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Women in Power: Macy’s Emily Erusha-Hilleque on Building Brands for Gen Z and Trusting Her Intuition

As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, we asked 15 footwear execs who have stepped into prominent new roles this year to talk about overcoming obstacles and their advice for the next generation.

In March, Macy’s hired Emily Erusha-Hilleque to lead its private brands design organization. Prior to this, Erusha-Hilleque worked at Target Corp., where she most recently served as the design director of ready-to-wear, young contemporary private label, design partnerships.

Here, she discusses leadership style, deciphering Gen Z and her greatest opportunity at Macy’s:

My leadership mantra:

“[As coined by leadership expert] Simon Sinek, ‘The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. It’s to create an environment in which great ideas can happen. This is a mantra that I have built my leadership style around. The second mantra is: You cannot open new doors with old keys. We are at such an important time,  where the customer and the retail environment are congruently changing at a rapid pace. Old keys can inform where we have been, but new doors will only be opened with fresh ones that are created.”

The biggest opportunity and biggest challenge in my new role:

“My greatest opportunity and privilege in this role is to build a private brand strategy and portfolio that is rooted in customer-centric and original design. Ownable brands for Macy’s, that have human-like values, are digitally led, and customers feel were created just for them. This challenge will be met head on by bringing together this industry-leading design team, and unleashing their creative power and talents to achieve magic.”

The most significant career barrier I’ve faced and how I overcame it:

“It was being charged to build brands in the Gen Z space, as this generation is like no other and holds the largest
spending power in the market. All the traditional rules, ways of shopping, individual aesthetic identities, style profiles, points of inspiration and relationships to brands have become blurred. How do you design and build brands for a generation that is so fragmented and forever changing? You overcome it by putting their voice and values at the center of all that you do and taking a very entrepreneurial mindset to test, learn and iterate.”

Advice for women starting out in their careers:

“Stand in your infinite value, and trust your intuition, it will never steer you wrong. Let your soul shine and others will follow.”

One thing I wish someone had told me:

“Don’t allow anyone else to define who you are or what you are capable of.”

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