Opportunity

From Part-Time to a World of Possibilities

When I was 18, I took a temporary job at Walmart for extra cash. Eleven years later, I’ve gained so much more: a challenging, satisfying career.

I had no idea that my time making cakes in a supercenter bakery would set me up for the chance to be store manager. But my seemingly small choice indeed led to something bigger, and I love to tell people about the opportunity and personal growth I’ve experienced.

After six months in the bakery I was given the option to move to the wireless department, where I showed enough initiative to be named department manager. My co-manager at the time encouraged me to apply for the company’s manager in training program. I was accepted, and I believe the trajectory of my life changed from there.

I went from being a quiet, insecure college student who was uncertain about what she wanted to a confident, well-spoken woman who now leaves a lasting impression on her co-workers and family. Right after the manager in training program, I visited my aunt and uncle, who told me I wowed them by being completely different – way more talkative and extroverted than ever.

Today, I use my newfound outgoing spirit to not only run my Neighborhood Market, but also to tell my associates about the path of potential I found. I love encouraging others and watching them blossom. For example, I can recall one of my associates who started out seeming unsure of himself, but after a few years and making connections with others in the store, he’s now a department manager. I can see his future: buying a home, sending his kids to college. Watching all this happen is like magic to me.

I want all my associates to understand the opportunities they have with this company. I didn’t know it on the first day, but as a store manager, it’s my job to ensure that as many associates as possible can see it – and seize it – from the start.

3 Comments

U.S. Manufacturing

With This Ring, We Grew Our Business

Just one year ago, having all hands on deck for us meant 12 employees. But between then and now, something exciting gave our jewelry manufacturing work a boost.

Today, we often find ourselves bringing on 10 to 15 additional temporary employees just to keep pace with demand. We’re working through details to build a new, larger facility near Salt Lake City, because we're bursting at the seams working to fill orders. By the end of this year alone, we’ll be hiring up to 35 new full-time employees.

A close up image of a hand wearing the Luxurien camo ring

Luxurien has long been recognized as one of the premier suppliers of contemporary metal wedding bands in the U.S. But a few years back, we recognized a growing demand for something unique: high-quality jewelry with camouflage inlays, so we committed to filling that gap. We signed license agreements with Mossy Oak & Realtree, two of the most popular camouflage brands in the world, and began to make and distribute camouflage rings.

While that set the stage for bigger and better things, the real game-changing moment was set in motion when Walmart began promoting its 2014 Open Call for products that support American jobs. Luxurien was one of very few jewelry manufacturers based right here in the U.S. – and we knew we had something to offer. So we submitted our application to see if they’d meet with us, and it's been nothing short of a snowball effect ever since.

We found ourselves face-to-face with Walmart buyers, pitching our contemporary metal bands, camouflage rings and exotic wood jewelry. Within weeks, we were on our way to San Bruno, Calif., where Walmart.com committed to selling about 150 of our products online. The response from customers has been so positive that our online deal with Walmart recently expanded to include the sale of our rings in more than 600 of its U.S. stores.

A woman smiles big behind a table filled with shipping papers for Luxurien wedding bands

It’s a pretty big undertaking – particularly for a small business like ours. But the way Walmart committed to walking side-by-side with us from day one has been just as valuable as the orders it has placed. The buyers have been there to make suggestions and inject ideas. We’ve added efficiencies that simply weren’t there before, our margins have gone up considerably, and we’ve been able to raise wages for our employees. All this has, without a doubt, contributed to making us a stronger company for the long term.

This was undoubtedly what Walmart had in mind when, in January 2013, it pledged to purchase an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs over 10 years. And Luxurien is proud to be part of this growing success story. 

Be the first to comment on this article

Opportunity

7 Fathers, 7 Sons, 1 Distribution Center

Lots of people use the term “work family” casually, but in Marcy, N.Y., it’s quite the literal thing. At one Walmart distribution center, seven fathers and seven sons work alongside each other, all as Walmart truck drivers.

Having your parent as a coworker could be a nuisance for some, but for many of these sons, it’s a privilege. Watch them describe why they’ve looked up to their fathers for years, and why they ultimately chose to pursue the same road with Walmart logistics. 

