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Wednesday
Aug202014

45 years of employee memories

It was 1969, the year of Woodstock, and Neil Armstrong's giant leap for humankind. People were expressing themselves like never before.  

At that same time, on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, Doris and Don Fisher were opening a single store stocked with Levi’s, records and tapes – they never expected to transform retail, but they did, creating a whole new specialty category.

Forty five years, six brands and almost 140,000 employees later, Gap Inc. continues to try new things, to be brave, while holding onto a belief that people can be different, and yet remain fundamentally connected to each other. It’s a brand ethos, and yet this echoes within the company’s values as well.

Doris and Don wanted their company to be a different kind of business, and that fundamental belief – that we care about the communities where we live and work, that we do more than sell clothes – continues.

As we celebrate this birthday, we wanted to have employees across the company share their favorite Gap Inc. moments. Here’s what they said.

Emily Daniello

Emily started as a Gap store associate at 16, and 24 years later, she is working as a Banana Republic marketer. She met her friends here, as well as her husband. She took time off to have kids, and like so many do, she came back.

Here’s her favorite Gap Inc. moment:

“About 15 years ago, I went to Honduras with Gap Inc. to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. There was this whole crew of Gap people from all over the world working side by side with these families. Some of the families were so poor; they were living in these shanties and didn’t have proper clothes or shoes. As we were leaving, one of the guys on our team took his shoes off and gave them to one of the men. And then everyone else did the same thing, so there we were walking to the bus, to leave, with no shoes on. I will never forget it, and I’ll forever feel connected to these people.”

Catrina Lee

Catrina Lee started off as a store associate at 19, 26 years ago, and worked her way up to her position as an HR executive.

She remembers, like it was yesterday, the debut of babyGap.

“I was part of the store team that launched babyGap at Laurel Village in San Francisco. You can imagine the fanfare – we were the first retailer to go after baby clothes in a big way, and there was a ton of excitement around it. So Don Fisher drives up in his wood-paneled station wagon, and it was like a rock star arrived, with him taking pictures with everyone. I was witnessing history with the launching of this new brand. Nothing energized me more than that kind of excitement, and I still have such a deep affinity for the stores.”

Kim Tarantino

Of Old Navy’s 20 years, Kim Tarantino has been with the brand half of that time, in communications.

Her favorite moment? When Old Navy made Scott Rowe, a war veteran and single dad, became an overnight millionaire as part of a holiday contest.

“We thought, this is awesome, so we brought him and his mom and daughters to one of our employee meetings, so people could meet him and I’m telling you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. No matter what kind of a day you were having that day, you left feeling so, so proud. We still keep in touch with him – he didn’t have to go back to the Middle East, and he graduated from the police academy. This really and truly changed his life.”

Jose Davila

Jose Davila, a 9-year Gap veteran who works as a VP, Gap International, has attended store manager conferences around the world for Gap.

Sometimes it’s a family affair.

“I remember this one time in Japan, my wife and kids participated in a fashion show that was part of a store manager conference. The kids were 6 and 2 years old at the time, and my 2-year-old started screaming her lungs out and I had to get up on the catwalk and get her. Even with that, it was a fond memory for me because my family was there and able to take part in an important company moment with me.

“Both kids ended up on holiday posters on backroom walls in every store in the country. We still have that poster.”

Sheila Peters

Sheila Peters, a Senior Vice President in Human Resources, started at Gap at a time when it wasn’t a well-known brand.

“I remember the day Gap went public. That was massive. But then I also think about things like when we decided to offer same-sex benefits. It was the easiest thing in the world to do; there was no press on it, no reason to do it other than that we wanted to. That was really major. I remember the company announcing it and I was really, really proud.”

Connie Hopkins

Connie Hopkins has been here, and only here, since 1973 – that’s 41 years, as Gap Inc.’s longest tenured employee.

She started out as a cash audit clerk, and transitioned job titles over the decades with the times—from paper ledgers and adding machines to automated accounts and laptops—and she’s now a senior business systems analyst in the IT Department.

”I’ve never been bored. There’s always something new to work on,” she said. “I always seem to have something on my to-do list that I say, ‘I still want to do this.’ There are things that I want to accomplish here and ways that I can contribute.”

David Ard

David Ard, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, has been with Old Navy for 10 years, but almost didn’t take the job.

“Looking back, I was concerned that I wouldn’t fit in, because I was uninformed about what made the brand tick. As a recruiter, you have to believe in the brand you’re representing.  

“Fortunately, the person I would come to work for helped me to see how I could grow from the experience of stepping into something that was at the time uncomfortable and unknown.  I took the leap.  Within a few weeks, the thing I was most certain of was that I had found my people and a place where I could thrive.  There’s something powerful and quite electric about Old Navy - the brand, the talent who bring it to life and the culture.  My life lesson here: there are people who know what’s best for you.  Find them, and do what they say.”

MJ Jackson

MJ Jackson has been with the company for 15 years, and works in corporate security.

“A recent trip to India last year afforded me the opportunity to see and meet women in the P.A.C.E. program. Not understanding any of their words, but as they were translated and the level of emotion felt through the way they told their stories (all very different and unique) moved me.  I felt proud to work for a company that truly made a difference, that not only improves business results, but literally changes the lives of how people think about themselves.”

