September 20, 2017
Jessica Flower was a 16-year-old in love with fashion (and with the employee discount) when she signed on as a Gap seasonal hire for the holidays in her hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Twenty-two years later, she’s a Banana Republic District Manager based in Columbus.
“Back then, I would never, ever have imagined that I’d still be with Gap Inc. now,” she says, “but I would absolutely not have it any other way. I grew up with this company!” Jessica talked with us this week about her path from seasonal work to a career she loves.
Do you remember your first day at the Gap? I was so scared! It was my first job ever and I remember thinking, “how do I relate this to anything I’ve done? I’m in high school!” It turned out I didn’t need to worry. I had a great manager—we are actually still in touch via Facebook—who made it a joy to come to work.
What inspired you to stay on after the holiday season ended? I loved the energy in the store and fell in love with the job. I stayed until I graduated high school. Then I transferred to a Gap store near Ohio State University, where I worked all through college and moved up from Sales Associate to Stock Supervisor and Sales Supervisor and eventually Assistant Store Manager. I felt so young having keys to the store and managing others, but it was amazing. I continued to earn more and more responsibility.
Talk a little more about the role your managers played in keeping you on the Gap Inc. team. A lot of times they knew I was ready for more responsibility before I did. When I was a General Manager at Banana Republic and my District Manager was relocating to Florida, she told me I should interview for her job. I came to understand that if somebody was going to give me an opportunity, I knew they weren’t going to let me fail. Every step of the way here, the company invests in you with incredible training and development.
You spent 10 years at Gap stores before you moved over to Banana Republic. What was it like to make that change? It was actually very easy to move. When you have conversations with your manager about what you think might be next for your career and you can leverage relationships with cross brand leaders, your options are unlimited. We have a host of brands under the Gap Inc umbrella which is a competitive advantage.
What’s your next challenge? My daughters are in first and second grades, so the big challenge right now is balancing all their activities and interests with my passion to run an incredible district and also find some time for myself! Every day is a learning experience—it’s so awesome to work for a company that’s always evolving, always investing in people and always coming together to support our communities.