Julie Smartz has come a long way from her beginnings in retail.
She started as an intern for Chicago department store chain Carson Pirie Scott while studying retail management at Purdue University in Indiana.
As new director of retail development for Primedia Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising division of publisher Primedia Inc., she will be responsible for building the brand in the retail sector.
She had originally conceived of a career in fashion design. “I realized I wasn’t that good at it,” she said. “I was strong in mathematics. Buying was a little more suited for me and there were more opportunities in buying.”
When she graduated, Smartz worked as a department manager for the juniors section at Carson, with 20 people reporting to her.
Smartz was most recently senior manager at Mattel Brands Consumer Products Division, where she headed “With Love Barbie,” a program meant to promote the famous doll in Macy’s stores. She organized print and billboard advertising, set up Barbie appearances, promoted a Barbie fashion show and created 22 Barbie Boutiques areas within Macy’s stores dedicated to Barbie.
“The biggest challenge was integrating everyone and making the marketing consistent,” she said. She was most recently in charge of supervising Mattel’s Target account.
Smartz will face new challenges at Primedia. These will include familiarizing herself with a new type of product line. Smartz will be working with consumer products such as apparel, accessories, interactive games, calendars, automotive accessories, and books related to approximately 150 specialist brands such as Motor Trend, Import Tuner, In-Fisherman and Creating Keepsakes.
Her other interests include wine tasting, painting and real estate. Smartz lives with her husband John in Marina del Rey.