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Ashlie Garcia ’15
BA Communications
Hometown/current residence: Bronx, New York
Occupation: Senior Regional Marketing Specialist, Nordstrom department store

Bronx native Ashlie Garcia ‘15 has always been sure about two things: she wanted to work in marketing, and she loved fashion. She came to Saint Rose, nestled in an upstate city exponentially smaller than hers, to experience life in a tight-knit community. It was her first time away from home. Once she got to Albany, she immersed herself in her communications studies.

“I began to see everything in a different light; why certain colors were chosen for advertisements, partnerships/sponsorships and why they worked between the brand and talent, why a logo or typeface was chosen and how it was all connected,” Garcia recalls. “It was incredibly interesting to me.”

Along the way, she was active in campus clubs, worked a retail job, completed an internship, worked in the College’s marketing office, and spent a semester studying communications at Regent’s University in London. She shared her experiences – the joyful and challenging – in posts she wrote for the College blog.

A few months after graduating, Garcia joined the Nordstrom department store’s marketing team as an intern. Seven years later, she is a senior regional marketing specialist at the national chain, supporting beauty, fragrance, lingerie, swim, and active lines in the Southwest region and New York City’s flagship store.

Here, she discusses her experience:

Tell us about your journey working and advancing at Nordstrom.
I had just gotten back from studying in London, had my degree, and was interviewing incessantly with advertising and marketing agencies around New York City. It was not exactly the greatest experience, as I was being turned down due to a lack of “real work experience.” I really needed to bring in money and do something to occupy my time, so I accepted a retail management internship at Nordstrom in White Plains. I had a lot of retail experience after being sales lead at The Children’s Place throughout college, so it was a great fit.

After the internship, I was promoted to assistant manager in styling and assistant manager in men’s sportswear, leading a team of 20. Then I went on to be the store administrator for Nordstrom’s first flagship store in New York City.

I was good at sales, but I always knew that it wasn’t the career path I wanted to take. I met my current manager at the beginning of my Nordstrom career and immediately knew I wanted to be on her team. We sat down and had a chat over coffee about what experience was needed on my end in order to be considered for the role in the future.

Fast forward four and a half years, and a position had finally opened! (They don’t come along that often—my team members have been in these roles for eight-plus years.) I interviewed and got the job. Now I’ve been working in marketing for one and a half years – the role I always wanted!

What did your early career experiences at Nordstrom teach you?
So many college students think [their] journey is linear. I am here to tell them all that it definitely is not. I went from being a communications major specializing in advertising and public relations to working in retail for over seven years.

I was amazing at it, and it landed me many roles in a company I absolutely love. But I never forgot what I really wanted to do and where I wanted my career to go. It is never too late! There are many that are lucky enough to land their dream roles straight from college, but it all looks different for everyone.

What do you do as the senior regional marketing specialist?
I oversee Nordstrom’s Southwest market and specific divisions within the New York City flagship store. Our directive is to strategize ways to acquire new customers and retain existing ones, mainly through creating great experiences to keep them coming back. We collaborate with our other groups to direct marketing efforts for the company.

We also work closely with vendor partners to bring their event ideas to life. Our events consist of beauty and fragrance master classes, celebrity appearances, press previews, and more. One fun event I recently got to work on was a Mother’s Day event with Nike. Mothers got to create custom Nike “swoosh” planters and plant succulent plants with their children. I worked with a local florist who made this great one-of-a-kind Nike experience come to life.

You’ve also modeled for Nordstrom. What was that like?
This was definitely something I did not see coming. In August 2021, I was approached by a co-worker in marketing who was scouting employees to be a part of our Holiday 2021 campaign. We shot the campaign just like any professional model would, and it was such a cool experience!

It was surreal seeing all of our campaign images online, and we were featured in the Columbus Circle train station, which is where our New York headquarters and flagship store are located.

Nordstrom Holiday 2021 campaign Advertisement - featuring Ashlie Garcia '15

Fast forward to 2022, and once again, my great friend Elena Chavez tapped a bunch of us on the shoulder and asked us to apply to be featured in our Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month shoot. I submitted my application and got accepted. It was amazing being able to talk about my Latin roots and how they have shaped my life and who I am. Most recently, we have all been featured in our newest hiring campaign, which is also awesome!

Discuss the importance of your cultural identity, personally and in your work.
I am extremely proud to be Dominican and Puerto Rican. It is what drives me to be the best at what I do, to show those who doubt us that we will always persevere and continue to do great things on this Earth and to show the younger generation that they have a place in the workforce.

More and more of us are taking over in predominantly White spaces, diversifying the workforce. In 2023, we still struggle with minority representation in the workplace, especially in executive and board roles.

Our Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month shoot and series were so important to me. I am proud to work for a company that celebrates people from all walks of life. These are honestly my favorite campaigns! They are not so much about selling products to our customers as having them relate to the thousands of us who are behind the scenes. Whether we’re Black, AAPI, Latino/a, LGBTQIA+, and more, Nordstrom makes sure we are all celebrated and represented. We make the connection with our customers where it matters the most—in our core. Our customers are just as diverse!

How did Saint Rose help you get where you are?
I thank two of my professors who really shaped my way of thinking, always believed in me, and inspired me throughout my college career and beyond; Cailin Brown and Karen McGrath. Through all of my struggles as a student, my curiosities, highs, and lows, those two were always there to give me great advice. I have never met educators who are as passionate as they are, not only about their students and what they do, but about the subjects they teach. Both are incredible individuals who have accomplished great things in their lives. And it’s always so heartwarming when they continue to cheer me on almost eight years later whenever they see I’ve accomplished something in my career. So, thank you to both of them for really caring about their students. We never forget!