AEO Pride Spotlight: Jenn, AE District 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!

Jenn started her career in retail with a part time summer job and no intention of staying in retail long term. She attended Kent State University and originally wanted to become an Interior Designer, but 15 years later, she realized her heart was in the mall, not in the home. She’s been a member of the AE family for 2 years – starting out as a Store Team Leader and quickly being promoted to District Team Leader.

Q. You started with AE as a Store Team Leader and were quickly promoted to District Team Leader. What did that progression look like?
I joined AE at Easton Town Center. This mall is home to many other really strong, flagship stores so I was immediately challenged to create a “flagship” experience for AE. I had a lot of work to do and the team worked hard building up the store over the course of a year – and we made it happen! The defining moment of this role for me was when the Field Leadership Team used my store as the example for a Back to School planning meeting. I was so excited that this store, through the teams hard work, was now the example for the company. I was promoted to District Team Leader shortly thereafter.

Q. What does your role look like day to day?
I lead 10 stores in the Southwest Ohio market. My goal is to ensure all messages are clear and consistent across each store – this includes ensuring teams are maintaining brand standards and that all tools and resources available are being utilized. I’m constantly looking for ways to empower my teams to be better leaders and business owners and thinking in the mindset of “how do we create the best experience for our guests?”

Q. How would you describe yourself as a leader?
I always say “we win together, we lose together”. When I think back on my career, I was so much more successful in times where I was allowed to do my job – without being mico-managed or told what to do. I try to encourage my team to be the owners of their business. I know we will all succeed if they are trusted to do their jobs and empowered to find new ways to be successful.

Q. You’ve been here 2 years now. What is it that you love about AEO?
I love the “People First” philosophy. It’s not only about associates, but it’s about customers, too. We’re always willing to do what is right for our associates and our guests to make sure they feel that sense of belonging. It’s not about fitting into a mold here, it’s about individuality and being yourself and I love that. From day 1, I could tell this company truly cares about ALL people.

Q. What advice would you give to members of the LGBTQ+ community thinking about joining AEO?
What better brand to work for than AEO? We’re so supportive – from the organizations where we donate, to having dedicated Pride collections – we’re not afraid to stand up for what we support.

When it comes to finding a company to work for, do your research and see who has been through the good, the bad, the ugly and who is still here. Those are the companies that will thrive when things gets tough, they are companies that always do the right thing, practice what they preach and have great product!