AEO Pride Spotlight: Antoine, Selling Team Leader

At AEO, we celebrate the diversity of one through the inclusion of many. Throughout the month of June, we will be celebrating associates who are members of the LGBTQ+ community – highlighting their accomplishments, learning about their unique roles and hearing about their experience at AEO!

When he’s not belting his lungs out to his hero, Mariah Carey, Antoine can be found leading the sales team at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, TX. He joined the AEO family back in 2011 as an American Eagle Brand Ambassador, but left for another retailer a few years later. It didn’t take long for him to realize his heart was still at AE, and he returned ready to grow his leadership skills. Antoine brings the fun factor to his teams day in and day out and he prides himself on creating an atmosphere where everyone can be themselves.

Q. So you left AE, but came back. What is so special to you about the AEO Family?
When I look back, AE was the first company where I worked with a bunch of diverse individuals – it was a whole melting pot of people. When I started, it was 2 years before I came out, so being around such great people helped push me to be who I was. What I love about the people at AE is that those who I had grown to love before coming out still loved and accepted me after. Many of those people have become my life long friends and I know they will always love and support me for who I am.

Q. Tell us about your current role.
I am currently a Selling Team Leader. My role essentially is to train associates on how to sell through coaching and on-going development. In reality, though, I think of myself as someone who brings the fun factor in my store. I always encourage my team to have fun – it’s not always about the business, sometimes it’s just about creating a fun, positive atmosphere with your team.

Q. Your team sounds awesome! What is your dynamic like?
I like to say “one team, one dream!” We’re all here for the same purpose and we can’t do it alone- we all need each other. Having a team that has adopted that mentality naturally makes work not only more successful, but more fun.

Q. What one thing in your career are you really proud of?
I’m proud of how quickly I’ve grown. I started at AE as a Seasonal Brand Ambassador and was able to come back and grow into the role of Selling Team Leader, which was a goal of mine. Also, being a leader in my store, it’s been so great to help grow and develop others on my team into leadership roles.

Q. How has AE helped you live your REAL self?
I love that American Eagle embraces the different and diverse individuals who come to work for us. I think that it helps push other people to be their true selves. Even for me, I love and respect that I work for a brand where I can be who I want to be without being judged by anyone. I look back now, 8 years later, and I smile because I wonder if I hadn’t joined this company, would I be where I am today?

Q. What advice would you give members of the LGBTQ+ community looking to start their career?
I think the biggest thing is not being afraid to ask, “how does this company support me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?” You have to ask those hard-hitting questions because at the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with the brand you’re working for.

I’ve had a lot of friends from other retailers and I’ve worked other places as well, and it’s well known that AEO is true to their values and beliefs. When it comes to what we stand for as an organization, this is really the brand to work for.