My #MexicaliMoment: Meet Hannah Sparrell, Assistant Office Manager (and Model!) at Mexicali Blues
You might not know Hannah, but if you have spent any time shopping on our website you will recognize her. Despite being tall, slim, and having the warmest, sweetest smile, Hannah was a reluctant model at first, but a natural one from the start. “Yeah, people recognize me on the street all the time,” she admits. “And I’m so shy! I can’t even tell you how hard high school was for me. I never would have imagined doing this. But the first year we stocked the long Magic Dresses, they needed someone tall to model them … and everyone thought of me.”
Hannah is much, much more than a model at Mexicali Blues. Currently the highly capable assistant office manager in our Newcastle headquarters, Hannah spends her days creating killer customer experiences behind the scenes. The funny thing is, she never meant to stay at Mexicali Blues for long.
“I ran a successful restaurant with my partner,” Hannah explains, “and we had a tough and unexpected breakup. I tried, but I just couldn’t run the restaurant by myself. So I started looking for something else. Only it was 2009—the height of the recession—and there were no jobs anywhere,” Hannah remembers. “I was feeling really low and really lost. So when the manager of the Newcastle store reached out to my father to see if I would consider a short-term, part-time job, I said yes.”
It turns out that Mexicali Blues was exactly where Hannah was meant to be. “My first week at the store was spent thumbtacking tapestries to the ceilings,” she recalls with a laugh. “That tall thing again. I had really sore thumbs! But everything else felt great, and I became a full-time sales associate within that first year.”
Being shy made customer service interactions hard at first, but once again, Hannah was a natural. She moved off the sales floor and into the administrative office years ago, but there are still customers stopping by the Newcastle store to ask for her by name. “There’s a wonderful couple from New Jersey—Paul and Elaine—that visit Maine every year,” Hannah shares. “They always stop in the store to buy pendants for their cat sitter, and I’ve helped them pick out the perfect pendant for years. Now that I’m in the office we have to make a special appointment to shop for that pendant, but we always do. That they still ask for me—and make that time for me—means so much to me.”
Hannah also loves her co-workers, the products and the company values. “It’s more than a job. It’s a way of life,” she explains. “And Mexicali Blues encourages me to really live my life when I leave the office.” As the single mother of a 12-year-old girl, Hannah loves that Mexicali Blues makes it possible to see her daughter on and off the bus … and to train for her other career, in mixed martial arts (MMA).
That’s right. Hannah is tall, and Hannah is tough.
“I signed my daughter up for jujitsu lessons at our local gym,” Hannah explains. “I watched her in the classes and I was amazed at how strong and assertive she became on that mat. After everything that I had been through, I knew that I wanted to feel that way, too.”
Once again, Hannah was nervous—but a natural. “I tried kickboxing and everything. I had never thrown a punch in my life! It was empowering and exciting. I was in getting into great shape. I was good at it. And then … I started cagefighting.” Apprehensive but encouraged by her friends, Hannah got in the cage for her first fight—and she won.
This, then, is Hannah’s Mexicali Moment. Not the MMA fight, and not the first Mexicali Blues photo shoot, but the shining connection between them—the confidence they both gave her, and that Mexicali Blues helped her build by believing in her.
“Mexicali Blues opened the door holding back my confidence and it all came flooding back in,” she says. “I would never have tried MMA if I hadn’t tried modeling for Mexicali Blues first. And today, I’m recognized as often for my fights as I am for my photos. I’ve even done media appearances. Me!” she exclaims, marveling at the transformation. “And the Mexicali Blues team is so flexible about my schedule—and so unfazed if I show up to work with a black eye. They are corporate sponsors of my fights and a real support system in my life.”
Today, Hannah tries to share that same confidence with others. “I teach women’s self-defense classes every other month,” she says, proudly. “I know what this change has meant to me and I want to help other women and girls take that same step forward.” She’s an eager, effective teacher—and a natural.
Cheer Hannah on at her next match on November 19th at the Androscoggin Colisee!
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