Second year of Adrift Hospitality Youth Cohort and CEO Q&A
Adrift Hospitality is focused on bettering the lives of all employees and supporting the educational and vocational progression of young adults.
That’s why last year we launched our Youth Cohort program. This program gives our youth employees (14-22 years old) the opportunity to attend targeted workshops and also gives them the ability to participate in a company matching fund to earn money towards tuition for college or trade schools.
Cohort members interested in the hospitality industry also have the opportunity to apply for an internship with the company. Alayna Marsh, a Youth Cohort member, has now served as a Marketing Intern for two summers when she’s home from college.
Alayna sat down with our CEO, Tiffany Turner, to gain some insight into how she started out in the industry and what she’s learned along the way.
I’ve known Tiffany Turner since I was a sophomore in high school, when my two younger sisters played soccer with her sons Jaden and Beckett, and helped coordinate coaching efforts with my parents. The summer before my junior year, I was looking for a summer job and my parents told me that she was hiring at Pickled Fish restaurant. I already knew and liked Tiffany, so I applied and got accepted, despite having never worked in the restaurant industry and this being my first job outside of babysitting.
My first day of work, Tiffany herself showed me where to go and made sure that I found the right people. I didn’t think this was strange at the time, but looking back, I don’t think most CEOs take the time to show a new hire where they need to go and make sure they’re comfortable bussing tables.
During my summers I continued to work at the Pickled Fish and now, three years later, I’m serving at Pickled Fish as part of the newly founded Youth Cohort, going into my sophomore year of college, and have been hired as the first ever marketing intern at Adrift Hospitality.
But because I’ve been family friends with the Turners for years, I have found that I know her mostly on a very family and friends level. I’ve had family dinners at her house, sat next to her at soccer games, and even scrimmaged soccer games against her sons. But I don’t know a whole lot about how she got to where she is, and now that I’m in college and thinking about my own career, I have a few questions.
Where did you grow up? I grew up on the Peninsula. My dad was a commercial fisherman out of Ilwaco. I was born in Astoria. This is my home.
Where did you go to school? I spent my k-12 years at Ocean Beach School District, graduating with honors from Ilwaco High School. I received my bachelors degree in Family Consumer Sciences and an Elementary Education Certificate from Seattle Pacific University.
What were your original goals coming out of college? I’ve always wanted to make a difference in a positive way, and I’ve always seen youth as a way to do that. Originally I wanted to teach in an inner city school but ended up moving back home. I quickly realized that the rural demographic that we have in Pacific County has some really significant challenges and generational poverty and the schools here were places that I could make a real impact.
How did you get into the restaurant and hotel industry? Totally by accident, LOL. My in-laws moved to the Peninsula when I was 12 and refurbished a run down apartment complex into Boardwalk Cottages. Brady, my husband and business partner (whom I also met when I was 12), helped them. He spent his teenage years working for their business. As a young adult, he always knew that he wanted to create and open a business. When we moved back home after marriage and college, we were already dreaming. We opened our first business in 2003 at the age of 24, and our business plan was that one of us had to keep our day job. At the time, I had a nursing 9 month old, so I got to stay home with the business and the baby, who is now 15 and is working for us in the summers. As we grew, I realized how much impact business and commerce have on community and individuals and I was really drawn to helping people in that way. It’s also really fun to make people happy through hospitality! Although, I’m not on the front lines much any more, I was always so happy when I saw the impact that a vacation and a little play had on the lives of those who stayed with us.
Did you have any background in those industries? I didn’t have any background in hotel operations, but I do come from a family of entrepreneurs. This is helpful as I realized that I didn’t have a lot of fear around earning a regular paycheck (which you definitely don’t do when you are starting out). My parents are also some of the most hospitable people I know and were always entertaining and hosting as I was growing up, AND Brady grew up in the industry…so between the 2 of us, there was definitely some knowledge.
Did you have a long term goal or plan for the hotels? If so, what was it? We’ve intentionally not articulated any final plans. We’ve grown organically up to this point and want to keep growing. However, it’s not just about growth for us…it’s about enjoying the journey and making sure that we are doing right by all of those involved.
Did you expect the company to grow this drastically? No way! When we started, we were just gonna live on the beach with a couple of kids and enjoy life.
What advice would you give to a college student that wants to make a social change in their community? Find something that you are passionate about and surround yourself with amazing people with whom you can learn from and grow with.
What advice would you give to a woman trying to make their way in a women-led business? Don’t listen to the naysayers. Find other women who are doing trailblazing things and lift each other up. As much as I’d like to say that the playing field is even, it’s not…even close. We have to work together and work so much smarter to get shit done. Also, find a partner (business partner and life partner…for me it’s the same person, but it doesn’t need to be) who you can be authentic with and will work through the challenges with you.
What made you decide to brand Adrift Hospitality SPC as a women-led business? Like most things in our business, it happened pretty organically. It wasn’t a decision we made, but as we grew, I became the leader in our business and surrounded myself with badass women!
To you, what’s the difference between a women-led and any old regular business? I think women led businesses tend to be more collaborative and people oriented. I could go on about the societal constructs created by and for white men that require women to do things differently, but I think that’s for a different conversation. It’s also worth noting that our business has benefited from those societal constructs by having a founder and leader in Brady who fits that description. Especially early on but still to this day in a lot of ways, we wouldn’t have been taken seriously by a lot of folks if it were just me.
What keeps you driving to fight for social justice causes? Impact is what drives me to do anything. Being a business owner gives me a unique platform to fight for the things that I believe in…and those things are really what keeps me doing this.
What’s the biggest change in community that you’ve seen since starting this journey? I’d like to believe that we’ve helped build a more inclusive community than in this same community that I grew up in. We haven’t done this alone and there are many who were doing this work before us and are doing it alongside us. Also, tourism has been recognized not just as a side show industry, but an industry that is a true part of our economy and that should be taken seriously as an economic driver and job creator.
How do you make decisions on what direction you’ll go next? Is it good for the people in our company, can we make a difference in some way, does it sound fun, and will it make at least a little bit of money?
Do you think that you think in a business type way, or do you let your values guide you? I think I have a good balance of both…I think you have to think in a business way to actually keep the doors open, but allowing your values to be your ultimate guide and gut check is why businesses for good are growing and doing well. I hope to inspire more triple bottom line businesses to be successful and do good!