craziness of this place on a Saturday at 5:15pm with all that’s going on downstairs. The guests have no idea of the flip that’s about to happen for the wedding that starts in two hours.  

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

One of my favorite trips I’ve ever been on was two weeks in the Amazon. We were on a boat — not a fancy boat — and went up and down the Amazon and its tributaries. The second week we were at a land-based camp up on stilts — with no electricity and no running water. I was a teacher and used to teach 4th graders about the Amazon. I saw an ad for a trip for teachers and I gave it to the principal almost as a joke. He called me in the office and asked if I was really serious and the Dad’s Club sent me to the Amazon.

What’s your crazy dream?

To live in a treehouse in Costa Rica. Just being outdoors, near the water, and living off the land. Another one is to visit Sicily, where my husband’s family is from, and see Caccamo Castle.

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Paris

Aesop - Retail Consultant

How did you start at Aesop at OE?

I was in Oxford Exchange just by coincidence. When I saw the Aesop space, I knew I had to work there. It was love at first sight.   love how detail-oriented they are and the attention to quality — even in the little things, like what kind of staple we use.

If you didn’t work in Aesop, where would you work?

I would work in the Bookstore. I’m always captivated by words, so I like to talk about language and literature.

What do you enjoy about your customers?

I enjoy that many of our customers are very well-travelled. I like talking about the different cultures and food. I love the conversations you can have at Aesop and at Oxford Exchange.

What’s your favorite product?

The In Two Minds range — it’s a cleanser / toner / moisturizer that’s meant to balance combination skin. It’s really good to use in Florida — we all love it at Aesop.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I roast my own coffee. I import the beans — usually from Ethiopia and Columbia. I worked in coffee for a long time; I used to work at Buddy Brew. There are all sorts of ways to do it at home, but I have my own drum roaster.

What’s your crazy dream?

What I find most interesting is curating experience. It’s hard to explain, but I like how food and beverage can work with retail, for instance. I’d like to own my own place — a hotel or something like that, where I can combine different elements like food and beverage and shopping.

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Audrey

Commerce Club - Associate

How did you start at Oxford Exchange?

When I moved to Tampa in 2015, I was transferring to USF and I was on social media looking for cool places in Tampa. I had never been, but I fell in love with Oxford Exchange online, so the first time I came in I had my resumé ready to go. I dropped it off in the Shop with Jade, and Jess called me a few days later for an interview.

If you didn’t work in the Commerce Club, where would you work?

I think I’d like working in Buddy Brew — they have interactions with almost everyone who comes in the building. Plus, I’d love to make latte art.

What’s your favorite customer story?

That’s tough — I’ve been here so long. The first one that comes to mind was this past December right after I’d shaved my head for St. Baldrick. I liked it but I was still a little self-conscious. This random guy walked by the door of the Commerce Club and then came back to open the door and poke his head in. He told me he really liked my shaved head and that it made me look like a model. It made me feel really good since I still wasn’t really comfortable.

What’s your favorite brand?

I’m super in love with the honey we sell in the Shop; the brand is Bee Raw. My favorite honey is Colorado Star Thistle — it’s really sweet and mild. And the Buckwheat honey, too. It has anti-bacterial properties and I use it on my skin: it’s good for burns and acne.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I guess that I speak a little Japanese. I’m not really fluent, but I can get my point across. That’s a really different language for most people. I learned it because I wanted to go to Japan; I found out that USF had a program to study abroad in Japan. I applied really last minute. I didn’t get to go that time, but I took the extra time as an opportunity to learn Japanese so I was ready when I did go.

What’s your crazy dream?

I guess my crazy dream is to move to Japan, which I get to do very soon and I’m very, very excited. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but now I’m moving there to teach English. I’m moving to Shizuoka, a mid-sized city not too far from Tokyo.  There’s water and a bay in front of you and Mt. Fuji behind you. It’s going to be so beautiful and peaceful.  t just dawned on my recently how isolated I’ll be from everyone I know — I’ll be living a day ahead of everyone at home. It’s so weird when you come back to the States. The jet lag is brutal.

