We, at Made for the W, had the privilege of being invited to such a fulfilling and nourishing environment, courtesy of Nike to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the company, hosting Nike Future 50 For Her. We were welcomed to Santa Monica, and hosted right on the ocean, to take in what this was meant to be. It felt like a reset that was needed, while serving as a reminder of how necessary it is to unite in sisterhood and connect in a space that we, as women, share in the realm of being rooted in sports. It immersed us to embody what it means when Nike is innovating for her – through Product, their Digital app ecosystem and Retail – as they head into the next 50 years. “Over the past 50 years, Nike has pioneered new ways of innovating to serve the future of athletes and sport. Today, Nike is redefining sport for a new generation and with their consumers, athletes, collaborators and partners, Nike is moving people into action to create a better world through sport.”
Nike set the scene, with the Welcome Dinner at Nike LAHQ, where we were met with open arms for an immersive evening, to share space and rub shoulders with some of the greats, who were also Nike athletes. It was by design, that we were seated at the table with the GOAT herself, Lisa Leslie. Knowing what foundation our platform is built upon, it felt full circle to be there with her, discussing how Made for the W came into fruition, and how she was one of the pivotal players who helped the path we were on. Being able to experience the energy that evening and what it meant to fill a room with women in sports, was telling of what this week would exemplify and encompass for us. Like Nike says, “We know her better, so we can serve her better.”
The next day, we were able to frequent the infamous Blue Ribbon Sports on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica. If you’ve read Shoe Dog, you know why it’s special. This was Phil Knight’s original retail store that opened in 1967, prior to transitioning to what later became Nike. Yet, the beauty of this location is that it wasn’t converted to into another Nike location. Instead, Nike decided to turn it into a community hub so that its customers can gather for runs and events, as well as preserve it, as a modern-day landmark to how far Nike has come. There was midcentury modern furniture, with a stylish, yet comfortable aesthetic. Yet, one of my favorite aspects of it was the unique shelving along the wall, which had a mix of vintage magazines, old posters, shoe art, books and records – my type of vibe.
Here, we were hosted by Vanessa Garcia-Brito, Nike’s VP of North America Communication. Her energy was warm and welcoming, which is no surprise that she is known for her people-first and purpose-driven approach to leadership. She then introduced the amazing Rebeckah Price, who’s aura was so soothing, along with her voice, as she led the meditation that morning. It definitely made me want to start my day like that, daily. As we recentered, it followed up with conversation moderated by Vanessa, amongst Joan Benoit Samuelson and Chloe Kim, discussing what it has meant to be a Nike athlete and rewriting the story of a woman in sport, while making it their own. We left Blue Ribbon Sports feeling replenished and renewed, ready to take on the day, as we had such motivating figures in our presence to plant those seeds.
That was followed by an Inclusive Design for Every Body session hosted at Nike LAHQ, led by Nike’s VP/GM of North America Women’s, Becca Kerr, Nike’s VP of Women’s Apparel Product Design, Tania Flynn, Nike’s Women Research Director, Bridget Munro and Nike’s VP, Global Apparel Development, Melissa Schirripa. It was intriguing to hear the process that went into making each garment, tailored to the many shapes and sizes of women. We even got to see it translate visually, as various models wore various bras, to see how these pieces adapt to different physiques. The presentation was seamless, as the discussion surrounded how “Nike designed a simpler bra and leggings strategy based on sensation rather than sport specific, making it easier for women to find the silhouettes and franchises they love in any size.”
Becca Kerr stated, “Women truly are on the leading edge of sport, and it’s making sport and Nike better. Our continuing investment in women’s research, sports science technology and data visualization give us the ability to understand her needs. Nike’s capabilities comprise the most intelligent and holistic support system we have ever built for women.” Tania Flynn also added that, “One of the biggest shifts you’re seeing from Nike is we’re embracing an expanded meaning of athletes. Nike’s playing field has widened and leading to a surge of meaningful women’s innovation – from maternity to modesty to new bra and leggings for all body shapes and sizes.”
As we continued to celebrate Nike’s 50 Years of Collaboration in Sport x Culture, we walked outside onto the Nike LAHQ’s field where we partook in a HIIT & Dance Workout with Nike Trainer, Tara Nicolas, and Nike Choreographer, Dexter Carr. While breaking a sweat and learning a fire dance routine, we were able to bond and connect amongst each other, while exemplifying the movement behind what a Nike athlete means. “Celebrating 50 years of collaboration, Nike has a history of intersecting sport and culture, while expanding and redefining both for each generation.”
