Here is the latest in our installment series featuring the stories of the amazing members of AAPN Women. This week it is the turn of the NA West Marketing Manager – Textiles for Hyosung USA, Deborah Richert. This is Deborah's story in her own words.
"Growing up in a small town in southern Oregon in the 70’s, the reality of sports was truly like “Friday Night Lights” the fictional television series of what every town lives for: Friday night football. It’s not just about football, it’s the sharing of community and camaraderie through sport regardless of age, gender or race. And for me participating in sport, in the old days called “playing outside,” was first an escape from living on cranberry farm without neighbor kids to play with, then it was about being part of a team, then it became excelling in sport and encouraging others in their play as well.
When I was in junior high I turned running as play, to running in sports. I was fast, I was a sprinter. And I had the fortunate luck that one of the greatest record-setting Oregon collegiate and Olympic sprinters grew up and trained in the town nearest to mine. Steve Prefontaine was an icon to our county and state; from the University of Oregon, and to the emerging sport of running for recreation. When I would recognize Steve on a run when he was in his hometown of Coos Bay, I would ask my mother to slow down so I could wave to him. When you are young and impressionable, aspiring to be like somebody, you look at what outwardly makes them a hero. And Steve wore Nike training shoes.
I had to have the same Nike Cortez. White, with blue stripe in midsole and red Swoosh. For $17.99 I was just a little bit faster on the training track. And like Steve – and Nike – I liked being a little bit of a rebel, was a little bit sassy.
I also had dreams of being in fashion. Of traveling to NYC, Paris, London, and Milan. Of being a retail buyer for Meier & Frank, or Frederick & Nelson. Upon entering Oregon State University, I found there was a major that fit that dream: Fashion Merchandising. After completing my degree, and starting a retail management training program, I was now living in Portland and meeting people who worked for Nike in Beaverton, which made by passion for apparel and my sporting life possible. This set my first networking phase, meeting people over the next four years who could introduce me to someone at NIKE to have “a cup of coffee” and their time. I persevered and found myself selected to be part of the first retail management team for the newly formed Retail division for the new concept NIKE Towns.
After joining Nike in 1990 and through my time there in the early 2000’s, the level of creative passion, effort, teamwork and friendships taught me that relationships matter the most. I can be a leader and be part of a team. I can coach and mentor both staff and peers and watch proudly as they succeed higher in the company, to a new position at another brand or industry, or create their own business. It is about respect that our differences don’t make us wrong, that perhaps our passion for our work is in another position, in another place.
Today, fifteen years after leaving the global apparel sales division at Nike, my networking relationships from Nike introduced me to the sourcing supply chain as a vendor to the brand and the industry that I have truly enjoyed ever since. I fiercely honor and protect these relationships. Even when they are not reciprocal every time, they are a reflection of me, my trademark, and my reputation as a steward of this fun and fast changing industry. My passion for sport took me off the cranberry farm, and it lead me to this sport of achievement in my career."