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Vinni

Restaurant - Server

How did you start at the OE?

I was going to work somewhere else, but I Googled top restaurants in Tampa, and Oxford Exchange was on the list. It looked significantly different than anything I’d ever seen, so I came in and applied. I’m glad I did because I think it’s better than the other restaurants that were on the list.

If you didn’t work in the Restaurant, where would you work?

In the tech industry. I don’t have the degree for it, but I wanted to do project management for application-based software.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I don’t know what to tell you about how much I love our customers. It was incredibly intimidating to wait on Derek Jeter—I spent so many hours imitating his moves in high school.  And he’s honestly the nicest celebrity—other than maybe Hulk Hogan—and one of the nicest people I’ve ever waited on. Our customers are so great; I mentioned Derek Jeter because I look up to him so much, but they are all so nice. I’ve worked in 8 restaurants and I’ve not seen customers like ours.

What’s your favorite dish in the Restaurant?

It would have to be that chicken burger. There’s nothing like it and it sells itself.

What’s something no one would guess about you?

That’s a tough one. I’m actually not born in this country—I was born in Albania.  I came here when I was 5 years old; we moved to Chicago first. My father turned down a great job in Albania because of the corruption, sold his company, and we moved to the States.

What’s your crazy dream?

Can this be a big dream? Because I have a really big dream. I want to compete with Elon Musk and the Space-X program. I love Elon Musk.

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Andrea W.

Oxford Creative Studio - Project Manager

How did you start working at OE?

I felt led to move towards the city for work instead of away from it. I was daydreaming about what kind of business or organization I would want to work with downtown. As I was daydreaming, I saw an Instagram post for this position, and I knew it was the job for me and that I had to apply. I feel like my job is to be a translator between the client and the designers.

If you didn’t work at Oxford Creative Studio, where would you work?

It’s a really hard question because I really like my position and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. But, I really love glasses, so maybe Warby Parker?  I know I get to walk past them every day, but I would love to spend more time there.

What do you like about your clients?

I really love hearing about each client’s business as we’re working with them. We’re dealing with the owner—it’s their livelihood. We learn about them and hear about their passions and why they’re in business. They trust us to represent them visually—they’re very open and very vulnerable.

What’s your favorite part of OE?

I really like knowing about different parts of the building. I’m really a geek about the history, and knowing who made everything, and who’s in all the pictures. I like the thought that went behind everything. I’ve been on a couple of the tours and I could go every week. I really like telling people about the space, whether it’s someone I pass in the halls or friends that I bring in.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

When I was in high school, the 2001 Super Bowl was here, and I auditioned as a dancer. I was one of the dancers in the pre-game show with Styx and Sting. I can see why fame is so addictive, even though I was just one of 200 people dancing while Sting sang Roxanne. I remember everyone was so happy—it was the pre-game, so no one was winning or losing yet and everyone could be excited. It was invigorating.

What’s your crazy dream?

As a writer, I would really love to see my words in book form. It’s not too crazy a dream because I’m working towards it. It would be non-fiction, but I don’t really know what about yet. I just know I’m a writer. I don’t have a time-line, I just keep writing and I’ll know when I have the right idea. Right now, I stay disciplined by making sure I write every day, and I have a blog that I post monthly.

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Jess M.

TeBella Tea Co. - Tea-rista

How did you start at TeBella at Oxford Exchange?

I graduated from the University of Florida — go Gators! I was home and needed something to work on before grad school. I saw online that TeBella was hiring, and I interviewed and got the job. I didn’t realize I would get to work with such amazing people.

If you didn’t work at TeBella, where would you work?

The Bookstore, no doubt. I love reading and being surrounded by all those stories.  I love talking to people about them, and I really like talking to people who work in the Bookstore. There’s a quote that I like, "The secret to a well-balanced life is a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I like hearing people say that they make their travel plans in such a way that they can come to Oxford Exchange. I had someone tell me that it was the best London Fog they ever had. And I like the kids — we have one little girl who comes to the counter and doesn’t know our names, so she calls us all by Disney princess names.

