The year was 2005.
I had never worked retail before. All I knew was theatre life and waiting tables. I mean, I loved to shop but I didn’t know how that translated to working in a retail store. Especially, this kind of retail store. A retail store created by a man I idolized from the time I was a little girl. A man with unique vision and the extraordinary talent of making consumers go nuts for his products and by all accounts, a rock star to legions of computer nerds word wide. He created the first consumer-level personal computer and became a millionaire in his early twenties. His career had several ups and downs and he was ousted from the company he created. A decade later, he was welcomed back to that company as CEO and tasked with saving a sinking ship.
And he did. Only this time, he accomplished twice the success than he did his first time around.
Now, his critics were saying he had lost his mind. He was creating a retail division for his company. The retail model for computers and technology had run it’s course and had been proven to be problematic. Gateway, the company that had taken technology into the retail relm with it’s chain of computer stores, had folded and closed it’s doors only months before. How could he risk his company’s future and longevity on such a bone headed move? He was no stranger to criticism. He laughed in it’s face and plowed through the naysayers with total abandon. His first two creations as CEO were huge hits, the candy colored iMacs and the iPod. His vision of the potential for what a retail stores could mean to his legacy would not be deterred and he did it anyway.
His tenaciousness is what motivated me to consider working in his retail stores. My life had shifted and I was to be my father’s caregiver during his battle with Melanoma. I needed a more stable profession than the one an actor’s life could give me. I had no idea what to expect or if I was even qualified to stand in the store, let alone work in it. I did have a lot of experience with the products, though. Having been such a fan of the man who created them, I was extremely loyal to the brand. Even when everyone was pushing me to jump on the Window’s bandwagon, I refused. In the end, that gave me an edge. I was told on my third or fourth interview, that it was harder to get hired by this company than it was to get into Harvard. (Yeah, right.) By the fifth interview, I started to believe them. All in all, I had six different interviews with six different managers. The last was with the general manager of the store and I was happily surprised to discover she was female and blonde. Just like me! She told me when she opened the store, she was the only woman on her staff. I was taken aback by that. I mean, it was 2005! Where were all the women? She told me the hiring standards of the company were predominately knowledge based and very few women came in with the right mix of knowledge and people skills. Again, I was taken aback. Retail, in general, was a market typically dominated by women but, this store was desperate to hire more females and couldn’t find them. It was mind blowing.
After that last interview, I received a call for the store manager asking me if I’d like to join her team. I accepted the position and asked her if I should try applying to Harvard now? She laughed and said I would be the fifth woman to join her team of 35 people and slowly, we gals would take the power back. She also told me me she was thrilled that they had found such an anomaly in me and that it would make the store that much better.
It would be years later, before I understood what she was really saying.
And that, my friends, is how I became the blonde bimbo standing in the middle of my city’s only Apple Store with people constantly asking me, “What are you doing here?”