Staff Spotlight #2: Erica Basta
Sitting down with Erica Basta, Kindred’s Reception Manager, I wonder how many interesting questions I actually have around the reservations system. Something about a preference for Google or Apple? Email or telephone, maybe? “Ask me anything” she says, cheerfully “I don’t mind, I am a very honest person. Just don’t ask me about my sex life”.
The Italian is disarmingly forthright. Her easy smile and a dry sense of humour somehow put topics like that on the table at the same time as whisking them straight off. It’s a charm which serves her well as Kindred’s gatekeeper, giving the first experience most people will have with the wider business. After ten years in hospitality and now in her sixth in London, Erica brings more than a smile to the role, but it’s one which is quite different to what she’s done before.
“I started working in hospitality when I was 18, when I was in Italy. Then I moved to London and I’ve been working in the same company, in different restaurants and moving all around over five years. There was a possibility to grow, but that was not what I was looking for” Erica explains. “After five years I felt a little bit stuck in what I was doing and wanted to step away from that department a little bit… I know that I could grow in hospitality very easily because of my experience, the fact I didn’t want to do this was just personal. I don’t put any more passion in this, so for me, there’s no sense to follow.
My mother told me from when I was very young, if you do a job, whether you like if or not, you do it properly, you give it your best. Just because I did this, doesn’t mean it’s where my passion is.”
When typing up these meetings with members of the Kindred community, there’s always the hope of properly summing up the conversation. For Erica, just typing GROWTH and PASSION in bold, size 72 font and leaving it at that would probably have done the job (something stylish though, no Comic Sans). The concepts cropped up regularly, and it was clear that her previous career didn’t provide enough of either. An offer of a significant promotion wasn’t enough to keep her, and unhappiness had grown. When Kindred came calling, with its ambitious plans for events, a members community and the more conventional food and drink side, it offered the sort of change Erica was looking for.
“Even if Kindred is not what I consider my passion it was something different. Being something different, something new, something fresh that is automatically something I can give my best to. Wherever there is a challenge somehow, that is something I feel I can put all of myself into”.
Joining a new organisation with no guarantees and no history might have looked like a step down for someone from a successful established operation across London, but that isn’t how she chose to look at it during her interview and trial. “There was a lot of work in progress, but I didn’t want to have a negative vision of it, to consider that as a problem. I’d rather consider it as being very new, meaning we could literally create the building and how it would work from zero, from scratch… I felt motivated for this. I felt able to contribute. I needed to adapt, but I could actually put my hands on this and create”.
But what about the drive to connect and build community? Did the lofty goals and values of a members club and a co-working space with a sense of community appeal to her?
“I thought ‘Hmmm, that’s never going to happen’” she says, expanding on what now seems like her initial understated suggestion of slight scepticism “It’s something that is very, very unusual. You don’t see much of it. But..it surprised me, to see that this was actually happening, even for myself. Its something that’s very satisfying, because I’m part of it”.
With friendships found in both the staff and them members, Erica cuts a happy figure, but not a content one. As positive as she is about the Kindred journey so far, there is only one true passion for her – photography. Growth and challenge are clearly important, but there is a clear destination in mind. “My ultimate goal would be to a professional photographer only. I hope that I’ll be able to move on from any job that isn’t photography”.
In some ways, talking to Erica feels like talking to a freelancer or entrepreneur. The conversation might be about the job now, but the language is that of a woman on a mission. Whether it’s Kindred or elsewhere, the need to do well, be challenged and do her best is clear, but there’s a fire that lights only for photography. Doing something properly now doesn’t mean it’s the raison d’être, but it does have a part to play. Just not the most important part.
“Photography is something that gives me a lot of sense of happiness. So if in order to have photography for a job for good, for a living, would require me to move somewhere else I would do it. Photography in my mind is above everything else. Everything, everyone. Friendship… relationships… whatever. Photography comes first.”
I ask if I should include a link to her Instagram page with this piece, to showcase her photographs. She looks at me as if I’d casually mentioned I was planning on marrying my lampshade. Everything about her expression says “you could do that but….” and it is patiently explained to me that, for carefully curated photographs only ever taken on film, visiting ericabasta.com would give the best experience. For someone who doesn’t like settling for less than the best, that approach doesn’t come as a surprise.
This post forms part of a series of behind-the-scenes interviews with members of the Kindred team and community
Written by Sam Hampson, Kindred member and freelance writer.
Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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