MINI PENNY: Urban Outfitters Home Office

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Urban Outfitters Home Office

I have been counting down to this trip for the past couple of months and I can easily say that it went leaps and bounds beyond my imagination. I got back into Chicago this morning and I'm still in awe at how quickly the past couple of days zipped by. It was borderline sensory-overload in Philadelphia — everything was new and strange and unfamiliar.

The flight was quick and early with perfect blue skies! I turn into such a kid when I get on an airplane, I swear. No matter how many times I'm on a plane, I'm always fascinated by it!

When we landed on Tuesday morning, we immediately went from the airport to Home Office. After taking a short stroll around the Navy Yard, we hit up Quarters O for a meeting with some wonderful and familiar faces. Quarters O was small home (admiral's cabin I believe? I could be remembering incorrectly) that Urban rehabbed and filled with Anthropologie digs. It was phenomenal and a great introduction to the beauty we'd be seeing in every detail over the next couple of days.

Bart in the Quarters O Living Room
Lovely sofa on the enclosed porch
Drew and Jocelyn
Veggie burger, pita, guac, and black bean/edemame dip!
We had a wonderful working lunch to finish out our time at Quarters O with both new and familiar faces.

Free People Building
Building 543
Urban Building
Building 543 - Acid Bath Room
Building 543
Caitlin - Building 543
Bart, Caitlin and Rudy - Building 543
We were given a tour of the campus and had the opportunity to go into each building — that includes the Free People, Anthro, BHLDN, and Terrain spots. Free People was surprisingly one of my favorites! They had killer fabrics everywhere. I loved that every building had its own feel and special touches. A lot of the original architectural elements were kept and anyone who is familiar my taste knows that I'm a big fan of industrial spaces.

I did nerd out a bit when we were included in the the Urban Second Quarter Earnings Review meeting. I love numbers (something I really dove into at Apple and even with my own analytics), so seeing numbers on this scale was fascinating. I was so extremely flattered to not only meet but to also get a congratulations by the CEO in front of the entire company. It was ultra-humbling and in my crazy range of emotions, even touching. I think in that moment I knew that I could feel like home here. It's almost uncalled for in my experience to have someone at a "corporate" level (I hate to call home office that, because it doesn't feel like your standard "corporate" atmosphere) listen to the suggestions of retail employees. We were even thanked on multiple occasions for the work we do in-store. I felt a lot of pride for my little Chicago Surplus location and for the path that brought us all here in the first place.

Art Show in Building 543
Rudy and Caitlin at the Koi Pond - Building 543
Oh, and a fun fact? Everyone at home office brings their adorable dogs to work every day. There were darling pups all around and I could barely contain myself!

After the workday was through, we hit up Morgan's Pier for food. There weren't many veg options, so I opted for a Shandy (Yuengling + lemonade) and the vegan chorizo. It was pretty good! Afterwards, I met up with my pal Lou and we got some gelato and walked around center city. He showed me the LOVE statue, which was surprisingly tiny!

The next morning started early with the subway ride — which I was astonished to discover still uses tokens — and a small breakfast at the URBN MRKT in Building 543. I can say with much certainty that they probably made the best iced soy chai + two shots of espresso drink that I've ever had. I know I'll be longing for one tomorrow morning and will have to settle for a New Wave hail mary instead. UGH!

Matthew looking foxy in the Urban Building between meetings!
Our day was filled with exciting meetings — everything from the team who plans store-level training to the graphic design team (TO DIE FOR! I HAD TO CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT!), the two in-house video guys (I wish I remembered their names. I was so impressed by their work and they were so humble/quiet and willing to share. Seriously good vision here!), and possibly my biggest curiosity, the photo team. I had always heard rumors that only interns shot their photos, but I made a request to see the photo studio and BAM! we were there!

The rolling racks of clothes and shelves of shoes used for styling? Yes, incredible. The photo studio set up was adapted well to the space and it was really cool to see it behind the scenes. I know now that I'm not going to be looking at product on the website the same again!

After lunch I got to meet with the blogging team and part of the social media team. While I do enjoy what Urban is doing on an artistic front, I think there's a lot to grasp with social media and how it can influence customers in regards to a company that has the magnitude of UO. It was interesting to hear the ladies' direction and growth as a social media team within the company and perhaps even be able to relate it back to myself and my own personal projects.

On top of all of the excitement, I met this happy rock. There were little gems like this all over the place! The graphic design team was gracious enough to share some of their future plans, new catalogs, upcoming illustrations and tag/bag designs. Everyone was incredible!

Around 3pm we skipped over the the Mütter Museum. I had originally thought that we weren't going to be able to check it out and was so happy when it was added to the itinerary. I had heard so many cool things about it. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, especially with my weak emotions in regards to human sufferings. I found myself have to walk away from some displays — while fascinated medically, the thought of someone suffering with those sort of deformities broke my heart. I do however recommend the museum from a learning experience. The wall of skulls was particularly interesting.

My evening on the other hand was a little less exciting (probably for the best). Everyone was headed to a sausage restaurant that literally had nothing vegetarian on the menu. I bumped over a couple blocks and grabbed a bite with someone from Instagram at a cute little vegan restaurant. My plans for the evening fell through, so I ended up relaxing at the hotel with a bubble bath and prepping for my big morning.

Back to the Naval Yard
Visitor's Center
My interview room!
The next morning, the rest of my team split off to do some training in the Urban Outfitters store downtown. Meanwhile I hopped in a cab and went back to the Navy Yard for my interviews. Yeah. I interviewed at Home Office today. Looking back on it now, it seems like it went by so quickly. I mean that in a good way. I met up with multiple people and left with good feelings. So who knows what's going to happen. It could mean a major change for me or it could mean that I networked with some great people that I may see later down the road. No matter which way it ends up, I'm so thankful for the past three days. I'm excited and finally, after so much struggling post-Apple employment, I feel confident in what I'm doing and the path I'm choosing. 

I mean, I feel like that's a good place to be in at 25, right?

Matthew in Rittenhouse Square
Vegan Cheesesteak! Finally!
Afterwards I met back up with my team, we grabbed a vegan lunch (oh my gosh, YAY!) and then headed off to the airport.

Security checkpoints, terminal, and a non-window seat later (this photo is a little deceiving because I totally invaded Matt's space to get a photo of these fluffy clouds), I'm back home in Chicago.

What's next? I have no idea, but I'm starting to get a clearer view. Oh and for the record, I am totally into it.

I owe a huge thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point — my fellow team leads, receivers, associates, everyone in the company who voted for our video, Drew for making the contest, Ted and Dick for creating such a creative and open environment, my store manager Beth and district manager Rob for giving us the time to make this happen, and every person in between who took time out of their days to show my kid-in-a-candy-store eyes what happens behind the curtain.

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