Every February, we honor Black History Month, a time for reflection, rejuvenation and the celebration of the enduring influence of Black people, not only throughout American and Canadian History, but also World History. At AEO, we celebrate Black History in a way that reflects the rich diversity of the experiences, culture and contributions of Black people. Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting AEO associates to share why Black History Month is important to them.
When it comes to the bustling excitement of the retail world, there is no market quite like NYC! Just ask Mecca, AE District Team Leader in the New York metro area, who leads a team of more than 300 associates. Mecca has been part of the AEO team for three years and says the secret to her success is a happy and engaged team. We sat down (virtually) with Mecca to chat about her role and the importance of Black History Month in her life.
What does a District Team Leader do?
My job is to make the store experience the BEST experience for my guests, but most importantly for my team of associates. I am always hyper-focused on my store teams, because when you have a great culture and an engaged team, results speak for themselves – and customers pick up on that energy.
You lead the Inclusion & Diversity efforts for store teams. Tell us about your role and what you hope to achieve?
AEO is doing great work when it comes to I&D initiatives, however we wanted a way to engage our associates and give them a chance to be heard and to take an active role in creating change. That’s why we established the I&D Store Council. This group represents the voice of AE & Aerie store associates – all 35K of them– and it’s my duty to ensure that feedback is a part of AEO’s corporate I&D goals. That’s the beauty of the I&D work at AEO- it’s truly associate driven!
Why do you love working for AE?
There is so much optimism in the team and in our customers. I feel like my team and our customer ARE the future and to work for a place where we can help influence and shape the future is unbeatable.
Why are you proud to be a Black American?
Everything from the traditions, the culture, the food – you name it! I attended a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) where I had the opportunity to join an amazing group of women in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. This group of women have done so much on a national level to give back to communities in need. From critical education and economic development to sending underprivileged youth to college– to witness the impact this group has made is the greatest reward!
What is your favorite thing about Black culture?
I am from Queens so music has had a huge impact on my life. I grew up with east coast hip hop and I still love it, especially Biggie and Jay-Z! There have been so many pivotal musicians who have impacted my life – from Michael Jackson and Anita Baker, to my all-time favorite, Mary J. Blige!
Who is a Black role model who has inspired you in life?
My Aunt Barbara- she was one of the first women in my family to go to law school. She had an extremely successful career in law and was even featured as one of the “DC Women in Politics.” However, she gave up her practice to take care of my grandmother. I will always admire her work ethic and perseverance in her career, but most importantly I admire how she cares for our family and those around her.