Back in March, Old Navy launched the "Faces of Old Navy" – a series on the brand's social channels that highlights amazing talent and personalities.
Q: We hear you have a pretty unusual resume!
A: I was a professional runner for four years, racing in international-level competitions. I started running when I was eight and went to University of Virginia on a track and field scholarship. While training, I worked at a health shop, assisted wedding photographers and some accessory designers, too. Last year, my times stopped improving so I shifted away from competitions. I wanted something creative and winded up having a great chat with Old Navy's HR team.
Q: Naturally, you're a member of Old Navy's own running club.
A: Yes! A group of us run a four-mile loop every Tuesday and Friday during lunch. It's nice to get outside for a mental and physical breather. Next year, we're planning on running the Penn Relays — the largest track meet in the country.
Q: How'd you get into merchandising?
A: Growing up in this little suburb of SoCal called Ontario, I always knew whatever I would do would involve styling or design. After high school, I moved to LA and pursued that dream, dipping my fingers into whatever I could. For example, while I was there I found this old thrift shop that had horrendous window displays — so I went in and offered to merchandise their windows for free! I helped them, but also built up my portfolio and skill set.
Q: What are you loving in footwear right now?
A: This summer, it's all about the lace-up (our best seller) and the gilly tie — which is anything that ties around the ankle — and embellishments like fringe and tassels. If you're going to rock a statement shoe, keep the rest simple with a linen-blend tee and cropped kick-flare jeans — the hemline is perfect for showing off the ankle and putting focus back on the shoe. If I want to really make a statement, I'll throw on a jacket with a bold print or graphic embroidery.
Q: What's the most exciting thing about being a merchant?
A: Definitely meeting with customers and hearing what our clothes mean to them. At a birthday party three weeks ago, I saw an entire family, dressed in head-to-toe Old Navy, get out of a Tesla. We started chatting, and when I told them I worked for ON, they said, “Oh my God, we LOVE Old Navy! We couldn't shop anywhere else. It's where we find the most things we love for our entire family.”
Q: What's something no one knows about you?
A: I was once an avid rock climber, and travelled quite a bit for it — from Lake Tahoe to Southeast Asia. One of the most challenging climbs I ever did was Lover's Leap (in Lake Tahoe). You don't have a pre-set rope so you just have to climb and then set up your rope and gear as you go. I don't do that anymore, though!
Q: We hear you're a bit of a Lego-maniac…
A: I've loved Legos since I was a kid, but my mom wouldn't buy them for me because she said they were meant for boys. Once I started working, I bought them for myself. I've made a pit-stop truck, the Eiffel Tower and the Batman car!
Q: You have amazing personal style. What's your secret sauce?
A: I don't shop in the women's section for anything except formal blouses and pants. I prefer oversized, boxy styles. I buy men's T-shirts and sometimes even outerwear, so long as it's not too big in the shoulder. I also tuck my tees out of habit. When I was younger, my mom always tucked my shirts in the front, saying, “A woman's stomach should always be warm.” [laughs]I think it's an Asian mom thing.
Q: You and your wife both work. Is it tricky to balance parenting responsibilities?
A: We try to do half-and-half of everything. But it's a lot of work. I drop Olivia off at daycare and my wife Annie, a special education teacher, picks her up — that sort of thing. I tend to do the cooking and she deals with all the clothing stuff. We split the housecleaning. But now we're adjusting to a new dynamic because we have a three-month-old baby, Owen.