What’s your favorite tea?

Definitely Moroccan Mint. It’s a gunpowder green tea with peppermint — slightly smokey, slightly sweet. It’s my first tea every morning, in a nice warm mug.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I guess that I like old-school hip-hop and R & B. Especially the 90’s. That’s what my dad would play when I was growing up. Also, I was a dancer in high school and hip-hop was my favorite style.

What’s your crazy dream?

It’s not too crazy, but I’d like to live on an island with the mountains behind me and water in front of me. I’d live off the land — with a good stash of tea, of course. I wouldn’t want a phone or anything; I’d want to be one with nature. I say that, but after a week I’d probably want to know what was going on in the rest of the world.

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Taylor V.

Restaurant - Private Events Lead Server

How did you start at OE?  

I started working here because my mom used to go to the Starbucks at the Hyatt and she knew two girls who worked at the Hyatt and also worked here. She got to be friends with them and they told me about the job. I’ve been here 2 1/2 years now.

If you didn’t work in Private Events, where would you work?

I don’t know because Events is really where I want to be. If I didn’t work during the events, I’d probably either be coordinating the events or in the Design studio. Or something to do with photography like Jade does. I guess everyone wants a creative outlet some way or the other.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I was doing a tasting for a bride once. She came all the way from Palm Beach for the tasting. I guess I made a good impression because I worked a lot of weddings and was able to answer a lot of her questions. She loved me so much that she wanted me to be her assistant during the day of the wedding. It made me feel really special. She was even introducing me to all of her friends.

What’s your favorite meal?

That’s a really tough one. I would say during the events my favorite meal is the pistachio crusted salmon. It’s so good—it’s my fave.   also recently tried a parmesan risotto that was really good. Everything is so good; that’s a really hard question.

What’s one thing no one would know about you?

I don’t know. I feel like I’m pretty open. Maybe that I’m half-Colombian. I don’t look like it at all. My grandmother’s Canadian and I think I inherited her fair skin. The only Spanish I know, I learned in school. I was really stubborn. My other grandmother offered to trade me—I would teach her English and she would teach me Spanish, but I wanted to play and I didn’t do it.

What’s your crazy dream?

My crazy dream is to travel the world but work at the same time. Maybe from a laptop or something—so I could travel everywhere but still make money.

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Carolina

Private Events - Events Manager

How did you start at OE?

So, I think this is everyone’s response. Chef Rachel told me that Sarah was looking for an intern I thought it was going to be unpaid, but I didn’t care (Rachel and I say we’re cousins, but we’re not really. Her sister is married to my cousin and her family has adopted me). I started really part-time, but I’ve grown and I’ve been here for 3 years.

If you didn’t work in Events, where would you work?

I would say maybe the Creative department. I studied graphic design in Ecuador before I moved here. I realized I didn’t like sitting in front of a  computer that much. But I like the marketing and events side — I like projects. I like how they can give things personality or an image, whether it’s a place or a service.

What’s your favorite client story?

I have a few. In general, I really like how people transform from when you first meet them, and then the tasting, and then the wedding. You get to see them with their people. You get to tell them what to do a little bit and help them make their day better. There was this father of the bride once who was telling me how great everything was, and he told me, “You’re very short, but you’re very powerful.” I like how people see me, almost like a little girl, but then appreciate everything I can do.

What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite entrée is the filet. It’s so amazing how we can do an amazing lunch and breakfast, and then we kill it at night. Not that people don’t expect the food to be good, it’s just so different. The filet is so good and you don’t even need a knife. But can I just say, you should’t always pick the steak because it’s safe. The scallops and duck are amazing and even the picky eaters will love it.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I don’t know. I feel like I’m very predictable. I used to paint — oil paintings. I loved it. Every once in a while, I’ll go crazy and paint for a week. It’s very relaxing, but it’s more like a hobby. I like to paint flowers. And now that I work weddings, I’ve discovered all these new flowers. I like the colors and textures. And trees — I like trees.

What’s your crazy dream?

