Ever wonder where AE gets the ideas for all of our cool contests and training for our associates? Ellen G., Manager of Store Experience, and her team brainstorm, create and execute training programs to keep our associates in the know of the latest trends and fashion from AE as well as recognition programs for all of the hard work they put in to helping you find the perfect outfit.
|Ellen G., Manager of Store Experience|
What exactly is in store experience?
Store experience is basically any of the interaction that a customer has with one of our Associates or anything an associate experiences as an employee of AEO – all of our training programs and AEO TV. AEO TV is a weekly television episode that features fashion trends; we interview designers, merchants, and other people that play a role in creating the AEO brand and product. It’s a really cool way to give our associates info. I also manage incentive programs and associate contests. We are always running some sort of associate contest. My team designs and manages all the recognition programs within stores. We have a program we call the Wall of Awesome that allows our associates to be recognized by their managers. I also manage conferences and meetings in the field. Anything the manager or associate experiences in the store, we’ve touched.
How did you get your start with in-store experience?
I was a store manager my senior year of college [at another retailer] and my regional manager knew I had an interest in working in training and moving to corporate, so they asked me to move to the home office in Chicago and I started as a training coordinator and I worked my way up. You go through executing the training to managing the whole department.
What are some of the cool projects you have worked on?
I would say the Cruise Through Holiday contest was pretty cool. We sent our top performing managers and District Managers during the holiday season on cruises.
I get to throw a party for the Field Management when we hit big milestones. When we sold a record number of jeans last fall we threw a huge celebration and it was a lot of fun recognizing the people who are out in the field making it happen.
Where is the coolest place your job has taken you?
I love going to Manhattan. It’s always my favorite place to go, no matter what. It’s just full of so much life and it’s where you see trends start. One thing I love about the Manhattan stores is that associates love fashion and they love what they do, so it is inspirational to be there. I also did a really cool conference in Miami.
What are your inspirations?
In terms of work, I get a lot of personal satisfaction. I love working. It’s really important to me that my job is 50% business and 50% creative, I love that. I love business and I love being creative. I get a lot of inspiration from my team. They’re all really vibrant and all really excited to come up with something new. Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to training. You always have to be updating and changing things.
If you weren’t working at AE, what would you want to be doing?
I would own a lifestyle boutique and sell rehabbed furniture, jewelry, local artists work and other bright stuff. I would just sell all the things that I love.
|One of Ellen’s newly rehabbed chairs.|
What is your personal style?
I would say I possibly over-accessorize sometimes. My personal style is ‘more is more.’ I also appreciate fabulous fitting denim, that’s why I love American Eagle. I would say I love good staples and loud accessories. All you need is either one or two bold pieces or enough understated pieces to make a statement. I’m super into stacking bracelets, rings and wearing multiple necklaces.
What are some of your other hobbies and passions?
I make jewelry. My mom is an artist and she loved jewelry so we always made it together. I don’t sell it anymore because I don’t have time but I love to make it for my family and friends! I also love crafting (only cool stuff) and decorating my house. I also spend way too much time on my iPhone.
I LOVE music: I listen to house music and electronic music. I’ve loved house music since I was in high school. A lot of my friends back home and in Chicago DJ so there’s always a show to go to. Going to see live music is one of my favorite hobbies, my friends and I plan all of our trips around that.
|Ellen (far left) and her friends at a show|
You aren’t a Pittsburgh native… what Pittsburgh spots do you love?
I like Verde, it has a Mexican/Pacifico flair with great fish tacos. I love Tamari, its Argentinean and Asian fusion. I love going to the Strip District (a street full of Italian markets & vendors). I’m Italian and I love a good cured meat and cheese, so my boyfriend and I go every weekend to get fresh meat and cheese. My fave fabric store, Loom, is also in the Strip District. Of all the places I’ve lived Pittsburgh definitely has the prettiest landscape and architecture.