Be the first to comment on this article

Community

Helping Women Find Their Strong Suits Through Dress for Success

On New Year’s Eve 2014, Samantha pulled into a hotel in Northwest Arkansas, leaving an abusive relationship and destructive lifestyle behind in Texas.

Alone in a new state, with just her daughter, Samantha had no real plan in place, but she did have a goal: building a better life for herself. Two weeks after arriving and still seeking a job, Samantha heard about Dress for Success, a global nonprofit organization that provides professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help disadvantaged women thrive in work and in life.

In 2012, knowing that the local poverty rate was nearly 19% and the unemployment rate was 5.7%, several Walmart home office associates strongly believed that Northwest Arkansas was an important location for the organization's first affiliate in the state. Now nearly three years old, the mission for Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas remains the same: to help women like Samantha find financial independence as they work their way out of negative situations.

Dress For Success Volunteer Helping Client

Marie Paterson, a Walmart human resources associate who is a key leader with Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas, told me, “Volunteering with a local affiliate is especially meaningful because we’re making a difference right here. Our clients are becoming confident and equipped to raise not only their standard of living but also their families’, and they are becoming role models for their children, their friends and communities.”

When Samantha left Texas, friends and family weren’t the only things she left behind. She left behind the clothes and possessions that would present her as professional and hirable in interviews that another local agency had helped her find. Beyond that, she had no idea what to expect from Dress for Success.

Woman Standing at Desk Looking Through Papers

“The actual experience at Dress for Success was so much more powerful than I could have expected,” Samantha said. “Not only did they provide me with one-on-one attention for my suiting, but they did a mock interview and gave me feedback on areas to improve.” Later, Samantha said, she felt prepared and confident enough to ace her interview for her dream job: becoming a key member of the team at a local car dealership.

Now in a much healthier situation, Samantha is looking to the future and wants to be a “giant success” in the auto industry. She is actively looking for ways to reach out to women in situations similar to the one she left in Texas to show them that anything is possible. 

Be the first to comment on this article

Community

Walmart #NWAChampionship Player Gaby Lopez: ‘The Impossible Can Be Possible’

This weekend, University of Arkansas golfer Gaby Lopez will enjoy her third opportunity to join LPGA players on the greens at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Here, she shares her thoughts on the tournament – as well as pursuing her dreams on and off the course.

WMT: You took up golf at age 4 while growing up in Mexico. What drew you to the sport? 

Lopez: My dad introduced me to golf. It all started as a fun game, nothing serious. A couple of years later, Lorena Ochoa became the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world. That was when I knew that the impossible can be possible, and golf became my passion. 

WMT: Tell us about your journey to today, where you’re a standout on the University of Arkansas golf team.

Lopez: Coming to the University of Arkansas has been the best decision I've made. I've grown as a golfer but more important as a person. I'm 100% certain that I have the right people around me, like Coach Shauna (Estes-Taylor) and Coach Mike (Adams), by my side that will always push me to be my best. 

Gaby Lopez smiles on a golf course during the LPGA Tour in Rogers, Arkansas

WMT: During this week’s event, you’re playing in front of hometown fans. What is that like? How does it compare to other tournaments?

Lopez: This tournament makes me feel like I’m at home. The Northwest Arkansas and Razorback communities have opened their doors to me and my family in a very special way. It is a huge honor to be able to represent my school and my country at the same time. Calling the Hogs with all the fans on No. 17 is one of my favorite golf moments - the energy is amazing. I feel blessed to have this opportunity for the third time in my collegiate career. 

WMT: Empowering women to recognize their full potential is a longtime priority for Walmart. You’re certainly a role model for other youth – do you have any advice for young girls on not just pursuing professional sports, but succeeding in whatever they do?

Lopez: My advice would be to always do and pursue what interests you, whether that is golf, sports or anything else. Discipline and passion are two characteristics I think a person needs to be successful, and I think believing in yourself is the most powerful tool of all. 

WMT: What are your own dreams, and what do you envision as your next step?

Lopez: I think everyone who plays the game dreams of being the best player ever and I certainly want to be the best player I can be. But I think more importantly I want to be remembered for what I did off the golf course. I want to finish out my senior season with the Razorbacks and enjoy every minute of the team atmosphere – that is a unique experience in golf. After graduation, I’ll start work on earning my Tour card and see where that journey takes me.    

Be the first to comment on this article