Ok, this is what I really want to do, and I’m always thinking, “how do I get there?” I want to do the Super Bowl half-time show. Setting up for Events is fun, but it takes a lot of work no matter what size the event. It can be stressful, but it can be really fun with the multi-tasking and seeing it be successful. I only watch the Super Bowl for the half-time show and they do so much in minutes — I’d love to be a part of that.

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Joelle

Oxford Design Studio - Accounts Manager

How did you start working at Oxford Design Studio (OXDS)?

I sent my resumé on a spur. At first, Design said they weren’t hiring. Jess (Director of Retail) called and asked me if I was interested in working in the Bookstore. I thought I would and then try to work my way into Design. Design ended up having an opening, though, and they called me to start with them. I was doing accounts and stuff for my dad—I liked that I could use that in Design.

If you didn’t work in OXDS, where would you work?

I’d want to work upstairs at OE with Jess and Laura and Jade. I lived in New York and wanted to be a buyer. That was what I initially wanted to do at Oxford Exchange.

What’s your favorite customer story?

Last summer we did a party for a regular client. It’s not something we normally do, but we did tablescapes for her. It was really fun to do something different and dream-like. It was the hottest summer day but it was fun. And we got to stay for the party—they had the best food!

What’s your favorite brand?

My favorite brand furniture-wise is Made Goods. It’s simple, modern, and eclectic.  I feel like it can work with anything.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I speak Arabic. I’m Lebanese and I grew up wanting to work for the State Department at an embassy. I went to grad school for political science and even went through the interview process for an internship. It’s a long process and really stressful—background tests and polygraph tests. In the ends, I realized it wasn’t really the life I wanted for myself.

What’s your crazy dream?

My crazy dream is to have a small jewelry shop with coffee, tea, and kombucha and some home decor. Something really tiny. My dad has a jewelry store, but mine isn’t like that. I started my own jewelry line—Peach and Pair. I make the design and give it to my dad’s jeweler to make. I sold my first piece last week!

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Danny

Shop - Sales Associate

How did you start working at OE?

Audrey (retail associate) got me a job. I applied three times and Jess never even called me.  I kind of gave up and applied in the restaurant and at Aesop. Then someone left the Shop and Audrey told me to email Jess again.

If you didn’t work in the Shop, where would you work?

TeBella or Design. TeBella smells amazing, always. And then Design because they make super awesome stuff. They’re very creative.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I had this lady—I’m trying to think is it the one who invited me out to drinks or the one who wanted to adopt me? That’s I good snippet, don’t you think? I didn’t end up going out for drinks; I was traveling that day. And I'm not adopted.

What’s your favorite brand?

Terrafirma. Because they’re all unique—they’re handmade. And they’re so pretty. It’s between that and our honey from Bee Raw.

What’s one think no one would guess about you?

Oh my gosh. I’m trilingual. I speak English, Spanish, Papiamento, and I’m working on French. Papiamento is a Caribbean dialect. My cousins live in Curacao and I spent a lot of time over there; that’s how I picked it up.

What’s your crazy dream?

World peace, a lá Miss Congeniality. Ummm—I really don’t know. A big dream is that I want to run for Congress.

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Yordani

Restaurant - Exposition, Server Assistant

How did you start at OE?

I had a friend who used to work here and he told me about the place. I came in one Monday and waited forever because they (restaurant managers) were in meetings. I came back another day and Steven hired me.

If you didn’t work in the Restaurant, where would you work?

I’d like to be the General Manager, but besides that… I think a server in the Commerce Club. I think every spot is kind of interesting in its own way. I want to learn how to cook, so I could help out during rushes.  

What’s your favorite customer story?

I think, I don’t have one specific story, but when I take the food out to the people.  The food looks so beautiful and the timing is good. Their faces when they see the food... like the brussels sprouts. Just how they react to the food and the building.

What’s your favorite dish?

