Whether your flavor is distressed, skinny or relaxed — in jeans or personality — Gap's Denim Diva is up for the challenge: delivering the best fitting, best looking denim for whoever walks through her door.
People from all over the world, from Holland to France to Amsterdam, filter into the San Francisco Gap store at the foot of Powell Street, located next to an iconic cable car stop in an intensely bustling part of the city.
Many of those world-wise shoppers come calling for Charlotte Crier — the sales associate affectionately known as the Denim Diva. Or, as Charlotte says she's sometimes remembered, "the lady with the red hair who knows all about the jeans."
An international corner of an international city is catnip for Charlotte, a born-and-bred San Franciscan whose telltale qualifier ("hecka cute") highlights her Bay Area pride as much as the verve she brings to her work. Her candidness and enthusiasm, honed after many years in retail, will make even a self-conscious customer wonder why, say, she was too shy to pull white denim over her curves.
She prides herself on finding the perfect fit for anyone — guiding toward what she knows will look great instead of immediately pointing customers to what they ask for. To do that, Charlotte takes information and indexes it against a library she's constantly adding to with every customer and body type. What were you wearing when you came in? Are you long and lean, big and tall, small and curvy or somewhere in between? What are you gravitating toward vs. what could or should you take a chance on?
Charlotte moves deftly, eyeballing hips, measuring roughly with her hands and nailing sizes in seconds. In the first few minutes of chatting with her, she eyeballed the black Resolution denim I was wearing and got my size immediately. She turned to my teammate and said she was wearing the wrong size (one too big, turns out); soon thereafter, she was examining herself in the mirror, rocking a pair of flare denim accentuating her long, lean runners' legs.
"I love the people, I love the brand, I love the company, and I love the customers," Charlotte said. "They come looking for me, and that's just an amazing feeling."
Who are those customers? There's Frank from China ("He comes in every summer"), who buys denim for himself and his wife. There's designer Carolina Herrera and her mother, who popped in once. And there are loads of tourists lobbing European sizes at her — she does the math more quickly in her head than with a calculator.
Charlotte has been a store associate at this Gap store, and only this Gap store, for seven years. She walked in and filled out an application as a seasonal hire, backed by a strong retail résumé after years in positions at Macy's, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.
When she got the job, her supervisor showed her the do's and don'ts of denim, and Charlotte quickly became obsessed with her new career — she conducted hours of research online and tried on every single style and wash Gap had in store. She loved the brand and her team so much, her daughter applied for a job in the GapBody division; Charlotte says she still fits a bra like a pro.
"My coworkers, they inspire me," Charlotte said. "They look up to me, and I look up to them, as well. They treat me like family."