Bringing fresh perspective as the second generation of her family at upscale fashion store
COURTNEY GLOVER PERCY
Occupation: Marketing director, Julian Gold.
Personal: Married since June 2008 to Charles Brandon Percy.
Why she’s a Role Model: Brings a fresh eye to contemporary fashion as a second-generation retail professional; stays committed to community service by planning outreach events benefiting local charities.
Believes: “With compassion, we can find ways to care for everyone.”
Her own role models: “My family — my mother, for playing a lot of roles beautifully; my father, who is solid as a rock; my brother Matthew, a teacher and coach who is entirely his own person; my younger brother Tyler, who is constantly happy; and my husband, who manages to make something positive out of every day.”
People would be surprised that … “I am not always perfectly dressed on weekends. If it’s a lovely day, I want to be outside, wearing more casual clothes — yes, even blue jeans.”
What she’s reading: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, a memoir of travel and self-discovery; and Fat Land by Greg Critser, an investigation into the relationship between processed foods and the
American obesity epidemic
By Paula Allen
Among the willowy forms in the Julian Gold display window is a blonde in basic black, holding a baby in snowy white. If the young woman weren’t jiggling the infant gently, the well-dressed pair could be taken for mannequins, posing in classic winter wear. At a visitor’s inquiry, she steps out of the window and introduces herself. She’s Courtney Glover Percy, marketing director for all four Julian Gold stores in San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Midland. The baby belongs to a customer, who’s trying on clothes. With a pat and a smile, Percy hands him off to another employee, as she heads up a winding set of stairs to a no-frills area that feels far from the sales floor’s bustle and glitz. “We’re going up to Mr. Glover’s office,” she tells a co-worker. That’s James Glover, the store’s chief operating officer and partner, who’s also Percy’s father. Her office isn’t much bigger than her desk, so she takes a seat at the conference table in Glover’s larger space. “I grew up in the store,” says Percy, whose mother, Susan Glover, also works at Julian Gold as cosmetics buyer. Percy has worked at the venerable specialty store since her days as a teen-age seasonal employee, starting out in gift-wrapping.
The company expanded to Austin while she was a student at the University of Texas, where she majored in history, minored in English and worked weekends at the new store. During college, Percy also acquired experience in other directions. A member of Pi Beta Phi, she became president of her sorority chapter and
was a member of the Greek Business Association. She interned for former state Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones (now Texas Railroad Commissioner), mentored in Austin elementary schools and spent the summer after graduation in China, where she volunteered on a college campus and in the surrounding community.
A few months after graduation, though, she was back home in San Antonio and at Julian Gold. Despite her liberal arts education, she says, “I always thought there was potential that I would come to work here.” Members of her family had worked at Frost Bros., the now defunct upscale specialty store, and at Neiman Marcus. “I was always very interested in retail,” Percy says. “Every day is different, and I love working with our customers.”
Luckily, there was a new position open at the stores’ corporate headquarters in San Antonio, for someone who would take charge of all aspects of marketing: advertising, publicity and special events. These functions “had been juggled by multiple people,” she says, who had other primary responsibilities and recognized the need for a marketing effort that took changing demographics and technology into account.
Like anyone else, Percy had to apply for the job, interviewing with Julian Gold president and co-owner Bob Gurwitz, son-in-law of the late Julian and Dorothy Gold, who founded the store in 1945. It’s still a family company, Percy says, and not only in terms of ownership. Many of the store’s staff have worked there for decades, and among customers, she says, “Our goal is to make this a place where mother, daughter and grandmother can come in to shop, and each will feel comfortable and find something she likes.”
Percy began her present position in 2005, placing print ads, working with the company’s Web site, www.juliangold.com, and inaugurating periodic e-mail blasts to alert customers to special sales and trunk shows. One of her favorite parts of the job has been planning special events, including fashion shows that benefit local charities. “Because we sell women’s clothes and baby clothes, organizations that help women and children have a special place in our hearts,” says Percy. Over the last few years, the groups she has worked with have included Any Baby Can, which provides assistance to children with special needs; the Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodations for families from out of town whose children are being treated in San Antonio hospitals; and the Southwest Foundation Forum, support group of the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.
Besides giving back to the community — a value Percy stresses – special events also help to extend the store’s reach. “San Antonio has grown so much,” she says. “While we’ve been here for more than 60 years, there are still a lot of people moving in who don’t know about us.” Charity fashion shows, sometimes featuring support-group members as models, as well as a popular series of Ladies’ Night Out in-store events introduce Julian Gold to potential customers who may be newcomers to the city, living far from its near northside location in Olmos Park. Fashions chosen for these events may be tooled to the age and interests of the group, There’s no such thing as a single “San Antonio style,” says Percy: “We have a diverse and unique mixture of cultures. If there’s one thing we share, it’s a love of colorful things, and there’s a need for the tailored look in the corporate world. Otherwise, it’s a neat mixture, not one particular style that says San Antonio.” Her own personal style has come a long way since she was a student at MacArthur High School. Far from being the perfectly dressed princess in outfits from the store, she says, “I played a lot of tennis and ran around in short skirts and T-shirts.” On the job now, she wears clothes from the store’s stock of classic and contemporary designer fashions, such as the black tunic and slacks she’s wearing, accessorized with understated gold jewelry. Her own wardrobe essentials are “a good suit, black pants and a white button-up shirt,” to pair or alternate with pieces that reflect each season’s freshest new looks. While Julian Gold’s buyers make the choices about what appears on the sales floor, Percy keeps up with trends and had a hand in creating a new feature for the company’s Web site, a “Perfect 10” list of top trends for each season that tracks new looks and invites visitors to e-mail questions for contact with a sales associate. E-mail has become an increasingly important way for the store and its customers to stay in touch during the past few years. “It’s a quick way to communicate,” says Percy, who notes that many people seem to be checking their e-mail more often.
In some aspects, though, Julian Gold hasn’t changed in 63 years. “We are proud of our level of personal service,” Percy says. “We do our best to make sure everyone is happy with their experience of shopping here.” Whether that means answering e-mailed questions promptly, doing a little in-store babysitting, or on at least one occasion, helping a customer get a flat tire changed in the parking lot, Julian Gold employees are encouraged to go the extra mile.
The store is traditional in another way, as well. With few exceptions, such as holiday hours and in-store events, Julian Gold closes at 5:30 p.m. and isn’t open on Sunday. “Because this is a family company, (management) has an appreciation of how important it is to have time to be with family,” says Percy. “Our employees value not having to stay late in the evening, being able to balance their work and home commitments.”
Asked how her coworkers reacted when she joined the company’s management team, Percy says, “If there was any resentment (of the boss’ daughter), I wasn’t aware of it. I think it helped that I had been working here a long time before that, and in the store, I don’t ask for any special treatment based on my family relationships.”
Last summer, she was married to Charles Brandon Percy, whom she met through a family of mutual friends. As she planned their wedding — with a dress, shoes, jewelry, bridesmaids’ dresses and invitations from Julian Gold — staff who had known her since childhood pitched in to help, and “the whole store was invited to the wedding.” The couple hopes to have children someday, but at present Courtney Percy is concentrating on her work at Julian Gold and on finishing a master’s degree in education at the University of Texas at San Antonio. That may point to a career shift sometime in the future, but for now, she says, “I’m happy to continue growing with the store.” Besides, she adds, “It’s wonderful to come to work where I can see my family every day.”