Nov 16, 2016

Everyone has a moment when they find their place in the Mexicali Tribe and realize what Mexicali Blues means to them. Today, Suse Wicks, manager of our flagship store in Newcastle, shares hers.

When Suse Wicks learned of a managerial opening at Mexicali Blues last year she felt immediately that it was the right place for her. But was it the right position? “I was so comfortable with the company’s philosophy, practice and principles,” she says. “So when I sat down to interview with Pete and Kim, my questions were all about the job itself. Would it allow me to bring my ideas and my creativity to the work? Would I work with people I could energize and enable? And they told me that every job at Mexicali Blues fits that description, not just management jobs. As soon I started working here I knew that it was true.”

“I’ve been working here for less than two years,” Suse says, “but in my heart I’ve been here forever.”

Our largest retail location, the Newcastle store overflows with colors and patterns, sparkle and light, music and incense. Because it sits on U.S. Route One, it also overflows with traffic. Creating a welcoming environment for customers and coworkers alike in the midst of chaos is something Suse does particularly well. “People walk in here and they say ‘Oh, this is wonderful! This is … an overload of wonderful,’” Suse laughs. “It isn’t sensory overload, although it sometimes feels that way. It’s suddenly being aware of your senses! We thank everyone who walks in right as they walk in, so that they feel an immediate connection and have a place to start.”

Reaching out to everyone coming in—connecting the store to the community—is Suse’s real passion. “Everyone working here is sharing their outreach ideas,” she says excitedly.  “We’re working with local artists and artisans, with area musicians, we’re donating to good causes. And we’re opening the store up in new ways to open minds.”

Suse is particularly aware of how Mexicali Blues can foster body positivity in girls and women. “We’ve been voted ‘Best Women’s Clothing Store’ by Down East magazine readers for years,” she says. “The store motto is ‘Clothing that fits your mind.’ Think about that. We sell beautiful, well made clothes that flatter all body types and what does that do? It elevates self esteem and spirits. You don’t just look good. You feel good. What makes Mexicali Blues unique is that our goods always have that spiritual component. We know that outward expression creates inward expression. We never forget that we sell stepping stones, ways of sharing into a person’s inner life.”

That peek into a person’s inner life is what prompted Suse’s Mexicali Moment. “It’s not one particular moment,” Suse explains. “It’s the way Mexicali Blues has become part of some of the most meaningful moments in our customers’ lives. Pete and Kim work with the hands of the people. They skip with joy at what they do. This place creates comfort and light, a beacon for our customers. We welcome customers into our space, and they welcome us in to theirs.”

Since Suse started her job, she’s had customers get married in her store. She has helped expectant mothers put together maternity outfits and then return with beautiful babies. She has found incense for smudging ceremonies, new beginnings and cleansings. She has wrapped up singing bowls and crystals for healing in times of ill health and stress. And she has also seen how Mexicali Blues has helped customers cope with loss.

“A woman came in a year ago and began gathering up every tie dye sweatshirt and t-shirt they could find,” Suse remembers, her voice soft. “We were pulling items from the stock room, calling other stores … and I asked her why they needed so much tie dye all at once. She told me that her son, a very young man, had died suddenly and that his funeral was that weekend. She said that he loved tie dye, that bright vivid color was his joy. She wanted everyone at the funeral to be wearing tie dye. That was her closure.”

Suse is quiet for a moment, and then she continues. “She could have just purchased the clothes. But she felt safe enough and loved enough in our store to share why she needed them. These moments, they come for all of us, and I am grateful to be able to be a part of them. Those moments make me see that my role isn’t to work in a store. Because I’m working for Mexicali Blues, it’s so much bigger than that.”


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