The folks at Gap want shopping to be a happy experience – something fun, with something for everyone – but more than that, they want shopping at Gap to be something that simplifies your life. And there's no better time for that than during the craziness of the holidays.
We sat down with Gena Inkeles from Gap's global marketing team to talk about how Gap is making things easier for customers in and out of the store. And because it's the holidays, we wanted to get to know her a bit more about how she spends her time outside of the office. We talked gift-giving, chocolate meatballs, and of course, outfit planning – the good the bad, and the comfy.
Let's talk about your role. Tell us about what you do.
The biggest part of what I do is bring to life product stories and merchandising strategies in a customer-facing way across all of our digital channels. That's all of the content on the website, content that goes into email and in digital marketing, and content that can be seen in store environments as well.
It's about really understanding what the product assortment is inside and out, what those merchandising strategies are, and how we turn all of that into something that the customer really cares about. What need is it meeting in their lives? Is it a versatility offering? Is it great quality of fabric? Is it the easiest thing she's going to put on in her day? We keep all of those things in mind as we bring these stories to life.
The other part of my job is really making sure we're constantly testing and learning about the way our customers shop online, in order to make the best online shopping experience possible. We are constantly learning from our customers every day.
When and how do you get to interact with product?
I'm in there right at the very early stages — sometimes even before the clothing is designed! But once pieces are designed, I'm out in New York, which is where our designers are. After they design each season, we go and see the product at the same time as the merchandising teams and the buyers so that we're all figuring out what stories we want to tell together, and how that impacts buying and investment in certain product.
Where are you getting inspiration for your stories?
I get stories from all over! A lot of it is inspired by who our customers are, and what's going on in their lives. We want to be helpful — make their lives easier — whether it's a packing list, the must-haves for the holiday season, or how to style a trend. I'm constantly motivated by the ways we can help our customer in that sense. Yes, we're selling clothes, but I also like to think that we're helping to simplify our customers' lives.
What's the Gap story this holiday?
Our story is all about “Sharing Your Gift.” Its inspired by individuality, optimism and elevating the everyday. The holidays are not just about buying nice gifts, but about giving the best version of yourself to the world - whether that's smiling for the family photo or visiting a friend you haven't seen in forever – we want to evoke that sentiment while also reminding people that Gap is a fantastic place to find gifts for everyone on your list.
I want our customers to come to the website or walk into a store and not feel overwhelmed that it's the holidays, or that they need to buy a million gifts right now. I want them to feel that this is a fun and festive time. Hopefully we're there to help inspire them, get them into the holiday spirit…all while checking off their shopping lists, too. We want them to celebrate with us!
What is it that you personally love about the holidays?
I like the cozy time at home and being by the fire with family and my dog. I love cooking all day, drinking wine, and all the cozy stuff that comes with the holidays – pjs, blankets, baking, all of it! It's all about feeling good and feeling loved.
Food is one of my favorite things about the holidays. My family loves to cook and bake this time of year. We have this recipe for chocolate meatballs. It's my Grandma Betty's recipe and we've made them for as long as I can remember. They're these chocolate covered peanut butter balls that look like meatballs. They always make me smile. And they're so addictive!
What kind of dog you have?
Betty Page — she's a 9-year-old Boston terrier.
And when it comes to gifting, what's your approach?
Well first of all, I should say, that I LOVE buying gifts for people. It's really fun. And it makes me really happy. But it can be stressful buying for so many people! I also happen to have a huge family — a ton of nieces and nephews — so I feel like my focus has shifted in the last couple years to buying loads of baby and kid gifts. Usually I have an idea of something to get based on someone's personality — a thing about that person that is distinct and special. That usually provides a lot of gift inspiration once you spend a little time thinking about it. And then I go from there.
And of course I end up buying a ton from Gap, and Gap Inc. brands in general. Usually I start thinking about the things I want to get early and loading up my basket online ahead of time. A lot of times I'll wait and order everything online on Black Friday. Way less stress and lots of great deals. That definitely makes my life easier!
When it comes to the adults on my list, I try to put some thought into something really special. I really like putting together gift sets. One year we gave my husband's mom a date-night gift set – a cute dress, a little necklace, some other things we knew she'd love. I try to make it really fun and personal and something they'd really be excited about, that they can't necessarily go out and buy themselves.
What's the best gift you ever received — holiday or otherwise?
Last year for Christmas my husband and I said we were going to give each other some type of activity to do. It wasn't going to be a physical gift. He gave me a Herschel makeup bag, and inside of it was a DVD of European Vacation and a check for a trip to Europe! It was something I'd been talking about for a long time, but just hadn't pulled the trigger on. I was so surprised! I literally had no idea and I was totally blown away. He completely outdid me though. He got a cooking class!
Where did you go on your trip?
Italy. And Turkey. It was amazing. Istanbul is an incredible city.
Do you have good or terrible holiday outfits from your past?
Yes! I definitely had a crushed velvet, burgundy dress with these humungous bell sleeves. It would probably be very on-trend right now! It was so '90s. And I definitely had a velvet choker to go with it. That's one that stands out. I'm also picturing some pretty bad plaid jumpers with the knee-high socks.
Do you have a favorite piece from a Gap Inc. brand, or something you've had forever that you can't get rid of?
Yes! My pajamas from Gap. I need to buy more pairs of them because I legitimately want to wear them every single night.
Other pieces I've had for a long time from Gap?
I've had a white Oxford shirt for at least 10 years that I still wear, and it's super soft now because I've washed it so many times. That's probably one that I still get a ton of use out of because I dress it up, dress it down — wear it with all kinds of different things, and it's a classic. It goes with everything. I don't think I'll ever get rid of it.
Recipe for Grandma Betty's Chocolate Covered Meatballs
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup oatmeal
3 tablespoons melted butter
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Mix well and form into walnut sized balls.
Dip formed balls into using a toothpick to turn until covered.
Place on tray and refrigerate until firm.
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