She Loves Shoes, Networking And Helping Others Succeed

By Laura Dukes
The Frederick News-Post, Md.

Julie Gaver is one of those people who are lucky enough to sometimes have her favorite pastimes collide with her career.

The 57-year-old Myersville resident wears several hats as a wife to her high school sweetheart, mom of two grown sons, corporate leadership trainer and author of the “Must Love Shoes” books she self-published.

With a background in marketing, public relations and sales, Gaver has been self-employed for the past 17 years with her company, Julie Gaver Training and Development. She started the business when her sons were in middle school.

“I knew if I started something on my own, I would have more control over my schedule and my life,” she said.

Gaver, a Middletown native, has worked with organizations, including the Office of Education and Training for the U.S. Senate, on issues such as building teamwork and adjusting to change within an office.

What’s key to an office environment, Gaver said, is employees recognizing one another’s uniqueness.

“I think a lot of people think team-building is ‘We all have to think the same way,’ and it’s not that at all,” Gaver said.

Lately, she said she has been working with female-oriented companies, which led her to write “Must Love Shoes” in 2009 and “Must Love Shoes 2” in 2011.

Their theme is finding humor in the little things in everyday life, Gaver said of the books, which are a collection of mostly autobiographical stories.

“A lot of them have to do with embarrassing moments,” she said, continuing that she hears from her readers that many of them have had similar experiences. “It almost begins a conversation, which is really the purpose of the book.”

The stories have been particularly popular with local book clubs, Gaver said. This has helped her find a niche market to start an annual charity event, “Soles of Love in the Garden.”

The event is hosted at Gaver’s home, and all attendees are asked to bring at least one pair of new children’s shoes. The shoes are donated to the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick, Project Alive, and Children in Need and Girls Inc., both of Washington County.

This year’s event brought in 545 pairs of shoes from 160 attendees, Gaver said.

Gaver plans to write her third book, “Must Love Shoes Goes to Italy,” after she and a close friend, Kelly Beach, host a women’s retreat in Tuscany.

During the retreat, 13 attendees will visit several businesses owned by women.

Her client base tends to be women who are looking for fuller lives and more meaningful connections, Gaver said. She has hosted cooking classes, a retreat in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and a book club at the Curious Iguana in Frederick.

Mary Barry, of Frederick, said she met Gaver through her professional life, but they became close friends quickly.

Barry was attending a workshop Gaver facilitated, which Gaver said focused on networking and “not being a wallflower.”

“She’s extremely inviting and connected to women’s ways,” Barry said of Gaver.

One of the most important things Barry said she has learned from Gaver is to be true to herself, even if it means wearing her heart on her sleeve.

“So many times we meet people and want to change for them,” Barry said, continuing that this is never the case with Gaver. “I would put her in the category of one of my dearest friends.”

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