Sachiko Amagai

Sachiko Amagai started in stores in Japan 15 years ago, and worked her way to the translation team at Japan headquarters.

“In Japan, it is rare to get a promotion if you are a woman, or if you are young, but I was promoted to store manager in the second year of my career, right out of college.  You’ll see that in Japan, we have a far higher number of women working at our company compared to other companies. My first store manager was also young, and taught me how to become credible quickly and continuously."

 

Friday
Aug152014

Gap Inc. 45th Birthday: From co-workers to family

Gap is turning 45 this month, and it wouldn’t be a birthday if we didn’t take the opportunity to look back, to take stock.

So, we asked employees to share moments from our history that most stick out most in their minds, moments that represent our business, and the people who work here.

Here’s one such story.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Patti D’Amico was the Banana Republic district manager there.

Almost all of her employees were forced to evacuate, and all five of the area stores were severely damaged, and shut down. Her own house flooded, and yet she chose to go to work every day.

“Gap Inc. employees worked around the clock to help me find everyone on my team,” said Patti, a 27-year Gap Inc. veteran who now recruits for Athleta.

“And then they helped (displaced) employees find a home within other stores that hadn’t been hit. Gap Inc., to me, is the people throughout the country who opened their arms and said, ‘How can we help? What can we do?’” 

As the district team struggled to reopen stores, still more people came to help. And then Gap Foundation volunteer teams rebuilt homes in neighborhoods hit the hardest.

“This is the Gap that I love – the people and the culture that Don and Doris have created that inspires us all to do what is right. I am exceptionally proud to be spending my career here.”

Monday
Aug112014

Defeating that back-to-school self doubt

It’s back-to-school, and students everywhere are starting anew, hoping to make new friends while balancing classes and trying not to spill pudding on their pants during that first cafeteria lunch.

Bottom line: All of it can be scary, and it’s easy to let that self-doubt creep in.

But Old Navy is inspiring kids to be strong with its musical anthem, “Unlimited,” which encourages students to be confident, to reach for their dreams.
 
The back-to-school heroine Isabelle defeats her inner nemesis, the Womp Womp, which represents her nagging self-doubt.

The song was penned by Tony-nominated songwriters Benji Pasek & Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, The Musical; James and the Giant Peach, The Musical; and NBC's Smash), and the Womp Womp creature was designed by Legacy Effects, the people behind Iron Man, Captain America and The Muppets.

The idea is to entertain and engage kids on the platforms where they are naturally consuming content.

While you watch, try to spot cameos by YouTube stars, and then check out their social accounts - they’re also talking about confidence (and beating their own naysaying Womp Womps). An easy way to find the conversation is to search for #BeUnlimited. Or, go to Old Navy's YouTube channel.
 
Net proceeds from downloads of the song on iTunes will support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and creating opportunities for kids there to fulfill their unlimited potential.

For 15 years, Old Navy has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and has a donation drive in stores to match customer donations up to $500,000, bringing the potential total donation to $1 million. 

Friday
Aug082014

Banana Republic’s 360 lifestyle

Trendy sweat pants during the work week? Love it. Have been waiting for it. Don’t ever want it to go out of style.

Even more awesome is that this comes from Banana Republic, known more for office-ready polish. The new chic sweat pant is part of Banana Republic’s new campaign, “The New Look of Banana Republic,” which debuted in stores and online this week. The look is bolder, more unpredictable. And when we say new, we really mean new.

"My goal was showing you can wear a blazer on a weekend or a sweat pant during the week," Marissa Webb, Banana Republic’s creative director and executive vice president of design, told the Wall Street Journal.

This is the brand’s first campaign styled by Marissa, who describes it as the ultimate in hi-lo fashion. You can buy the clothes now, and come September, you’ll start seeing print ads featuring singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc and his wife, recording artist and songwriter Maya Jupiter.

It’s not just about work anymore, but a “360 lifestyle.” #ThenewBR is here, and is the shape of things to come.

Also, check out this Los Angeles Times article on Roland Mouret’s much-anticipated capsule collection, which also debuted this week.

Tuesday
Aug052014

Happy 45th Birthday, Gap Inc.

It was 1969, the year of Woodstock. Richard Nixon was inaugurated as President of the United States. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. People were bell-bottomed, beehived and looking for something new.

And in a corner of San Francisco, Doris and Don Fisher were opening a single store stocked with Levi’s, records and tapes – a place that was all about youth and inclusivity.

Gap Inc. now has more than 3,500 stores and 134,000 employees worldwide, and creative omni-channel endeavors like Reserve in Store to fuel future business.

But the values – The Fishers’ dedication to community, equality and creating opportunities around the world – remain the same.

We are excited to celebrate this birthday because it’s a chance to look ahead, to the next 45 years, but also an opportunity to reflect.

Emily Daniello started as a Gap store associate at 16. Twenty four years later, she is working as a Banana Republic marketer. This story is a common one.

“I finished college to be a teacher, but then I didn’t want to leave. Why would I leave?” she said. “I stayed because I am fulfilled. I have Gap Foundation to do my volunteering, I have my whole circle of friends at Gap Inc., and I even met my husband at the company. I feel empowered to do a great job, and I feel cared about.”

On Instagram, see more of our employees sharing their favorite Gap moments, large and small, paired with #since1969contest.