I’ll go with the mahi tacos. I like tacos in general, but the mahi, which is a really good fish, and then the cheese and the pico and the soft tortilla. And not just the mahi, but the way it’s blackened. The presentation is really great. I think it’s a great plate for lunch.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I don’t drink milk. I used to like it a lot when I was a little boy. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was drinking my milk in a bottle and some friends came over and saw me. I was so used to it—the taste in the actual bottle. And I wanted it in MY bottle.   just rejected milk because I was so embarrassed. I don’t even drink it in smoothies. It’s in my head so bad; I’ve tried to drink it again but I can’t.

What’s your crazy dream?

A famous sports player. I would say either soccer or American football. But I would share the money or help my friends. An athlete that people recognized for the good they do off the court—for character. And they play for like 10 years and they’re set up for life.

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Kristin

Aesop - Retail Consultant

How did you start at Aesop?

I received a message via Linked-In asking if I wanted to join Aesop in Tampa. I thought it was spam at first. I know nothing about skin care so it was really random.  It turns out that they hire a lot of creatives and artists, people who can speak well with the guests. I didn’t even know it was going to be in Oxford Exchange until I started the process. I also didn’t realize until later that I had been in an Aesop in California—I tried out their soap and washed my hands. The first experience with Aesop is usually modest, it takes a little while before people engage with the brand.

If you didn’t work in Aesop, where would you work?

It would definitely be the Creative team or Jade’s position (Web Content Manager). I have an arts background and I’m intrigued by color palettes and design. My roommate, Rachel, works with Creative and I love what she gets to do every day.

What’s your favorite guest story?

This is related to customers, but also to a staff member. John Bowyer, our Retail Business Manager, was in town for the holiday shopping party.  All the women were surrounding him and his British accent—he sold more than all of us with our American accents. I like the holiday shopping parties because it’s so different here after hours: “Aesop in the Dark.”

What’s your favorite product?

Definitely our newest product, In Two Minds. It’s a trio for combination skin and it’s great for Florida. It’s light-weight, but it stands up to the humidity and heat. It balances the skin tone.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I own and operate an organic farm in Lutz. My boyfriend and I have been doing that for two years. We’re a seasonal produce farm, so we’re in all the local markets and we’re open Sundays from 9-3. We just received a grant for two acres in Tampa Heights, and we’re breaking ground in a few weeks. I got started because I wasn’t finding what I wanted to eat. We’re trying to build easier access to local food—the organic is just a plus.

What’s your crazy dream?

To join the circus. I want to do duo straps or trapeze. I was at Cirque du Soleil in Tampa—I met the VIP Coordinator through a farmer’s market. He invited us to keep coming back to see the changes in the show. I’ve only had maybe two acro classes.  The physical dedication is tremendous. It’s theatrical and artsy. The creativity from the cast is mind-blowing.

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Kaitie

Bookstore - Sales Associate Lead 

How did you start at OE?  

I was friends with Jade (Web Content Manager). I really wanted to work in a bookstore, so I turned in an application at the beginning of the summer (but I didn’t hear back). Jade texted me in September and asked me if I was still interested. I was in a job I hated so I said yes. I was on my way to class, but I came in as soon as class was over.

If you didn’t work in the Bookstore, where else would you want to work?  

Definitely TeBella. I see on Instagram that they’re hiring for Sarasota, and I’m like, “hmmm”  (not really!). I’m a tea junkie.

What’s your favorite customer story?  

There was one time around the holidays and this lady in her 80’s—like 85—came in. We walked all around the Bookstore and she told me her favorite books and favorite authors. It was really, really sweet.

What’s your favorite genre or book?  

My favorite genre tends to be sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite book is never the same. It changes pretty much day to day. It depends on what I’m reading then.  Annihilation by Jeff Vander Meer blew my mind—the movie is nothing like the book—more “inspired by”—but the book is genius.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?  

I used to read Tarot cards professionally. I had a reading done on me when I was in high school and I was super fascinated by it. I started collecting cards and doing readings for my friends. I had a business on Etsy for a while and I did really well. It was exhausting, though.

What’s your crazy dream?  

I would like to write, but I would also like to sing and play on Broadway. It’s not something I’ve done since elementary school. The more realistic dream is to be a novelist—that’s what my degree is in.

