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Selfie erases student loan debt 

Just a few weeks ago, Cathy Roebuck was struggling to find money for her wedding while dealing with a student loan debt. 

But on a whim, she entered Old Navy’s 20th Birthday #Selfiebration contest, where people tweeted selfies and a personal wish that could be granted by the brand. Cathy’s wish? “Help me pay off my student loans so I can pay for my wedding!”

Wish granted.

“I don’t win contests. I’m the person who goes into a casino, and I usually lose all our money, so this was just a real surprise,” she said.

Cathy was one of three winners chosen out of 14,000 entries. They were evaluated based on creativity, originality and quality of submission.

“I’m not one to take a lot of selfies, I just happened to have one that was from my engagement so I figured ‘Ah, people love engagements, I’ll tweet that one out,’” Cathy, an Ohio University graduate, said. “I really was not expecting anything to come of it until I got a message and I nearly had a heart attack at work.”

Her fiancé, Chris Mace, had a similar reaction.

“I called (Chris) when he was at work and I said ‘So, I just won $10,000,’” Cathy recalled. “And he was like, ‘Someone’s just going to cut us a check for 10 grand? And I said ‘No, it’s coming from Old Navy.

And now, thanks to Old Navy, she’s shifted from wedding woes to full planning mode.

“It does make a really big difference. It’s not a small amount of money for someone to randomly win,” she said. “I was just talking to my coworkers about how weddings are so expensive and it’s going to take forever to save up for. And then it was like, ‘Nevermind!’”


Old Navy will open in the Middle East

Old Navy just announced that it will open in the Middle East – the brand’s next franchise move since expanding into the Philippines in March.

Next spring, we’ll open stores in Dubai, UAE; Kuwait City, Kuwait; and Doha, Qatar as well as Riyadh and Dammam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with local franchise partners Azadea and Al Hokair.

To get more of an understanding of this big move, we chatted with Blair Dunn, General Manager Franchising & Mexico, Old Navy.

Q: So, how does Old Navy’s growth story fit into Gap Inc.’s growth story?

A: Old Navy launched in the U.S. in 1994 and Canada in 2001. But taking Old Navy beyond North America is a fairly recent phenomenon, beginning with Japan in 2012.

Franchising Old Navy provides us the opportunity to partner with excellent local business partners and open stores quickly, efficiently and economically.

For Gap Inc. to become the world’s favorite for American style, we need to be number one. To be number one we need to grow fast and grow strong. Old Navy is the ticket.

Q: Why the Middle East?

A: Opening in the Middle East after we successfully launched our Old Navy franchise business in the Philippines has always been the plan. 

The region is super attractive to us - highly developed economies and a large base of middle-income customers. Plus, shopping as a family is huge in Middle East, which plays perfectly to Old Navy’s brand proposition. Laws require a local partner to operate businesses there so this is a natural franchise fit for us. 

Q: What does the future of Old Navy in the Middle East look like, and what are you most excited about?

A: Seeing the Old Navy experience fully realized in all these different markets is incredibly rewarding and exciting for us, especially in the Middle East, where things are so different. It’s been a great learning experience for everyone involved.

It’s a challenge, for sure, but providing the Old Navy experience to customers in a way that is culturally relevant to them around the world is a beautiful thing.


Imagine your holiday with new GapKids collection

Your holiday road trip awaits – complete with some charming looks for the kids.

On Oct. 30, Gap launches kate spade new york & Jack Spade for GapKids, a limited edition kids and toddlers apparel and accessories collection for Holiday 2014.

The collection is inspired by classic kate spade new york and Jack Spade looks, infused with a child’s carefree sense of adventure. The marketing follows a brother and sister on an imaginary, magical journey to grandma’s house for the holidays.

“Collaborating with iconic American brands such as kate spade new york and Jack Spade is a way of bringing style and optimism to the GapKids customer,” said Rebekka Bay, creative director and EVP, Gap Global Design.

The collection has everything to find the perfect gift for every kid – from flare dresses and graphic sweatshirts (“Skirt the Rules,” reads one), to button down tops with the kate spade new york signature bow print. Mittens, hats and other accessories feature whimsical graphics, paying tribute to the fun and quirky nature of the Spade brands. (Who doesn’t love kids’ product with googly eyes?)

See some of the looks from the collection below. The kate spade new york & Jack Spade for GapKids collections launches in select Gap stores in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Hong Kong and Japan and on on Oct. 30. 


My 25 years with Gap Canada

In celebration of Gap Canada’s 25th anniversary, we talked to longtime store manager Raina Stein, who has been with the brand since it first headed north. 

In 1989, Raina Stein was studying at York University to become a French teacher, but her plans soon shifted when she was hired at Gap. Fondly looking back now, she says there’s no doubt her switch to a retail career is directly linked to the brand’s launch in Canada 25 years ago.

“If you got into Gap, it was like ‘Retail University.’ Everyone respected the infrastructure. It was a proud moment when I started,” says Stein, now an assistant customer experience manager at Gap Bloor St. in Toronto.

As Raina tells it, it’s been quite the 25 years.

There was the in-store proposal from a persistent admirer in 1994. There was her sister’s 2000 wedding where she wore a Gap cotton shirt – Raina’s nod to Sharon Stone’s buzzworthy red carpet maneuver. There were the times she dyed Gap white limited edition pieces black – her favourite colour.

But Raina credits Gap’s ability to evolve as one of the main reasons she’s remained with the company.

“Gap has always been innovative and continues to evolve which is what I love about it,” she said. “The core values of the company have not changed. They care about their people and empower their leaders.”

And it’s Raina’s passion that Gap seems to love just as much about her. In this day and age where followers and likes are virtual gold, the loyalty Raina’s customers have to her attests to her charismatic persona that keeps people coming back.

On any given day, you can find her with a pair of skinny jeans draped over her shoulder, dressing some of the same people she first connected with in 1989. The difference now is she’s styling their children and grandchildren too.

“Gap is right on trend and we know what we’re doing,” she says like a proud aunt. “The fabrics are amazing but at the same time we’re getting back to where we came from and people love it.”


Gap Inc.’s Eric Severson to serve on national innovation council

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has appointed Gap Inc.’s own Eric Severson to serve a two-year term on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE).

Eric, senior vice president of Global Talent Solutions for Gap Inc., will join 26 other members in providing advice and counsel to Secretary Pritzker and the Department of Commerce on issues that will help U.S. communities, businesses, and the workforce become more globally competitive.

“Through our ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ the Commerce Department has prioritized supporting entrepreneurs and helping foster innovation, which are key drivers of America’s global competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “I look forward to working with the Council to advance innovation and cultivate a skilled workforce for today’s 21st century jobs.”

Eric oversees talent management and workforce development across Gap Inc. He’s been a champion in defining what sets Gap Inc. apart as an employer and place to build a career. He has been the driving force behind a number of innovative talent management practices over the years, including our new employee performance process, the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), and the Gap Inc. Diversity Council.

He also was a major proponent for recent decisions like our plans to increase the minimum hourly wage to $10 in 2015 for U.S. store employees. He’s worked hard to reinforce our longstanding commitment to equal pay for equal work; and aiding the company in earning a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index for the 9th straight year.

“At Gap Inc., we are constantly evolving the way we do business to attract and retain the best talent in the industry," Eric said. "We recognize that doing more to invest in workforce development, job readiness training and youth opportunity programs is not only a smart business decision, it’s also the right thing to do.”