A Love Letter to J.Crew on my Last Day

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Dear J.Crew,

Today’s our last day of the foreseeable future together. Today, at 6PM, I’ll walk into the store, wearing my brand-new army green Field Jacket, because no self-control, and I’ll work my last shift. It’s a sad thing for us, really, we’ve been an accidental romance – the kind that builds slowly over time and years later you realize you’ve changed because of it. When I filled out an application in March of 2010, I had no idea that I’d stick around so long. I’m grateful that you’ve taught me as much of you have and for the consistency you’ve brought to life during college and life post-college. For better or worse, I haven’t had to worry about what to wear or keeping up on latest trends, you’ve been good to me like that.

So thanks, J.Crew.

Thank you for keeping me well dressed, even at the expense of my savings account. I’ve loved building a wardrobe with a discount and having fun developing my own style. My gold pave link bracelet, yellow Excursion vest, California Poppy dress, and toothpick jeans have been my favorite items. And let’s not forget my Field Jackets, all three of them, now. You’ve been good to my closet, J.Crew.

Thank you for challenging my view of beauty and style. They are not quick and easy. They take time to develop and grow into. Beauty and style cannot be bought. Clothes and jewelry can, but it’s how you wear them and the way you own who you are that matters most. Clothing cannot cover insecurities, in fact, it can expose them. Women who are confident in who they are — they’re the most beautiful and they wear the clothes the best.

Thank you for my thicker skin. I firmly believe that every person should have to work in retail or food service at some point in their lives. I’ve done both and learned so much. Because of working in retail (and being filled with the Holy Spirit), I can respond back to cruel people with kindness, knowing that they’re not really mad at me, they’re mad at something else and taking it out on me. Who really gets that worked up over a sweater? No one, you’ve just had a bad day. I now see difficult customers as a challenge — can I turn the day around for you? Our culture has gotten so used to quick and fast that people don’t like standing in line, but I’ve realized it’s okay to make someone wait. Obviously within reason, but there’s no need for the cashier to apologize because the person in front of you didn’t have their credit card ready. Patience is still a virtue.

Thank you for the countless friendships I’ve developed while folding clothes and working at the cash wrap. Co-workers, managers and shoppers alike have made the past five years so much fun. My summers in Cincinnati and last two years in Indianapolis wouldn’t have been the same without the relationships formed within the four walls of the two stores I’ve worked at. As my life has changed all around me, the relationships I’ve formed here have grounded and challenged me.

Thank you for reminding me that I’m good at something. The summer of 2013 was a hard summer for my self-esteem. I had trouble finding a long-term full-time job, but you gave me a reason to show up. I had the opportunity to manage others and serve customers. Working as a temporary keyholder that summer at J.Crew Factory restored my faith in myself, and I wouldn’t have been able to walk into adulthood the same way without that experience. I may not be able to solve world hunger or find a family for every special needs child that I’ve come across, but I can help a new mom feel good about herself because she bought some items of clothing that now fit. I can assist a college freshman in picking out an outfit for sorority recruitment. I can share my favorite transition items for a fourteen year old who is finally in the women’s section of the store. As superficial as shopping appears, working in retail has allowed me to step into so many people’s lives, and hopefully help them feel a little bit better about themselves.

Thanks for the memories, the friendships, the clothes and the grace. I can’t say enough good stuff, J.Crew. You’ve been the best to me!

Love,

Caitlin

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