South Charlotte

Ex-social worker still passionate about work

Julia "Jules" Watts is pretty, fun and loves Aerosmith.

"I've seen Aerosmith perform 34 times. I was always an 'American Idol' fan, but when Stevie Tyler became a judge, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," Watts said. "Think if he reads this, I could get to meet him?"

Watts, 46, was born in Charlotte and attended South Mecklenburg High School until her family moved to Buffalo, N.Y., during her junior year.

"I finished high school in Buffalo, then went to Buffalo State College. I got my B.A. in social work," said Watts.

Watts was a social worker for a few years in Buffalo until the economy forced many agencies to close.

"I was ready to move back south around that time, so I took the opportunity to return to Charlotte," Watts said. She worked in Child Protective Services as a child abuse and neglect investigator for about 15 years.

"There were so many cases. I'd have about 21 a month," Watts said. "There were some success stories that I'm particularly proud of, but there were a lot of very sad stories, too."

She dealt with drug-addicted single moms, absentee or abusive dads, hungry children - all the situations you might expect Child Protective Services to attend to.

Watts' desire was to help people get clean or back on their feet and be able to take care of their children. She would make weekly visits, contact counselors and do what it took to stay on top of her cases.

Watts eventually needed a change, she said. "The streets weren't getting any safer, so I decided to turn my knack for makeup and skin care into a new career," she said. "My mom, in Florida, says I'm still helping people, just in a different way."

She's now the Edge Beauty Business Manager for Dillard's of SouthPark. "I'm just as passionate about this career as I was about the other one," she said. "I love my co-workers and the management here is great. Customer service is a huge focus."