Gretchen Kruesi, Director of Digital Development at Chelsea Green Publishing

Who: Gretchen Kruesi, Director of Digital Development at Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Publishing is an employee-owned publisher based in White River Junction, Vermont. They are recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainability. Gretchen likes to say she does “anything that touches the internet” at Chelsea Green. She is in charge of both the front end and back end of the website, and runs the direct-to-consumer program. 

Why work at VCET when you could work from home? 

Gretchen started working at VCET when she left Chelsea Green Publishing to work at a startup. When Chelsea Green publishing asked her to come back two years later, she agreed, but only if she could continue to work from VCET. 

“I do like working at home, I’m lucky, I have a 3 bedroom to myself so I have a dedicated study, I totally have that space.” Says Gretchen, “But I also live alone, and that can get isolating pretty quickly. Also, Chelsea Green is small so it is great to be in a place where I can be like ‘man, I know enough about this SEO, but there’s this one thing that I’m not quite figuring out. Let me tap someone in the office.’ Sometimes I don’t have the time to figure out something nitty and gritty and I can just have a lunch meeting or with someone or hire them as a contractor to figure it out for us. The coworkers at VCET create that culture.”

Biggest win this year:

“I’m really proud of the team for pivoting really quickly, and pivoting in a way that really served our audience. Immediately we started to produce content that would be beneficial during this time: about sustainability, tips for growing food indoors, or webinars with our authors both to support them because their author tours were canceled but also as a way to provide useful information to our audience. If I meet what I did last year for the rest of the year, we will have our best year ever and probably be up in the 60% – 70% growth rate.” 

Employee owned? 

“We’re a for-profit company, so we want to be in the black, but we have the soul of a non-profit. So we will sometimes publish books that we know probably are not going to break even or not going to be huge sellers but we think they are really important to publish because ideas and words do have power.” 

“Our founders are Ian and Margo Baldwin, Margo is still the publisher, but eventually she won’t be. Usually what happens to small publishing companies is that a lot of your equity is in the company then you sell to one of the big 6 or 7 houses, and you become a name only. You’re no longer in Vermont and you’re an imprint of a New York City based book publisher and not following the same practices that are true to our core and our mission. So it was really important for them that when it was time for them to retire, that Chelsea remained independent, and that it stayed in Vermont… so they decided that employee ownership was the way for that to happen.”

Best Takeout:

Honey Road – “You cannot go wrong with anything you get at honey road, particularly, they have a couple cocktails that are great, and I’m a big cocktail fan of cocktails.”

The Scale Poke Bar – “I’ve recently discovered them. I’ve had it delivered or gone there for takeout pretty much every week for the past month.”