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Ashley Gibson Long

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Ashley Gibson has combined her passion for product and people along with her ability to persevere in an ever-changing retail landscape to succeed in her career. Currently a buyer for JCPenney department stores at their headquarters in Plano, Texas, she has worked for JCPenney since 2013 and has held various positions of increasing responsibilities within the merchandising division. One of the most rewarding parts of her job includes developing and mentoring the talent on her team of 15 and building relationships with people in the industry. 

Ashley is a 2007 graduate from the University of Missouri in textile and apparel management. After graduation, Ashley accepted a position in the Executive Development Program at Dillard’s, St. Louis Division. In her five-year tenure there, she learned the retail business from the ground up. She had the opportunity to spend time in stores as a sales manager and went on to join the corporate office as an assistant buyer in Women’s Coats & Suiting. Soon after, Ashley was promoted to buyer of Better & Bridge Dresses, where she remained for almost three years before pursuing the opportunity at JCPenney as a Senior Buyer. When Ashley isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, and she loves traveling the world.

HLM: Tell us a little about yourself and your day-to-day.
AG: I’m a passionate retail expert who has been in the business for over 14 years. I have a wonderful husband, Aron, and I am also a new mom to a beautiful baby girl, Vaida. For me, every day is different. Retail is a demanding profession and my schedule is very hectic. What I love about my job though is that no day is the ever same. Some weeks I’m in New York for market to picking out product. Some weeks I’m in the office working with my team to build the best assortment of product for my customer. Other weeks I’m at my desk running reports and analyzing business and go-forward strategies. Of course, the favorite part of my day is in the evening when I get to eat dinner and spend quality time with my family. 

HLM: Who or what inspired you and why?
AG: I love to shop. Fashion is something I’ve always been interested in, so I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. I always tell young people to pick a career that you personally care about and have a vested interest in. When you find a job you’re passionate about it will make going to work every day something you enjoy. Seeing positive results in the business is what inspires me to come back and do this job every day. I love seeing how the customer reacts to trends. I also like knowing that in dresses particularly, I’m helping women find an outfit that makes her feel good about herself for all the special times in her life.  

HLM: What are you most proud of in your career?
AG: I’ve won Chairman’s Award at my company for the past three years in a row. This is an honor given to the top buyers in the company. It makes me proud of all the work my team and I have done over the years to build a successful business. We worked hard to tune into what the customer wants and it paid off.

HLM: Do you have a favorite fashion vice?
AG: I love a good handbag!  

HLM: What are you most excited for going into the holiday? Any upcoming trends you would like to leak?
AG: I love the holiday season both for work and personally. It’s a crazy busy time of year with Black Friday sales and peak holiday shopping. I enjoy seeing what sells and if the customer buys what we thought she’d like. I also love spending time with family and friends. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the really important things in life.  

As for trends, I think there are a lot of exciting new things happening in fashion. I love the animal trend that’s happening right now. For holiday you’ll see a lot of satin, sequins and glitter in dresses. I mean, who doesn’t love getting dressed up to go to a party this time of year?!

HLM: How do you juggle your professional career with your personal life?
AG: It’s not always easy, but this is something I have worked really hard to do over the past couple years. As a new working mom, it is very important to me that I prioritize my family first. I think just being really organized and planning ahead helps. I make sure to take vacations and not bring work home in the evenings and weekends. I love the motto “Work hard, play hard.” I run 100 miles an hour when I’m at work, but when I’m home I really try to focus on myself, my friends and my family.  

HLM: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
AG: Don’t be afraid to work hard! You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay. Just be sure to admit them, learn from them, and move on. Focus on being the VERY best at the job you currently have. Know your self worth and don’t be afraid to speak up. Be flexible because change is inevitable. Ask as many questions as you can. You learn more from listening than talking. 

HLM: What’s next in store for you, moving forward?
AG: I don’t know yet. I truly love the job I have now and I love the people I work with. I’m enjoying time with my new baby girl and learning how to juggle both work and family. Eventually I could see myself moving into a divisional merchandise manager role but I’ve worked really hard to get to the position I’m in today and I’d like to take some time to enjoy it! 

HLM: What’s your favorite quote?
AG: Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve always tried to remember this when being a leader of a team!

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