Meet The Team: Deanna Ayres

Welcome back to Weeva’s “Meet The Team” time! This week we are introducing Deanna Ayres – Community Manager & Happiness Hero. If you’ve ever used our chat, there is a 99.9% chance that you communicated with her. If you’ve made a book with us, there is a chance you emailed with her at some point. Rumor has it, she even gets on the phone with customers ;)! As with trust, you need a sense of humor and a hefty dose of happiness. At Weeva, we work with life events- everything from the birth of a child to memorial books. Sometimes those books can be difficult and we hope we can help you make it a positive experience that allows you to remember the person with love & happiness. Without further ado – introducing one of our most introverted but talkative team members:

Deanna Ayres – Community Manager & Happiness Hero

What is your position at Weeva and what’s your favorite part of your job and why?

I am the community manager so I work with the Weeva community every day. I run customer success, our social media presence, the blog, and then some stuff in between :). BUT I love what we do so it doesn’t feel like work most of the time. My favorite part of my job? That’s hard because really, I started working at Weeva because the company has meaning. It’s not just your average “Hey, we are a company and we want money.” At Weeva, we all work because we recognize how important memories, life stories, pictures, and family and friends are. We pour our hearts and souls into each book, each customer, each decision we make because we want you to have a fantastic experience and an amazing keepsake to pass on. And of course, we want you to come back and make more books, and tell your family and friends. Because really, we want everyone to have our Weeva books. We want people to know how much they mean to someone. To connect. I guess my favorite part about my job is that I get to connect with people that care so much about someone else that they make a book for them <3.

At Weeva, we work a lot with pictures, stories, and memories – how has that changed your perception in terms of creating & preserving memories?

That we don’t do it enough. Seriously. Since I started working at Weeva, I have realized how much we did not document in our marriage, our family, for the kids. Our kids ask us about stories from our childhood all the time, and about grandparents and what life was like. My grandma has Alzheimer’s and it breaks my heart because she has so many stories and memories that are lost every day, and I am here in the US, while she is in Germany. I am making a book with my memories – if nothing else, I can capture her essence, her recipes, and the great person she was when I grew up so I can share that with my children. You never know when time runs out and stories will be lost forever. It’s not easy when you let that sink in, but it makes it that much more important to preserve it all.

If you could tell our customers what the best part of a Weeva book is what would that be?

I want to say creating it, but it’s definitely giving it. When I made a book for my sister in law for her wedding and it took forever because my husband insisted on writing his story just right. I won’t lie, I got a touch annoyed, because write a dang memory and story and wish for her future already.. but after he had his thoughts organized, and written down, it was worth the wait. It was beautiful and touched my soul. I was super excited when I saw the first PDF and when it came I was over the moon – it exceeded my expectations and I work here haha. Then I had to keep it a secret until her birthday. We had a family vacation at the beach with everyone present. When I showed my parents (in law) they cried because they were touched by all the stories. But then it was time to give it to her. And she loved it. She read each story, slowly, savoring each memory, each picture, she cried, she laughed, she cried some more, she cradled the book, she held it tight, she hugged us all, and couldn’t find the words to express her gratitude. That right there, is the best part of a Weeva book.

wedding book, anniversary book, quotes, love quotes, marriage book,
They had such a beautiful wedding, and I love them so much!

Pictures vs. Stories.. or both?

Both. Stories give pictures life and meaning. And pictures bring quotes to life. There is so much you can do with memories a healthy mix of it all is what you want.

If you could only make one Weeva book, who would it be for, about, and why?

I came up with these questions, and now I struggle because these are hard to answer! While I love many people and want them all to have a book, if I could only make one, I would make it for my daughters. I would include our family histories, what I know about their ancestry, about us, about them growing up, what I want for them, quotes about life, wisdom, I’d include a chapter about failing and that it’s okay to fail if you get back up, a chapter about unconditional love, a chapter with German recipes, pictures, and so much more, so that when or if something would happen, they had memories to hold on to, a place to go back to and look for advice, a book of life of sorts I guess.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Ah, there are so many to chose from. I grew up in Germany in a multigenerational home – my parents live downstairs, my grandparents live in the middle apartment and what used to be the attic is now my sister’s apartment. Growing up, my fondest and most favorite childhood memories include all of my family. In the summer, out back, grilling steaks and sausages, helping my mom make salad, stealing a boiled egg from my grandma as she made German potato salad, and then sitting under the starry sky at night, by the fire, laughing, singing old German songs, talking, and just spending time together. Sometimes family would stop by and hang out too, like my god-father Horst, whom I miss dearly. Every time we had a get together he’d sing “Und immer wieder geht die Sonne auf!” (And the sun rises over and over again) with a big smile on his face. I’ll never forget that.

godfather, miss you, family book,
My great uncle and godfather Horst <3
grandpa, team,
My grandpa and niece outside
My grandma and daughter

Who is/was the biggest inspiration in your life?