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Jess C.

Restaurant - Server

How did you start at OE?

I was working at Ava with Morgan, Chef Rachel’s wife. I was looking for more flexibility and a job with daytime hours so I could spend more time with my daughter. Morgan suggested Oxford Exchange, so I applied.

If you didn’t work in the Restaurant, where else would you want to work?  

I would want to do either something with Design or help plan weddings. I like the creative aspect of it: it’s pretty, and you get to be a part of special moments.

What’s your favorite customer story?  

One that always sticks with me is because I used to model. There was a photographer eating here that I knew through a mutual friend. He asked how I was doing and I told him that I’d had a contract to go to New York. I turned it down because of my daughter. He gave me the biggest compliment and it really warmed my heart because he was proud of my decision.

What’s your favorite dish?  

Tyler already said chicken paillard, so I can’t do that one. The steak salad is my second favorite—I love the pickled onions on top and the pico is my jam. I put it on everything—my Super Simple sandwich, bagels, everything.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?  

I’m a military brat and Tampa has been the longest amount of time I’ve stayed in one place. I’ve been here six years. Or, you could put that I’m signed model in New York. Well, not anymore….

What’s your crazy dream?  

I would model. I would sign with an agency in New York. I’d bring my daughter with me and travel.

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Mykola

Restaurant - Line Cook

A Q & A with Mykola and Chef Richard

How did you start at OE?

Mykola: I lived in New Jersey for a few months after I left the Ukraine and a friend got me a job in a pizza place. When I moved to Tampa, I saw an ad on Craigslist and then I happened to be walking by Oxford Exchange one day. My girlfriend (now my wife) told me to come in and apply, so I did. Chef Richard called me for an interview and I could barely understand him on the phone because I didn’t speak a lot of English. I had never cooked before, except at the pizza place. I didn’t interview anywhere else for a job. This was actually the first interview I ever had. I never had a job in the Ukraine; it’s different over there.

Richard: I needed people. His English wasn’t very good, but he was young and seemed interested.  

Mykola: I was kind of shy. I started on salads; I didn’t have any experience on anything.  

Richard: But you were trying to learn and asked a lot of questions. Now he’s one of my best guys. He’s skilled. He can work almost anywhere. His station is one of the busiest on weekends and he juggles everything.   

If you didn’t work back of house, where would you like to work?  

Mykola: I’d be a designer.  

Richard: Designer?! Like clothes or houses?

Mykola: Like web design. I studied computers in the Ukraine for two years. I dropped it because I had a chance to come to America.  

Richard: I never knew that about you. Do you miss it?  

Mykola: No, not really. But if I’d stayed in the Ukraine, I probably would have never worked in restaurants and I would have done computers.

What’s your favorite story from work?

Mykola: I don’t know. I don’t really have one. Do you, Richard?

Richard: Everyone in the kitchen has a reputation or a story about them. With you, the joke is how you drop everything. I don’t know if it’s funny to you, but now when anyone drops anything, we blame you, even when you’re nowhere near.

Mykola: It’s true. It is kind of funny.

What’s your favorite food—something that’s different from what you’re used to?

Mykola: I would say steak. We didn’t eat it a lot in the Ukraine.

Richard: Isn’t it a lot of pork?

Mykola:  Yes. And we would never eat beef medium or medium-rare. It was always cooked through, well-done. Maybe because of the quality. There aren’t a lot of big commercial farms for beef. People would have a couple of cows, but it’s not the same.

What’s your crazy dream?  

Mykola:  Probably travelling. Maybe to Africa. It’s super different. Not even close to America or Europe or post-Soviet countries. I’d eat and just travel and meet new people. I’d work somewhere for a couple of months.

Richard: I know people who do that. Work the season and save just enough money to move on. It sounds great, but I couldn’t do it.

Mykola: No, it would be really hard. And it’s not something you can do if you have a family. 

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Joey 

Shop - Sales Associate Lead, Merchandiser 

How did you start at OE?

I always wanted to work here, ever since it opened. I really wanted to be in the Shop, so when I saw an ad on Craigslist I decided to apply.

