By Caitlin Meyers
University Relations Intern
Western Illinois University alumna Julie Foy (1990) is a model for WIU graduates and current students endeavoring for success in sales, marketing and human resources, while balancing a family and continuing to serve the community.
Foy has held three major positions in the retail/wholesale fashion industry since she left WIU. Foy joined Dansko Footwear’s staff in April 2014 and is currently the national accounts manager.
Prior to her current job with Dansko Footwear, Foy was the divisional merchandise manager of footwear and accessories for Lands’ End. She also worked for a privately held Midwest based retailer, where she managed multiple product categories, excelling in her many roles, and was promoted to general merchandise manager.
“It is unusual for someone to move from a successful retail career to a wholesale career. Dansko Footwear was looking for a new approach to their business and felt someone with a retail buying background would be a fresh approach,” said Foy.
As the national accounts manager, Foy manages many large retail accounts including Amazon, Dillards, Nordstrom, QVC and Zappos, just to name a few.
“I am always representing Dansko Footwear—from wearing the product every day to presenting the new products each season—partnering on a retailers Dansko sales plan to executing a marketing plan we help our retailers sell Dansko Footwear products from start to finish,” said Foy.
QVC is one of the national accounts that Foy manages for Dansko Footwear. She is on air at QVC when the brand is being offered for sale. Upcoming QVC appearances include Monday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Dec. 21 at 1 a.m. CST.
Foy says she attributes much of her success in her early years to her time at WIU.
Foy attended Griggsville High School in Pike County, Ill. with a graduating class of just 28.
“Being involved and attending a medium sized university was essential for my future success. I needed a balance of academic and campus involvement,” said Foy.
The desire for a medium-size student body led Foy to Macomb.
The student body was around 13,000 when Foy attended WIU in the late 1980s. According to Foy, this was perfect size to be involved in campus activities, prepare for a future career and build lifelong friendships.
Foy received a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a minor in marketing. While attending WIU, she was involved with the University Union Board, Student Government and Delta Zeta Sorority. Foy served as the Delta Zeta chapter secretary and chairperson for the Delta Zeta Illinois State Meeting, hosted at WIU in 1990.
“Like many students I worked multiple jobs to pay for my education. My campus job was working for Darrell Negley at the University Union Sign Shop. In May of 1990, I was awarded the University Union Employee of the Month. I also worked off campus as a waitress at a local restaurant,” said Foy.
Balancing work and extra-curricular activities, along with academic accomplishments was the just the beginning of what Foy needed to balance a successful career and a family.
She married her husband Jason in October 1994, and is mother to two sons, a 19-year-old named Jake and a 16-year-old named Justin, who is a junior at Rockridge High School. Foy is excited her son Jake will be transferring to WIU in Fall 2016.
“I am able to work from home in this position but that also means I spend a lot of time on airplanes. Each week I am traveling somewhere either to work with accounts or attend meetings in our corporate offices in West Grove, PA. I have to work on balancing all aspects of my life,” said Foy.
Although the position is demanding at times, the job also comes with many perks.
“During my career in retail buying and wholesale I have been exposed to people and brands I really never imagined. I have traveled to New York City (Manhattan) over 175 times in the last 20 years. I have crossed the street alongside of Donald and Ivanka Trump. I have sat and talked with Russel Simmons for 45 minutes and didn’t even realize who he was. I was able to see Ralph Lauren in person and was surprised to see his stature was quite small. I even once ran into Hulk Hogan in the lobby of my New York hotel. I am often times mistaken for Tina Fey, Sandra Bullock or Sarah Palin. It really just depends their current look and if I am wearing glasses or not,” said Foy.
With a busy lifestyle, Foy wanted to find a meaningful way to give back to her community using the knowledge that she has gained from her career.
“I currently manage the “Rocket Shop” for the Rockridge Boosters Organization. This means designing screen prints, ordering merchandise, managing the inventory and marketing the products. Each year we are able to keep the school spirit strong, our fans excited about ‘what is new’ at each game and raise money to support all extracurricular activities,” said Foy.
The Foy family had a scare this past year and learned that its oldest son, Jake was diagnosed Hodgkin Lymphoma. Foy said her Dansko family was very supportive and provided her with time off necessary to travel with Jake to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for treatments.
“I can’t say enough about the support, care and flexibility Dansko provided as we were managing the unexpected,” said Foy. “Jake is now cancer-free and is looking forward to attending WIU and majoring in agricultural business. As a WIU alumna, I am ecstatic about his choice and know that his experience and career opportunities will be limitless.”