The final day was nothing short of phenomenal. We were able to begin our day by heading out to Nike The Grove, and our group was in admiration, as we walked in. We were given a tour of the store, as well as shown how many key pieces had been integrated for women, as there was an entire floor dedicated to us, as women. After an avid shopping experience, we headed back over to Nike LAHQ, for the session titled, Engaging Women Through Our Retail Partners Session, which was led by Karie Conner, VP/GM of Nike’s North America Kids’ Business. I had the pleasure of having been seated next to her at the Welcome Dinner, and after engaging that entire evening, it was amazing to see Karie lead a necessary dialogue, that we are so passionate about and aligned with.
This panel consisted of Nike NBHD Partners Julie Hogg of Wish in Atlanta, Abby Albino of Makeaway in Toronto, Beth Birkett of Bephie’s Beauty Supply in LA, Jennifer Ford of Premium Goods in Houston, and Sally Aguirre of Sally’s Shoes in LA. With our purpose and platform to be rooted in women in sports, sneakers, and culture, it felt like a full circle moment to be there, listening to the likes of these barrier breaking women, who carved out their own way, in a male-dominated space, by being women sneaker store owners. “As Nike’s local marketplace partners, they all play a critical role in creating authentic connections between Nike and the communities it serves – they are tastemakers, arbiters of culture and pillars of their communities. Through this, Nike is bringing unique insights in building women’s sneaker culture and are fostering community and connection.” To have establishments, that are for us and by us, resonate on a much deeper level, and to hear them express how their journey has been, served as a reminder of how we are far from being alone, when it comes to what we all experience.
That was followed up with the session of How Nike is Using Digital to Serve Her. This was led by the amazing Lisa Leslie, being a dedicated Nike athlete, and Shannon Glass, VP/GM of North America’s Nike Direct. It was such a needed dialogue, as we tapped into how Nike’s dedication to innovation and investment with women has adjusted accordingly, as we move onward and upward. Lisa actually pointed me out mid-convo, to acknowledge how necessary platforms like Made for the W are, especially for the next generation, such as her children. She made it a point that we may look to the likes of her as inspiration, but it’s essentially what we are all building, as women in sports, that is creating that new chapter of change and innovation, to make room for fellow women and avid supporters. Moments like that are stark reminders that we are indeed on the path that is meant for us, to let us know to keep doing the work. Shannon Glass stated that, “No matter where she’s at in her sport journey, Nike is invested in serving women with the products, content and experiences – across our digital ecosystem, in our Nike stores and with our marketplace partners – that empower and connect her to sport.”
They also discussed how “Nike is introducing new programming across its digital ecosystem that redefines what it means to be an athlete.” This includes Nike’s (M)ove like a Mother, a 48-week program designed to support women during and after pregnancy, in the Nike Training Club app, which was very touching, as the room was brought to tears. We wrapped up at Nike LAHQ, by watching Nike’s 50th Anniversary Anthem, “Seen It All”, which reprises Spike Lee’s iconic role as Mars Blackmon from “She’s Gotta Have It,” “where he passionately talks about the epic sports moments and iconic athletes of the past 50 years. As a counterpoint, we also hear from “Zimmie,” who conveys the unlimited potential around the next 50 years of sport.”
Following that, we were able to bring such an amazing time to a close, with an audio guided run to the beach, courtesy of the Beats Fit Pro and Nike running shoes that we were provided. We got a sneak peek at some new NRC programming, as we ran along the Santa Monica Pier, overseeing the Pacific Ocean. It was the perfect way to end what had been a couple of life changing days, when we all shared our sentiments in the cocktail hour that followed the run, as we bid each other adieu. In a matter of days, we had grown so accustomed to being surrounded by such greatness, we were surely sad to see one another go. That also is a testament to how exemplary Nike had curated and carefully crafted such an experience. We left with such a motivated mindset, that these days were indeed indicative of the sky being the limit, and as women, we were made to even expand beyond those lines. The journey is only beginning for us to continue the groundwork that Nike has invested in writing a new story for what it means for women to thrive in sport, and in life.