If you didn’t work in the Shop, where would you work?

I would want to work in the office as a buyer. It’s always been one of my goals. I love merchandising and I want to be a shop owner.

What’s your favorite customer story?

We have a customer that comes in all the time—she loves Astier and John Derian.  I always shop with her and she takes my advice. When she takes it home and sets it up, she’ll send us pictures.

What’s your favorite brand?

Astier is growing for me, but I’m going to have to go with John Derian. It kind of grew on me and now I’m fascinated. It’s beautiful and the craftsmanship is totally worth it.

What’s one thing that no one would guess about you?

I’m trying to think of a good one. I enjoy sketching  I like to do fashion sketches.  Not a lot of people know that I have a fashion design background. I always wanted to be a fashion designer.

What’s your crazy dream?

I always wanted to be a set designer for theater. That was one of my dream jobs.  That’s where merchandising comes in, too — staging and setting it up, creating a moment.

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Tyler

Restaurant - Server

How did you start at OE?

I started about a year after we opened. I had restaurant experience and was working nights bartending. I had friends who worked here, so I applied. I wanted to make the switch to daytime, but it was a huge adjustment for me. I didn’t know what to think the first time I had to come in at 7 a.m.

If you didn’t work as a server, where else would you want to work?

I think I would work at Tebella; I call myself an honorary Tebella girl. I came here knowing nothing about tea, but now I’m a tea fanatic and I find it fascinating.

What’s your favorite customer story?

I greeted a table and was being super personable and explaining everything to the guests. This lady was just gazing at me and I asked if she needed anything. She said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear anything you said. I was mesmerized by how perfect your eyebrows are.”

What’s your favorite dish?

I have so many. I would say the paillard. No, I’m changing it to fish tacos because I have a better story. I was afraid of them because people said how spicy they were.  My palate has become more refined since working here and I love the spice.  (That’s a better answer than, “I like the paillard because I like truffle oil.")

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

I don’t know. I don’t have anything because I’m such an open book.  

What’s your crazy dream?

I’ve always said I want to be the next Ryan Seacrest. I’m really extroverted and charismatic—if I could meet celebrities and interview them and be in the public eye, that would be a dream job.

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Keisha

Restaurant - Line Cook
Keisha, Restaurant, Line Cook

How did you start at OE?

I applied here because someone I worked with at another restaurant suggested it. I started as a Server Assistant and then got put on Expo one day. I was doing a good job on Expo and I wanted to learn the back, so Chef took me into the kitchen. I was the first person with no kitchen experience to get hired in the back of the house. Now I know every station and love working back there. I like to keep it clean and organized and I like making sure the food looks good.

If you didn’t work in back of the house, where else would you want to work?

Front of house during events — I like seeing and meeting new people and watching them enjoy themselves.

What’s your favorite customer story?

One day I was working Expo and an older couple was sitting near by. I was calling back for fries and really getting onto the guys in the back — I have to take care of my guests. The lady came up to me as she was leaving and said, “You’re a lion, telling these boys what to do.” She had been watching me and really liked my energy and the way I worked. It made me feel really good.

What’s your favorite dish?

There’s so many things, I like all our food. Back when I could eat it (I’m vegan now), I loved the tomato mozzarella flatbread. I like the way it’s built, the way you have to take your time making it. You have to spread all the ingredients out just right because they will condense while they’re cooking, and it comes out looking so beautiful.

What’s one thing no one would guess about you?

That I’m a cook. When I tell people I work at Oxford Exchange, they assume I’m a Server or Hostess, because that’s what girls do. There aren’t many females in most kitchens.

What’s your crazy dream?

To start my own restaurant, or maybe a food truck.  Probably vegan — I’m learning more about veganism and there are so many ways to build flavors using seasonings and marinades; it doesn’t have to be boring. I don’t know, maybe some other kind of restaurant. For right now, I just want to learn everything I can. I love cooking.

1 comment

Ana lucia

Nice! In the most recent post, it’s ColOmbia, with an O :)

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