When I applied for the educator role at lululemon in November 2020, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was walking into, considering I didn’t even own a single article of clothing from this luxurious athletic brand. As soon as I hit submit, I quickly became nervous and questioned why I even applied in the first place. Less than a week later, I was on a Zoom call with the manager for an interview. The following day, I was offered the position. Little did I know that working at a clothing store would change so many aspects of my life.
As with any retail job, I learned the basics of the POS system along with customer service skills specific to a clothing company. Known for revolutionizing athletic wear, I soon became familiar with the various fabrics and functions that lululemon leggings, jackets and sports bras came in. The title of educator started to make sense, as girls would come up and ask me questions such as “Which pants do you recommend for cycling?” or “Can I run in my Aligns?”
Those guest interactions sparked conversations about more than just the clothes they were trying on. I learned about their favorite type of workout or their favorite coffee stop after a yoga class. While I knew talking to others would be part of the job, I never expected conversation to flow so comfortably and turn into something I looked forward to, given that simply ordering a coffee used to be a huge challenge for me.
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, I began to go to various workout classes and met a whole other community of people who were also passionate about health and wellness. Going to a spin class at SoulCycle soon became a Sunday tradition as I recognized lululemon regulars on the bike right next to me and formed close friendships with the instructors, some of whom were also ambassadors of the company.
At work, I was learning something new each day, whether it was how to process an exchange or how to arrange merchandise in an eye-catching and aesthetic way. As much as the job revolved around being bubbly and outgoing, there were some days that I couldn’t help but bring in my “outside” problems to work. Rather than forcing a smile and acting like everything was fine, I was taught to acknowledge my feelings and take what I needed. To have a team that genuinely cared about how I was doing was shocking. I tend to avoid addressing my uncomfortable feelings and push them away instead. But working with empathetic co-workers who always asked how I was doing and if I needed anything challenged this unhealthy habit.
Going to work never once felt like a chore or an obligation. I looked forward to interacting with customers — casually dropping my interests into conversations at the checkout register, while helping guests find certain items, or as I placed a guest’s online order. I even squeezed in some networking time by making connections with surgeons and dietitians — who all kindly offered me their email to stay in touch and answer any of my questions. It had finally clicked that I could connect working with something I love without having to choose between the two.
What started off as just another seasonal job soon became the source of how I found my true self. I was now the one who initiated conversations and wore outfits that my past self would’ve been incredibly embarrassed to walk out of the house in. I smiled to myself as I met countless girls purchasing their very first pair of leggings, bubbling with excitement as they told me where they were going to wear it first. I remember vividly how much my posture lifted and my smile grew when I walked into the store for the first time in my new matching Align shorts and Flow Y bra.
I loved watching customers experience that same moment of radiance by wearing clothing that made them feel confident. From assisting badass women who competed in an IronMan buy their next race-day outfit, to confused boyfriends looking for the perfect anniversary gift for their girlfriends, I was helping someone feel accomplished. Each and every time I clocked in for my shift at lululemon, I appreciated how much such an experience shaped me in positive ways, both inside and outside of the store.