Greetings from F52 HQ

How Food52's Holiday Elves Kick-Start the Season

A behind-the-scenes look at the busy bees creating holiday magic.

October  8, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Food52 is not your typical office anytime of year (unless you consider perfectly art-directed bookshelves and show-stopping layer cakes coming out of the test kitchen typical), and that goes double for the holidays. We’ve got trees a twinkling and carols on repeat as early as October. Here’s what we’re up to right now.

It reads only October on the calendar, but inside Food52 headquarters, we're seeing Christmas trees (below), hearing carols, and smelling all sorts of warm, wintry spices. The holidays are here! In our offices, at least.

Spruces and pumpkins are in full swing, y’all. Photo by Hana Asbrink

For the Food52 buying team, it's been holiday mode for at least the last several months… or since the wrap of Holiday 2017. “We started planning the 2018 holiday season in January,” Kristina Wasserman, our director of merchandising & product development tells me on Oct. 1, the official start to the fourth quarter ("q4," as we know it), the most anticipated time of year for her team. “We start actively finalizing all major product launches in April because everything has to be wrapped with samples in by May."

If that doesn’t seem like a big enough task, did we mention Kristina’s also set to be married in a couple of weeks’ time? No biggie. “Yeah, I'm going kind of insane,” she deadpans. When she’s not tying up loose ends like seating charts and flower arrangements for the wedding, she’s busy making sure her team is prepared during her absence. “Now it's more the hustle of making sure we're forecasting properly and making sure things are in stock ahead of the rush of orders,” she explains. “But overall, I'm feeling good. I'm a bit nervous, but more excited than ever before."

Senior Director of Buying Jojo Feld & Senior Marketing Director Grace Ouma-Cabezas pop bottles with their teams to kick off q4! Photo by Hana Asbrink

We all know that when it rains, it pours. If juggling the holiday shopping season and wedding minutiae weren’t enough, Kristina is buzzing with excitement over top secret new initiatives that will help take Food52 to greater heights. Easier said than done—just take a look at how much planning and effort is involved in her team’s day-to-day:

Just try to book a meeting with Kristina and her team. I dare you.

"I'm most excited to see how the stories we have been preparing to tell over the past couple weeks will resonate with customers," Trevor Adams, our merchandising coordinator, tells me. "'Did I mention that this cast iron is special because it won't rust?' or 'Does that image make that texture on that hand-thrown mug shine?' are all questions I ask when I look at how to best merchandise on the site." As for how he’s dealing with spreadsheet overload? "Lots of black Assam tea and Vivaldi on my headphones. Party like it's 1699!"

Q4 means early mornings and late nights… and always working with some of the site’s best-selling products (Bodega glasses!) nearby. Photo by Hana Asbrink

With all these great new goods launching, how do you choose a favorite? It's hard, but I pressed Trevor for his picks anyway. "The Smoking Cloche is so quirky; it's just the thing to step up any dinner party. And the Silicone Lidded Pinch + Pour Measurement Beakers would be an excellent helper in the kitchen during all sorts of holiday cooking and baking."

Food52's Care team is gearing up in the meantime. Melissa Langer, our customer care operations manager, is already deep in the process of hiring critical seasonal help that will help field the sheer volume of orders during the last few months of the year.

In the office, you can already feel the hum building, the tempo taken up a notch. There's not a day that goes by that the telltale sound of packing tape coming off its dispenser gun isn't heard as boxes get packed up. Our buying team is already firing on all cylinders, sharing their knowledge in product previews for other teams to get up to speed on. The test kitchen is already parading apple desserts, and it's only a matter of time before the ginger 'n spice-inflected assortment start coming through.

It's an exciting time, alright, one that we can't wait to share with you.

Are you dreaming of tree-trimming already? Let us know how you're gearing up for the holidays below!

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.