• Nelson Marehalau

Onesie Upon a Time

This is Nelson. He is a senior designer here at Research Innovations, and what follows is a reflection on his initial experience with a beloved RII tradition.



My Onesie Tuesday story coincides with the beginning of my RII experience. Around this same time last year, I reached the end of my job search and accepted an offer from RII. My new teammate and coach, Rachael, welcomed me with the normal pleasantries: inviting me to a first-day lunch, helping me prep my new work area, asking me how to pronounce my last name correctly (Muh-RAY-ha-lau). Normal on-boarding things. But tucked among the routine exchanges was an invitation to a company event unique to RII that would take place within a week of my first day. Here's an excerpt from Rachael's welcome email to me:


We call it Onesie Tuesday and it’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving each year. We all wear onesies around the office all day and stay nice and cozy. Not everyone participates, and you don’t ever have to, but it is highly encouraged and there are dozens of us - dozens - who don onesies every year.


On the same day, there’d be a potluck for us all to share a pre-Thanksgiving meal. I’ve worked at companies that had Thanksgiving potlucks and places that promoted “dress like…” theme days, but this was the first place that invited me to eat that meal in a comfy costume. It was different, and not just different for the sake of checking the “quirky workplace” box. There was actual thought and effort put into coming up with a fun way to celebrate the holiday week. As I got to know my coworkers and the people who lead the charge on these kinds of things, it became apparent that they genuinely wanted everyone to laugh (see Ham Poetry), relax, and enjoy themselves at work before taking some time off. I believe that’s the goal of many good companies, but it doesn’t always pan out. All the pictures and words in this post are my evidence that I landed in a place where it absolutely works.


ALL IMAGES POSTED (except last one) ARE FROM 2019

None of these people even knew it was Onesie Tuesday.

Ours is a generational story. This tradition will endure.

Everyone politely waiting for their orders. Some say they're still waiting to this day.

So much wonderful food. Some say they're still eating to this day.

A quick Amazon search led me to my first onesie. Never owned one before, so I browsed through pictures of past Onesie Tuesdays for some guidance. It confirmed my suspicions that most everyone I worked with was a proud geek of some sort and that nothing I’d choose would be too off-the-wall for them. Somehow, I still managed to choose something nice and boring in comparison to everyone else’s amazing outfits. Which was fine. I'd just started—I wasn't trying to make waves. I was just happy to be invited to the party. And a party it was...


Design Team rockin' the Ones 'n Tues.

That's our founder, Rich, on the right. I'm still too new to say anything funny here.

I'll never forget that brownie—it really tied the room together.

All the onesies! It was fun herding us all together for this group pic.

Like a wedding day, it was fun and fast and I have to look through the pictures to remember exactly what happened. But I do remember posting about it on social media and my friends and former coworkers asking what the hell kind of magical place I landed in. As a compliant government contractor, I replied: “that’s classified.”




And here we are, one year later, unable to enjoy each other’s physical presence and fly our onesie geek flags in person. Like so much else in 2020, we’ve adapted to keep the tradition going via webcams and selfies. The pandemic may have changed how we celebrate moments like these, but we've kept the spirit of the day thriving through our creativity and humor. Last year I was a new guest at the party, but now I'm an active member of the team, doing my part to hype this event. I've illustrated reminders and announcements, made collages for social media, and one time, even wrote a blog post ; )


Happy Onesie Tuesday to you.


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