Ahh, as much as I want to say my parents, it has to be my grandparents. They have worked hard, every single day of their life. My grandparents overcame so much growing up right after the war, rough childhoods, and then some. Together, they have built their house from the bottom up, with the help of family and friends, provided a home to us, taught us gardening, cooking, took us places, and were hard on me when I needed it. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did all that too, but Oma and Opa stepped in when my parents worked, they helped get us ready in the morning, and as much as I hated it back then, they instilled a work ethic in me that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. And the love my grandpa has for my grandma is something that makes my heart skip a beat!
But also my husband. A  former soldier with a purple heart, a police officer, he has seen some crazy stuff, has been hurt, away from family and friends, and has prevailed and thrived through it all. He’s the quiet rock behind the quirky wife.

Professionally, my biggest inspiration has been Buffer. I am sure my team is tired of hearing me talk about it but I am obsessed with the Buffer culture, the mentality, the transparency, and the fact that they are changing the startup culture. I am their biggest fan and I can’t thank them enough for changing my career – and they have no idea. Buffer inspired so much growth professionally, that it also carried over into my personal life.

Favorite pet(s)?

Ha! All of them. It starts with my first rabbit, continues with my Newfoundland Laika I grew up with, to my rescue dogs and cat I have now. They truly fill my heart and soul with so much love, I’ll be beyond heartbroken when they cross the rainbow bridge.

Pip – the manx
My 3 lovely rescues <3

Tell us something unique about you?

I play D&D, World of Warcraft, and I love all things Cosplay, Magic, and fantasy? I have an insane collection of coffee cups too.. oh well, and then there is the fact that I am an excellent swimmer.. so good in fact that when I was a teenager, I was part of “Youth trains for Olympia” and placed second in backstroke. Oh, and I have misophonia – yes, the condition where you get irrationally angry at sounds. It’s a thing.

Another unique fact?  I attend the UFC gym and both box and kickbox. Yeah, so I am pretty different I guess. The kickboxing, noise sensitive, wizard loving, nerd. 😀

Tea or Coffee?

Coffeeeeeee! It’s lifeblood. My husband says I make my coffee so strong they call it rock gut. I have a beautiful machine that grinds the coffee, tempers it, and makes the most delicious black liquid gold, and then steams the milk to perfection, and has adjustable temps.. But I also have a Ninja IQ which is the bomb for quick cups. If you can’t tell, I am just slightly obsessed with coffee – but at night, I have mint tea. Every night. 1 cup.

I love coffee and coffee cups and my 4 legged family

Favorite Music?

Classical Piano is by far my favorite music. Followed by Final Fantasy music, Jason Mraz, 90’s, opera, and Ed Sheeran & Adele. I really, really love Ed Sheeran & Adele & Jason Mraz. Maybe that’s because they are musical storytellers and I can totally relate and feel what they are singing. I love music, I need it – I do my best work listening to classical music. Music makes my soul bloom. Want to listen to what I listen to while I am writing this? Check out this youtube video:

Favorite Books?

I really need to rethink these questions. I didn’t realize how hard they were haha.

  • R.A Salvatore – All of them. I have read 80% of his books and have a stack to go. If you love elves, fantasy, magic, he is your guy. Really, Ed Green too, because I’m in love with Elminster. SO, truly, any “Forgotten Realms” books. Because, I think, I read almost all of them.
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • Grimm’s Fairytales – The Originals, in all their brutal true tales
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Books are amazing and this is just a small sampling of the books I read. My kids and my husband love reading as much as I do and we counted books this summer.. we had 731 books collectively in July. And I bought 21 more just for my oldest for her birthday and Christmas.. sooooo…

A place you’ve been and loved and a place you want to visit and why?

Italy. I will forever love Italy. The food, the people, the language, the beautiful country, everything. I’d live there if I could. I worked in Italy for a month when I was 18 – loved it!
I am dying to visit Ireland and Scotland though – I have this thing with green grass. Plus I love the movie PS: I love you..

Favorite quote?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” – Albert Einstein

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

Speak any other languages?

Sure do! Since I grew up in Germany and went to school there, I am fluent in German. I speak and understand basic Italian,  I understand basic French and I am trying to learn Spanish but I struggle with pronunciation.

So, that’s it 🙂 That’s a little bit about me, your quirky Weeva community manager <3