Auhzha Wright has been working in a salon since she was 16 years old, following in the footsteps of her aunt and her mom. “Hair is my art. It's my form. It’s a part of who I am as a person,” she said, adding that she does more than “make women beautiful.”
Many of her clients work whatever jobs make ends meet. “They don’t understand what it is to start a career, how benefits work, saving for retirement.” Wright reminds them that her career outside the salon—the career unfolding at Amazon—is proof that there’s an upward path. “I let them know that there are opportunities out there for them, and that there’s always a way,” she said.
Wright was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side. It’s where she raised her son and where she works as a hairdresser. She still chooses to live nearby. The area has seen its share of struggles over the years. The disappearance of manufacturing jobs and a lack of educational opportunities have contributed to an ongoing cycle of poverty. According to recent census data, 1 in 10 Chicago residents are living in extreme poverty, meaning their income is 50% below the federal poverty line, and 1 in 4 children are living in poverty.
In 2018, Wright was struggling financially. Business had slowed at the salon, so she applied for a part-time job at an Amazon delivery station. She started out as a seasonal associate, “and then I just kept getting promoted. The path has been amazing.”
Wright is now an Area Manager, responsible for day-to-day operations at the Amazon delivery station in Melrose Park, west of Chicago.
“I’m actually on the floor with the associates, helping them, cheering them on, giving them a drive,” Wright said. “Being there is helping a lot of other associates along the way with their career path as well.”
Amazon has 20 last mile facilities in Illinois, including a new facility in Pullman, a South Side neighborhood of Chicago. With the investment in these delivery stations, Amazon has created thousands of new jobs and directly powered the launch of more than 80 small businesses in the greater Chicago area via its Delivery Service Partner Program.
Amazon already employs 23,000 people at distribution and fulfillment centers in Illinois. The company also plans to hire 1,500 employees at its four grocery stores opening in Naperville, Bloomingdale, Oak Lawn, and Schaumburg.
In addition to job creation, Amazon partners with local communities in Chicagoland. The company donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to area food banks in 2020 and invested in neighborhood improvement groups like My Block, My Hood, My City.
While Wright continues to build on her second career with Amazon, she still chooses to do hair a few nights a week at the salon to maintain a connection with her clients and inspire them with her own upward path.
“If I can give people hope by sharing my story, make them feel good inside and out—that’s a good thing,” she said.
Amazon offers thousands of full and part-time opportunities across its operations network, paying at least $15 per hour with benefits starting on day one. Visit amazon.com/apply.