Ieva Marija // BREW Team Lead
Ieva Marija Blažytė is inquisitive, tenderhearted, detail-oriented and extremely valued BREW family member. She started as a Barista Assistant, from setting everything up in the early mornings and ended up as a Team Leader at Pylimo coffee shop.
Today we sat down for a recap of 3 years spent working behind the bar. Many tears of gratefulness were shed trough this conversation, as she is embarking on a journey to explore her potential in different waters, but we are happy to know she loved her time spent here.
I invited you for a recap of 3 years behind the BREW bar. How are you feeling about it?
I am already tearing up (giggles). These years have been so beautiful, and I am already feeling very nostalgic. So many things have happened!
Tell me, how did you find yourself behind the BREW bar?
I had a dream to work as a barista when I was a teenager. I remember the first time I tried to apply for my first job I was 17 years old. After 11th grade, in 2017 I was searching for a summer gig. I tried applying at BREW, but they were searching for someone who had at least a little bit of experience. I remember sending them a message on Facebook asking „Where do I send my resume to apply for a job here?“. I wasn’t lucky the first time. I still had it in my diary wish list to work in a coffee shop one day. 2018 came around, and my friend who used to work here [Emilija] told me that BREW is hiring again, and that I should come for a job interview. After I applied it escalated pretty quickly and here I am!
Who/What inspired you to work at BREW for more then 3 years?
The first person who comes to mind, obviously, is our manager Andželika. She had the biggest impact on me. There were many passionate baristas behind the bar though. I ended up receiving inspiration from all of them, piece by piece, collecting them into my brain portmanteau. I would say that the team itself is the foundation of my drive to keep growing. I clearly remember watching the baristas making ”Aeropress” and all of them had different techniques, so I ended up finding my own way trough observing everyone.
I was inspired by them not only behind the bar, but also to try other things, to live life learning and growing and not being afraid to discover my abilities or failure.
How did your positions change in these 3 years?
I started as a Barista Assistant, making sandwiches, basically. When I started working at BREW, I was still studying in University, so it was good to earn some extra money. I remember myself going to studies after work, and being upset. I felt happier making sandwiches than studying something I didn’t like. Of course it was more the atmosphere of BREW and not the process making of sandwiches, but little by little I found my motivation to study melting away.
One day I ended up having a conversation with the founders Agnė and Tadas, and they suggested having shifts behind the bar and learning to make coffee. Thus, I am here today, looking after one of the coffee shops. (Whispers) For anyone who is still working, just know that there are many possibilities here, just keep learning.
You spent quite awhile here. Do you have a memory, which you will always cherish in your heart?
I remember sitting and studying at BREW, and Rūta (co-worker) was getting ready for coffee championship. She would be cupping very often. The funny part about cuppings, as some of us know, it is often accompanied by loud slurping noises. I couldn’t resist to join them, then customers one by one, would come up, asking us what are we doing, and then they ended up joining in as well. It created a feeling of a little community, something that I will always cherish. I think that is the beauty of working at BREW. Those funny slurping noises in the background, people joining in, everyone getting to know each other, all of these stories that make you feel at home. Even though that already seems like a very distant memory, having lived trough 2020.
What comes to your mind when you think about BREW?
Family. That‘s the word for our community of people who work here and those who come as customers. It has always felt this way. It‘s crazy to think about it, that people who you barely know, end up being friends who come and tell you how their day went. This connection wouldn‘t happen on the street in Lithuania, but it definitely happens at BREW. We are all tangled.
I want you to reflect on your growth since coming to work here. How would you describe yourself when you first applied for a job here?
Fearful. Shy. Closed off. Someone who didn‘t think she is capable to hold a good conversation in any way. I thought I wasn‘t talkative. (laughs)
It’s mind-blowing that you are full-time behind the bar, and a Team Leader now! How did you come to a conclusion of stopping studies and going full time?
People who hopefully became lifelong friends gently pushed me, the ones I met at Brew. Someone said to me that if I feel happier making sandwiches rather than going to studies, maybe there is a need for a change.
When you became a Team Leader what character qualities seemed important to you?
I think it was really hard to learn sharing responsibilities. It always felt wrong asking for help, and I would end up doing everything myself. (laughs)
But the most important thing for me was the well-being of our team. To know if everyone feels happy and comfortable.
Now tell me, how do you think this job changed you?
Everything changed, I would say. (Tears up) It‘s hard for me to comprehend who I was even a year ago. So from the very first point and time to right here right now the change is massive. I think only last summer, I finally felt like I would rather stand behind the register, where I can talk to customers, rather than quietly behind the coffee machine. I had fun talking with people, and thought I never would. Especially now, I started feeling more confident, knowing I can do what I think of. I feel bolder. I didn‘t have courage in me before. A lot of growth has happened.
Do you think this experience will help you in the future?
I think this environment was perfect for growth and learning, because you feel supported every step of the way. I am always happy to hear team mates cheering each other on. It gives lots of good energy to move forward. I think it‘s like a small version of other things that will come my way. I learned what kind of character qualities I have, strengthened the ones I already have and I am sure it will help me in the future.
From your experience collected here, what would you wish for all the Baristas working here?
I would say, do not stop learning and growing. Keep asking, watching and taking everything in. And I want team to know, that it‘s always good to be together, when everyone goes an extra mile to feel like a family. To look after each other, give extra push so everyone can grow, and be united as one. Usually, I would prefer doing everything alone, but I felt great being a part of BREW community, I love how we are not only colleagues, but also friends.
So keep growing, learning, stay united and keep it beautiful.