Enrobed in a super sweet disguise, Langley resident Kriston Dean went undercover to see what Purdy's Chocolates was doing right and what could be improved on.
In a television show that airs this Thursday, the 36-year-old Willoughby woman shed her traditional business attire, shoved her long brunette hair up under a black wig, affixed a few tattoos to her otherwise ink-free bod, and donned an apron for the latest episode of Undercover Boss Canada.
Dean is merchandising and marketing director for Purdy's Chocolates. Dubbed the "Chocolate Queen," she's been a member of the six-person executive team for the past half dozen years.
Undercover Boss Canada follows executives as they leave the comfort of their top floor offices to go undercover on the ground floor.
When Purdy's owner Karen Flavelle was first approached about being part of the series, she was game. After all, it's not just an educational opportunity, but a chance to reward employees who go above and beyond. But admittedly, Flavelle spends a lot of time in the stores and at the manufacturing centre in Vancouver. Despite a disguise, it was feared Flavelle was too recognizable.
It came as quite a shock for Dean, when she was asked to take on the task instead. After agreeing it was less than a month later that she was in front of the cameras.
From the factory floor to the chocolate counter in two of their 61 stores, this Chocolate Queen got up close and personal with just how her decisions in the office trickle down to the front lines of the chocolate shops.
That was back in April, when film crews came out to Dean's Langley home to shoot footage of her with her husband Kelly and their two children, 10-yearold Abby and eight-yearold Memphis.
Dean then spent an entire day in wardrobe fine-tuning the more casual, hip, and even "sloppy" costuming they picked out for her, and the better part of another day going over the scheduling and details.
That was followed by a day in disguise in the Southgate Mall store in Edmonton, followed by another at the Erin Mills Mall in Toronto, and a third day in the factory kitchen in Vancouver.
"It was very stressful. I was always looking over my shoulder all the time, expecting someone would recognize me," she told the Langley Advance, noting kitchen duty was the most terrifying of all.
"The most interesting thing for me- the loyalty and dedication that a few of these employes have for this company was way beyond what I expected," she said.
One staff member in particular went out of her way to interact and engage with every customers.
"That's something that can't be taught," Dean said, realizing how moved she was by this women's efforts.
Dean and 120 of her closest friends (okay only a dozen or so close friends and family, with the rest being fellow Purdy's staff) will watch the show in a Vancouver hotel, where Purdy's is hosting its own catered viewing party.
Admittedly, Dean has seen part of the episode, which was reviewed with her a few weeks back to check facts. But she hasn't seen the final, edited episode in its entirety, and said she's anxious and nervous.
"It will be a surprise to everyone," she said.
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