When she started, Julia already had Wildling shoes on her feet and in her heart. A dash of luck and serendipity stepped in to help her kick-start her career right after her parental leave − and guided her path from social pedagogy to her role as People Admin Specialist at Wildling Shoes. In the interview, Julia speaks of happy coincidences and growth in a start-up.
Your early days at Wildling Shoes: When did you join, and what was different at Wildling Shoes back then compared with now?
Julia: I started in 2017 – with Wildling shoes already on my feet and in my heart. A stroke of luck that completely transformed my previous occupational path. Until then, I had worked as a social education worker in both outreach as well as in-house family support. With two small children of my own, I ended up working night shifts full-time – and because of childcare challenges, my husband and I found ourselves wondering on more than one occasion how we were going to balance our jobs with our family of four as the future unfolded.
I had no idea that just a short time afterwards, I’d be working at Wildling Shoes. And in the beginning, I would have been hard pressed to see any connection at all between the two jobs. My own personal approach to work is structured and based on set blocks of time – so the flexibility I now have at Wildling Shoes is a big help for balancing family life and a fulfilling work life.
How would you explain what you do at Wildling Shoes to a ten-year-old kid?
Julia: My oldest son is 11, and he knows that I’m working as a People Admin Specialist in the People & Culture Team. My seven-year-old still remembers my interim position in Wildling Shoes Logistics and often asks when we’re going to visit the warehouse again. For him, the warehouse and all the shoes there are more tangible things that are easier to comprehend. I think it’s important to familiarize both kids with the Wildling Shoes culture by being a part of it ourselves. To use all our individuality and diversity to achieve something – something that's about even more than what's on our feet.
Why did you apply to Wildling Shoes?
Julia: Applying to Wildling Shoes during my parental leave with my second child five years ago was actually more of a coincidence – one that I am still very grateful for to this day!
A fellow student from my former college days told me that her friend worked at Wildling Shoes and that they were still looking for staff in customer service. My heart skipped a beat when I looked down at the Wildling shoes on my feet, and something immediately clicked for me.
Initially, it was purely a gut decision – I didn’t think about whether it was rational. But putting my personal affinity for Wildling shoes aside, the rationale for making the switch – maybe just for a while (that’s what I thought at the time) – finally did become clear after lengthy deliberation.
What surprised you the most about Wildling Shoes?
Julia: What really surprised me was the growth and evolution of Wildling Shoes as a company. I personally had no doubt that Wildling Shoes would succeed beyond the start-up phase – but some people around me were actually surprised that the company didn’t just fade away after a few years as a start-up.
With only 20 employees back then, we were definitely a little smaller than we are today ;) After what has felt like multiple transformations and shared roller coaster moments, we’ve gone from a start-up with just a few employees, creative ideas, super-fast communication with each other and our customers, and modest Christmas parties where all we had to do was reserve a table at a restaurant – to where we are now. Keeping the train on track at all times has certainly been a challenge – adding the many new railcars to that train has allowed us to grow both in terms of team size and experience.
Since then, that feeling that made me say “YES” to Wildling Shoes right away in 2017 has lost none of its original intensity, and I am very proud to have been a part of Wildling Shoes for five years already and to have made a difference here together.
Will you show us a picture of the place where you like to work the most?
What are the things about your job that you wouldn’t want to do without?
Julia: My team! My journey at Wildling Shoes reached its safe harbor in the People & Culture Team, where I landed a year and a half ago. I first had the chance to get to know teams like Customer Service and Logistics better, to build bridges and to work with so many wonderful colleagues – all of which left a deep impression on me and allowed me to experience a working environment and team spirit that I had never encountered before.
Wildling Shoes team members from the very beginning
Wildling Shoes wouldn’t be Wildling Shoes without the people who bring values like environmental responsibility, fairness, and the pioneering spirit to life. Today there are around 280 employees – but who were among the first to lay the groundwork in a brand new, tiny start-up team? What was it like to help invent a new way of working back then, what has changed, and how do you manage to retain your own enthusiasm and sense of newness after all these years? In a series of interviews, Wildling Shoes’ earliest employees share their experiences and talk about how they’ve managed to keep their goals and values top of mind over the years as they’ve made their way at Wildling Shoes.
Cover image: private