Last week, our burgeoning e-commerce brand Nature/Nurture hit 20K followers on Instagram (it’s kind of like Everlane, but the same). Historically, my co-founder and I have handled social media, but lately we've just been too busy. So, we posted here on LinkedIn looking for candidates.

At first glance, Richie Blackhorse met nearly all of our criteria: lively, charismatic, accustomed to a fast-paced working environment. He had an infectious English accent that the team immediately gravitated towards. But there were certainly red flags.

Richie showed up to work on his first day reeking of stale gin and Pall Malls. We thought maybe he had just had a late night (we like to party ourselves) but the continued stench suggested he was re-upping throughout the day.

And though he was quite charming over the phone, in-person it was hard not to focus on his exceptionally poor oral hygiene. It was unclear if the man had visited any kind of dental professional in the last decade. Though we were concerned about his well-being, we were also upfront about the fact that this permalance position did not include a benefits package.

During lunch, he would go off on hour-long, cocaine-fueled tangents about his time as a guitarist for the glam rock band Snake Hearts, a group he formed as a teen in Saltburn-By-The-Sea, North Riding of Yorkshire. Most of the time, the team and I had no idea what he was talking about (except for our digital producer, Annaliese, who was apparently a diehard fan).

Idiosyncrasies aside, the largest issue with Richie was that he knew virtually nothing about running a brand social media account. On one occasion, he looked up in sudden clarity: “Oh, BRAND! With an R!” He would often reference his manager, Alfie LaRoux, who (after a brief Google search) we learned had passed away 11 years prior from a Quaalude overdose. This was when we first suspected things were not going to work out.

Still, it was hard not to empathize with Richie. He was forthcoming with the tragic details of his life: twice divorced, a string of rehab stints. He had struggled to reenter the workforce without a college degree. What’s worse, his life’s savings had been slowly siphoned by a nasty A&R rep at Virgin Records in the '80s. In light of our company ethos, we wanted to do what we could to help.

Leveraging Richie’s robust interpersonal skills, we were able to train him to be CX Storyteller (Customer Support Associate). Richie jumped at the opportunity and has risen to the occasion over the last few months—leather pants and all! He’s an integral asset to the team and a veritable self-starter (as long as he’s not short on his “booger sugar!”). We often joke that it’s a good thing Richie is so comfortable in hats, because he wears so many of them around the office.

Kudos to you, Richie!

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