About eight months in to my journey of getting into the sports product industry, I have learned and done more than I ever could have imagined since last July when I made the move up to the mecca of it all, Portland, OR. An industry that consists of powerhouses like Nike, adidas, and Under Armour on the sports side as well as outdoor focused monsters like Patagonia, The North Face, and Columbia. I wrote back on January 1st, what I intend to accomplish this year thus the introduction of what I decided to call #sherardvision. Since the beginning of the year, I haven’t stopped moving (peep the 15 episodes of #sherardvision at sherardvision.com) and haven’t stopped soaking up as much knowledge as possible from current and past industry leaders with experience in categories like product management/development, merchandising, marketing, and strategy just to name a few. There is so much more that goes in to the pair of shoes that we wear on the basketball court or that waterproof jacket that we zip up when going for a hike in the Northwest mountains. I fortunately have the opportunity to be continuously exposed to the ins and outs of it all and am extremely thankful for the University of Oregon for creating such an innovative program like it has with Sports Product Management.
The intentions for #sherardvision was to create a weekly piece of content, whether it came in the form of written, audio, or visual. For the last 15 weeks I decided to take the visual route recording my every move, editing and producing one-minute videos to show what I see weekly in this program and in this industry. For the most part this was a relatively simple process because of everything that I was being exposed to, especially since the last three plus months consisted of a product heavy focus. Being very hands on in the creation of a product for a brand that myself and four other classmates have created has blessed me with numerous opportunities to record what was going on with that behind the scenes (you’ll see this at a larger scale in the next 8–12 months or so) as well as exposure to actual sports product. Those visuals came from industry experienced guest speakers that would bring in samples of past work, for example a youth pair of Nike Air Max’s or an adidas University of Miami college football uniform. I also took it upon myself to go to different retail stores within the city to see what current trends brands were going for and what story these brands were trying to tell whether it be from a brand, product, or tech/innovation perspective. I recorded it all and I’m sure more is to come.
Things came to a stall in the past week. This is why my “weekly” post of #sherardvision did not come to light this last Monday. The way our program is set up is to emulate and mirror the 18-month lifecycle that it takes to ideate and create a product all the way through to marketing, merchandising, and putting a product in the market. At this point of the program, focus has shifted from product creation (due to the waiting for samples to be created and shipped from China) to strategic management and marketing strategy. A really fascinating and essential aspect of the life-cycle. One that I happen to be really intrigued by because no matter how amazing your product may be, it takes strategic management and a well thought out marketing plan to get that product noticed by your target consumer and to give your company a competitive advantage. Again, no excuse for the lack of content, I just have decided that the written route may be the way to go for the next few weeks or months.
Starting in the middle of June, I will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to fulfill a personal goal of mine to intern at a global sportswear company, that company being Under Armour. Being in Baltimore, MD for the summer will allow me to hone in on the merchandising side of the business with a focus on the North American market. This is extremely important for myself and the long-term vision of what I envision for the longevity of my career. I want to experience how the big boys approach this business. I want to master the craft of merchandising being that the stage of where retail and presentation of product is today has changed drastically over the last decade with the introduction and advancement of the digital world. All of these are important aspects to the company, driving in sales and ultimately bringing in a profit. At the end of the day, if you don’t sell you won’t be in business.
So, with all of this being said, I will continue to create content more focused on my opinions of certain aspects in the industry. Next week’s write up may be merchandising focused while the week after may touch on a certain brands strategy or recent product drops. If you have certain things that interest you, reach out to myself and I will put together my thoughts based on research and what I have learned here in Portland. I am not here to become an influencer or a blogger by any means. I am here to document and give access and information to those that have an interest to the industry and have no idea of how to get in or how it works. My personal goal is to become a leader at a global sportswear company. I want to make an impact at a deeper level with not just the consumer but the next generation of industry leaders. It is all part of the long-term vision. Nothing happens overnight and if it were easy, trust me, everybody would be doing it.
Head down, I’ll come up for air in 2025.
Currently reading: All Marketers Are Storytellers by Seth Godin.
Currently listening to: KOD by J. Cole.
Headspace Minute Update: 500 minutes meditated.