No Matter How Far Out the Chore, Nancy Marks and Ava Minsky Have Just the Help That's Wanted
Cheer up, all you unemployed Dead Fish Pluckers. And smile, all you laid-off Fortune Cookie Stutters. Your future is assured. Nancy and Ava are going to find jobs for you.
That’s Nancy Marks, 33, and Ava Minsky, 32, co-owners of the Job Factory, a Los Angeles employment agency that specializes in “the most unusual jobs in the world.” Unusual as in: Casket Inspector (salary $6 an hour), Magic Wand Maker ($5 an hour) and the aforementioned Dead Fish Plucker ($11 to $15 an hour). “That’s the person who picks out the dead tropical fish before they’re shipped to pet stores,” explains Ava.
Business is booming at the Job Factory, which has opened three new branches in the past three months and plans to franchise nationally over the next two years. It was just five years ago that Nancy and Ava bought a traditional employment operation for $2,500 and decided—as a PR gimmick—to feature off-the-wall job opportunities. “We did it to be different,” says Nancy. “We knew we couldn’t compete against the big agencies.” Another innovation: Work seekers pay $35 for three months of access to its employment listings. Employers pay nothing. “By not charging employers, as most agencies do, we get more jobs. So if you want a job, you’ll get one here,” says Ava, who estimates the job-to-people ratio at three to one. “We’ve never been able to keep up with the demands of employers, not even during the recession.”
Job Factory clients run the gamut from aspiring writers and actors seeking part-time work to housewives hoping to reenter the labor force. “We even get executives who are tired of the rat race,” says Nancy. “We call it the mid-life crisis market.”
Not all the work Marks and Minsky offer is of the distinctly odd variety. In fact about 70 percent of the jobs are reasonably traditional. There’s the standard meat-and-potatoes office job, like receptionist—okay, singing receptionist ($7.50 an hour). There are management positions offering salaries around $25,000. However, if that’s too staid there’s always: Mosquito Bitee (the pay is $15 an hour from the insect-repellent firm that uses you as a human lunch for its mosquitoes); Flying Fish Spotter ($40,000 a year, the airplane pilot who spots schools of fish and radios their position to a commercial fishing fleet); Tap-Dancing Cupcake ($30 an hour, specializing in bakers’ conventions); Bone Picker ($11 an hour, picking bones out of tuna for a canning company, dead fish plucking experience a big plus).
Some jobs prove so amusing that Marks and Minsky cannot resist filling the positions themselves. Both signed up to be Party Bunnies ($125 per party). Says Ava, “Being as sweet and naive as she is, Nancy thought we were going to wear bunny suits with big floppy ears and lots of fur.” Ava Minsky, daughter of Harold Minsky, the renowned burlesque impresario, knew better. “We wore skimpy, sexy, Playboy-type costumes,” she says, laughing.
For the partners, perhaps no job order was as tricky to fill as Bad Skin Model. The money was fine ($50 per hour). It just presented certain etiquette problems. What the acne medicine company was seeking was the “before” for a before-and-after photo. “What do you say to someone?” asks Ava. ” ‘Oh, you have such bad skin’?” Yet when the perfect candidate walked in the door, Marks and Minsky overcame their squeamishness. “If you’re stricken with acne, you might as well make a profit from it,” reasons Nancy, adding what could well be the Job Factory’s motto: “Just proves there’s something for everybody out there.”