The Business Side of Fashion
Joy Corson ’98
A young Joy Corson ’98 fell in love with fashion at an early age. She spent her Saturday mornings watching her favorite show, “Style with Elsa Klensch” on CNN, admitting this was the highlight of her week. Corson began working in retail as a teenager to gain experience in the fashion industry. With an immense love for fashion, it was only fitting that she work in retail. That was just the beginning to a successful career in the field.
Corson’s eagerness to experience more of the fashion industry led to her interest in Philadelphia University’s design programs. She has always enjoyed the business side of fashion with an appreciation for design and creative elements, which is why she enrolled in the Fashion Merchandising program. “The University’s business program is stellar,” noted Corson. “The professors were very hands-on and the classes were specific to each field.” It was Corson’s then mentor and professor, Judith Zernik, who recommended her for a position at Nordstrom. At the time, the King of Prussia Mall was expanding and Nordstrom needed personal shopping assistants. She was hired for the position and loved it.
Corson was very involved with Fashion Industries Association (FIA) as a student. She became a member of the organization her freshmen year and was on the board as a senior. As a member, Corson always participated in the fashion shows by assisting with modeling and production. While on the board, she worked closely with the annual student fashion show in May. FIA provided its members with opportunities to visit various designer showrooms in New York City. Those were trips Corson will treasure for a lifetime.
She was recently asked to speak to a group of local high school students about her career. “Their eyes were the size of saucers,” explained Corson. “I had déjà vu!” She was immediately reminded of the awe she felt as a student and her fascination with the fashion industry and New York in general. The FIA trips were a clear indication that New York City was where she belonged.
During the summer of 1997, Corson was an intern at the Giorgio Armani corporate office in New York assisting in the showroom during the men’s sales campaigns. Upon finishing her last semester at PhilaU, Corson was asked to join the Giorgio Armani team. Her first day was the Monday following graduation.
With Giorgio Armani, Corson traveled to all of the stores on the East Coast and Canada to host store trainings of the sales staff in each market. In her senior positions at Escada and Hugo Boss, Corson spent close to six months in Germany. The other half of the year, Corson would travel throughout the United States regularly hosting trunk shows in all of the key markets for both brands. Her first 12-15 years were spent traveling extensively for the brands she represented.
Currently, Corson is the Vice President of Sales for the Calvin Klein Collection division for men’s, women’s and accessories, handling the North America account base. “We have a dynamic company structure and creative leaders all working towards one goal – to grow the business in the most optimal and organic way – never compromising the DNA of the brand’s heritage,” said Corson. In this role, Corson travels to the Calvin Klein, Inc. Milan office for Men’s Fashion Weeks, as well as top-tier metropolitan area stores in the States. Fashion Week is one of the most exciting times of year that requires a lot of planning, preparation and teamwork to produce successfully. Once the shows wrap-up, the collections are sold to retailers in their showrooms. The Calvin Klein Collection team is attentive with buyers to ensure the assortments selected will best suit the buyers markets. One of Corson’s responsibilities is to ensure profitability internally and on the retail side. This financial planning piece is a very complex matrix involving strategic planning and pricing.
Corson spent many years focusing on her career and confessed that it took her about ten years to understand the importance of a work-life balance. She had an aggressive travel schedule early in her career which allowed her to see the world, but left very little time for herself, friends and family. In 2010, Corson met her now husband and it was then that she realized it was time to slow down. “I began to understand the importance of having a balance and made a conscious effort to slow down my New York life.” In 2012, Corson bought herself what she considers to be the best birthday gift – a beach home that would allow her to decompress and escape on weekends to see her friends, family and spend quality time with her husband. “Downtime is paramount,” stressed Corson.
Throughout the years, Corson has learned that having a positive attitude is everything. Her parents instilled values which she incorporates into her professional life – to be able, responsible, reliable, accountable, pay attention, observe leaders and mentors, and most importantly, work hard. It is important to get involved and take advantage of opportunities when they become available. Her advice to others, “Stay positive and remain true to yourself!”