AEO Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month: Sajel S., Director – PR, Influencer & Collaborations Marketing

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. At AEO, we are taking this time to reflect on the significance of the AAPI community as we seek to amplify their voices, stories and contributions.

Meet Sajel S., Director – PR, Influencer & Collaborations Marketing for AE. Sajel shares more about her heritage, upbringing and the importance of diversity in the workplace below.

How long have you been with AEO? What is your current role and can you tell us a little about what you do?

I just had my three year work anniversary at the end of April, 2024!  I work on the American Eagle Marketing team, overseeing PR, Influencer, and Collaborations Marketing.  In this role, it’s about connecting American Eagle with all the things our audience loves – youth culture and trends.  Whether it’s pitching the barrel jean in fun and creative ways, or partnering with talent to launch a campaign or collaboration, these are all the awesome and fun things I work with my team on. 

Tell us about your personal background. How and where did you grow up?

I grew up as the third of three sisters in Exton, PA. My sisters and I were competitive swimmers and it was a key part of my upbringing and childhood. I moved to New Jersey midway through high school and attended Rutgers University upon graduating. From there, I graduated with a major in Psychology and double minor in Biology and Art History.

Growing up, I’m very grateful my parents encouraged us to travel and took us to India to experience our own culture as much as we could.  It influenced me to take different languages in school, study abroad and travel more.

Tell us about your career journey. What were the most important moments? When you started out, did you think you’d be doing what you’re doing today?

After graduating, I knew I wanted to be in a space that involved creative writing, and a bit of psychology.  Marketing ended up as the area that resonated with me – being able to craft compelling campaigns that are persuasive and creative was the perfect mix of the two.  My first job was in magazines at Conde Nast on the beauty editorial team for Lucky Magazine.  From there I moved to luxury beauty PR at La Prairie, because I wanted to work more closely on brand strategy in house.  A few years later, I made my way to the marketing team in fashion at Levi’s in San Francisco and now American Eagle.  

How has your identity shaped your experiences, both in and out of the workplace?

I had a mentor who taught me the importance of diversity in all ways – personal backgrounds, identity, culture, and how important it is to make business decisions with the most diverse group of people you can bring together.  It’s the only way to ensure that the choices you make impact and innovate for our customer and their needs, because you have informed opinions from people of all backgrounds.  If you take the most compelling marketing campaigns – the most thoughtful, the ones that have left lasting impressions, acquired new customers, and you backtrack them to those that were involved in creating and crafting them, you’ll find that the best ones were created by teams that understand every consumer of their brand because the team making decisions represented each one of them.  

That being said, it’s not always easy to convince others to believe that.  My identity has made me much more open to the ideas of others, and to persevere when I believe in something, but it’s also pushed me to be wise in the workplace when finding ways to overcome bias and advocating for others to be heard.  

Do you have any favorite cultural traditions?

I love celebrating Diwali with my family and friends every year. And Holi, the spring festival of colors, is particularly fun with my nieces and nephews because you celebrate with lots of sweets and throwing colored powders to signify the triumph of good over evil. 

How do you celebrate your heritage at work?

By connecting with others on their traditions and backgrounds – even if I’m not able to share my cultures with others of similar backgrounds, I love hearing about what my colleagues do to celebrate traditions with their families.