March 2, 2016 Opportunity

It’s All Relative: Working with Family Members at Starbucks

Colleagues at work can sometimes feel like family. At Starbucks, it’s common for coworkers to share the same family tree. Starbucks partners (employees) discuss the benefits of working with spouses, parents or children.

Aligning with Starbucks Values

Renee Jones was working in Cincinnati, Ohio when Starbucks recruited her five years ago.

“I never thought I would move to Seattle,” said Jones. “But when I arrived, I fell in love with the city.”

Renee’s husband, Randy, worked in Cincinnati for another year before joining her in Seattle. She encouraged him to consider a position at Starbucks.

“Starbucks is a great place to work. It just made sense that Randy work here as well,” she said.

Another year later, Randy came on board. Today, Randy and Renee are both members of Starbucks Category Brand Management team, which develops and promotes products for stores in North America.

“At times it’s hard to pull life and work apart, but it makes for great conversation,” said Renee.

Last year, she was surprised to receive a call from her mother - a retired educator in Topeka, Kansas – about a job at a local Starbucks store.

“I told her to go for it,” she said. “Starbucks has such a diverse workforce. I knew she would enjoy working for the company as much as they would enjoy having her as a partner.”

Renee’s mother will celebrate her one-year anniversary as a Starbucks barista next month.

“Starbucks values align with our beliefs as a family,” Renee said. “Everyone respects one another and humanity. It’s so rewarding to work for a company that is affecting change, not just talking about it.”

The Advantages of Working Together

Newlyweds Linh and Luke Theofelis rarely see one another as they travel from meeting to meeting at Starbucks Support Center (headquarters) in Seattle.

“We’ve been in the building together for three years and have only happened upon one another a handful of times,” said Luke, who is an equipment operations specialist on the Starbucks Channel Development team.


The two met in high school and dated through college. Luke received a position at Starbucks headquarters after he graduated in 2010. As fate would have it, Linh, who had worked as a Starbucks barista while in college, landed a position in the same location.

“It really was a coincidence that we both ended up at Starbucks,” said Linh, a supervisor on the supply chain team. “We had not planned it this way.”

Working together has its advantages. Linh and Luke commute to work and can relate to each other’s careers.

Linh regularly sings the praises of the company and has inspired her cousin, sister and sister-in-law to work at Starbucks stores.

“It’s quite typical to have family working here,” said Linh. “I’m friends with five or six partners who have a spouse who works for the company.

All in the Family

Fifteen years ago, Sage Nord joined Starbucks as a barista, while going to college in San Diego.

“I was introduced to my husband, Mark by a school friend,” said Sage. He would come in to my store for coffee and knew several of the partners there.”

In 2002, Starbucks hired Mark as an assistant store manager. Mark and Sage got married in 2005 and moved to Seattle two years later so she could pursue a Starbucks corporate position while he managed a local store.

“Everyone knows that we’re married,” said Sage, who is now a director on the Supply Chain Operations team. “We have a really good balance and try not to talk too much about work when we’re together.”

Sage appreciates Starbucks for its commitment to providing opportunities for career advancement and great benefits. This prompted her to encourage her brother to join the company. He followed her lead by working in a San Diego store, where he soon met his wife.

“I have encouraged family members to work here and I’ve built great bonds with other partners as well,” she said. “Now 15 years down the road, I know few people who do not work for Starbucks.”

Walking in Her Father’s Footsteps

After spending 28 years serving with the U.S. Army, Dave Van Slambrook began the transition from military to civilian life.

“I attended a job fair, where I learned about Starbucks,” Dave said. “What resonated with me were the company’s values and how closely they were aligned with what the military values.”

Dave joined Starbucks in October 2014 to provide human resources guidance for the Law and Corporate Affairs department.

“This was a new chapter for us as a family,” said Dave’s daughter Caleigh. “I was worried about his transition and if he would find something he’s passionate about. When he started working for Starbucks, he came home excited and had so many great stories to tell.”

When Caleigh visited her dad at Starbucks headquarters, she immediately fell in love with the company too.

“As soon as I walked in the building, I felt a sense of community,” said Caleigh. “I could see people collaborating. It was a very positive atmosphere.”

Unbeknownst to Dave, Caleigh applied for a barista position at her local Starbucks store. She was looking for a flexible work environment as she finished school. After only two months on the job, she was crowned barista of the month.

“Since I was little, I always wanted to be like my dad,” said Caleigh. “It’s great to walk in my dad’s footsteps with my career at Starbucks.”

“There’s a pride you feel as a parent when your child pursues a path that you are also passionate about,” Dave said. “It feels great to be part of the same team.”

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom