Shop Talk

Happy Birthday, Gap

This week Gap Inc. is celebrating its 45th birthday. I can’t help but get a little caught up in the excitement because this is a company that has done so much for me over the years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities provided to me by this organization and the incredible people that work there.

When I first moved to San Francisco in 2001, I worked at the Flaship Gap store at Powell and Market. All through college I worked on the salesfloor, selling jeans and sweaters to tourists from around the world in one of the company’s busiest stores. It was energizing, engaging, and at times very challenging. During summers I was even able to transfer to the store in my hometown of Kearney, Nebraska.

The summer after my third year at USF, I landed an internship at headquarters in the Gap Foundation offices. I organized the company AIDS Walk team that included employees from headquarters and stores around the Bay Area. No small task considering Gap was and is still one of the marquee sponsors of the event.

Throughout my internship, I made connections with people from around the company. I even got to meet founders Don and Doris Fisher, whose offices were on the same floor as my humble cubicle. When it came time to begin my post-college job search, I didn’t have to look very far. I started work in the Global Communications department as a Junior Graphic Designer two weeks after graduation despite only minoring in Graphic Design and having a very modest portfolio. The company took a chance on me, and my first bosses somehow saw potential in me that I didn’t yet recognize myeself. To say I learned a lot in that job doesn’t even scratch the surface.

The company took a chance on me, and my first bosses somehow saw potential in me that I didn’t yet recognize myeself.

I parted ways with Gap after a few years, but maintained my connections at the company. My former boss convinced me to begin taking on side projects and just like that, my freelance career was born. Long story short, Gap Inc. bankrolled my first few years as an independent designer and continues to be a regular client today.

Gap has been a major factor in my success, clearly. But what really gets me excited is not my own personal story. It’s the fact that they are leading the charge in so many important ways on social issues here in the US and around the world. A publicly traded company, they have successfully proved the business case for giving back to communities where they have stores and where their clothes are made. It’s truly inspiring to be a part, in some small way, of a company that’s not afraid to take risks in these areas. And that’s not even to mention the huge contribution they have made to the arts—for starters, see: SFMOMA’s new expansion.

A publicly traded company, they have successfully proved the business case for giving back to communities where they have stores and where their clothes are made.

I swear, they’re not paying me to write this and I’m not crafting a press release here. So if you’re really curious about what they’re doing, check out their Social Responsibility website (which I happened to help design). I just had to share a little bit of love for this company that’s been a such huge part of my personal success story and so many others’ as well.

So yea. I think you’re doing alright, Gap. Happy birthday.

Posted August 22, 2014 by Chris Fettin