Hire Up: Designer Amy Egelja Has Worked at Some of Comfort’s Biggest Brands; Now She’s Putting Her Stamp on Aetrex

In our new column, Hire Up, FN checks in with new execs from companies across the industry to talk about leadership, strategy and burning industry issues.

For two decades, Amy Egelja has been sharpening her design skills in markets from athletic to comfort. Now as VP of footwear design at Aetrex, Egelja is getting ready to launch her first collection for spring ’20.

Here, she reflects on the positions and people who helped shape her career.

How I Got Here: “I studied illustration and industrial design at Rhode Island School of Design and started working in footwear right away. In the early years, I worked for a number of companies across classifications, including active/athletic and then comfort/lifestyle. Highlights include Airwalk in its heyday, which was an incredible few years while the brand enjoyed tremendous success. That experience solidified my passion for product and branding. I joined Clarks during the time Bob Infantino led the company. That time was a period of growth and expansion, exposing me to a different business model and consumer category. After a few years of consulting, I joined Vionic, formerly Orthaheel, as creative director and VP of design. I learned a lot about orthotics technology and its potential to revolutionize comfort. I later had the opportunity to join Aetrex and help evolve its growing footwear business.

Big Goals: “Aetrex is a 70-year-old company that leads in orthotic and foot scanning technology, along with a fast growing footwear business. I’m working to bring awareness to foot health and the benefits of built-in orthotics while bringing the consumer a beautiful contemporary design she will love.”

Major Challenges: “Building orthotics into product can present both technical and design challenges. Luckily, we have a great team with a diverse range of backgrounds that help bring this product to life.”

Career Mentors: “My father has been a consistent mentor to me. His background in business and engineering is a great complement to my design background.  He’s an incredible problem solver and can build, fix and move practically anything. He’s consistent, fair and, above all, kind. My friend and former colleague Michelle Poole, SVP of global product and merchandising at Crocs, has also been a great support, confidante, and inspiration to me.”

The Best Decision I Ever Made: “I worked independently for a number of years, consulting for a range of comfort and lifestyle brands. While a significant amount of that time was dedicated to building the women’s business at Sperry, I was also able to take on some great projects with other brands at different stages of growth or transformation. The diversity of brands and the business challenges and opportunities, coupled with philosophies about product creation and brand growth have been something I’ve been able to draw [from].”

Worst Decision I Ever Made: “There have been times I should have been more proactive about creating change when something wasn’t feeling right or working anymore.”

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