When Connor Stevenson graduated from Hamilton College in 2015, he wasn’t sure what his next step should be. He had majored in physics but felt that his career trajectory was a work in progress. “I applied at the Newcastle flagship store because my dad knew Pete,” he admits. “I worked on the floor for nine months and I really enjoyed it, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a forever thing.”
Pete Erskine knew it, too. A few months into the job, Connor found himself driving the delivery van with the Mexicali Blues founder and co-buyer in the passenger seat. Out of the blue, Pete asked him if he liked numbers. “I majored in physics!” Connor says, laughing. “Yes, I like numbers. Pete wanted to know if I would be happier helping out at headquarters with social media and digital advertising.”
Physics isn’t just math—it’s mass and motion. Connor needed time and space to think it over. “I told Pete that I thought that would be great, but I wanted to travel first. And this is what is so great about Mexicali Blues. Pete told me to take a travel leave—I went to Nepal for six weeks! And I came back to a career that was an even better fit.”
So, what is that career, exactly? Connor shares the Mexicali Blues message on social media through online advertising, and manages search engine optimization and affiliated networks. It’s a lot of numbers, yes. But he’s not boxed into a cubicle or tucked into an office. In the freewheeling work environment Mexicali Blues is known for, he’s often asked to take on other fun tasks as needed. “I can get out from behind the screen and still be with people,” Connor explains. “I helped paint the conference room. I’ve taken orders downstairs, tagged items in the warehouse, and I’m still sometimes behind the wheel of the delivery van!”
Most days, though, you’ll find Connor parsing data. Just as he got to know customers by interacting with them on the floor in Newcastle, he continues to get to know them by tracking their response to Mexicali Blues ads, blog posts, features and charitable giving campaigns. And what has he learned about the Mexicali Tribe?
“Our customers love color,” he says confidently. “The images that get clicks and shares are explosions of vivid colors and patterns. If you walk into any Mexicali Blues stores, you are smacked with sensory input. Our community clearly craves that same experience online.”
Connor is also impressed by how much Mexicali Blues customers care about the company’s mission. “Our customers really care about the story we are telling,” he says. “They care about our purpose, not just our products. The people who work here and shop here know what really matters. Any time we talk about our World of Goods programs or philanthropic work we get all kinds of appreciation—and contributions.”
Connor’s Mexicali Moment came last winter, when he took another travel leave to California and Colorado. He met a lot of new people and they would ask about his job. And he realized that a job he took right out of college because his dad knew the owner had become something much, much more.
“Mexicali Blues is letting me live my best life,” he says, marveling. “I can coach the local high school soccer team. I can travel. I can pursue my passions. I am so lucky to work for a company so generous and filled with support for me being me. I’m growing here, personally and professionally. I’ve had other opportunities, but you know what? I wasn’t even tempted. I’m so glad Pete asked me if I liked numbers because I really love working here.”