When we read stories of start-ups in the sports industry a lot of the protagonists seem to be in their twenties. While there are plenty of young business founders, there's also a big number of successful entrepreneurs who didn't start their role before they turned 40. In our series "Entrepreneurship 40+", we want to introduce you to some of these incredible personalities.
In our second edition, we had the pleasure to talk to Régis Lauprete who is the president of Magnitude which he found in 2018.
I have 25 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Management and Top Management.
MAGNITUDE in 2-3 Sentences:
As an expert in sales support and sales force externalization, Magnitude develops and implements human and digital solutions to transpose brand commercial ambitions in-store, and to make live the brand consumer experience. We are specialized in the sports industry.
Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?
I started my career in a commercial position. First in transport, before realising that this sector was not for me. As ex top athlete, I have always been passionate about sports, so I did all I could to become part of a sports brand. After a short period at Nike, I joined adidas for 7 years. This is where my career, and with it my skills and knowledge of the industry, evolved and I learned to understand the functioning of the market. I started as a sector manager, before taking on the role of a field manager, followed by Key Account Manager, before ending my career at adidas with an international KA position where I took care of one of the biggest accounts for the brand, Décathlon.
For reasons of life choice, I left adidas to join Diesel, as Sales Director Footwear and Bags. I worked there for 2 years, before joining G-Star for 4 years as Country manager of Footwear for France, Spain and Portugal, to launch and develop this new branch for the brand. I worked a very short period at Ralph Lauren. That was my last experience working for brands which allowed me, at 41, to understand that after all these years in which it had been my dream, I had no longer the wish to pursue my career in this kind of organisation.
What was your motivation to found your own business?
To play an active role in my own life in a much more direct way! I was looking at some entrepreneurial friends developing their project, and despite the uncertainty or the round-the-clock occupation of their job, I envied their freedom and their capacity to create their own fortune. I felt ready at this point. I would not have been able to accomplish my own business 10 years ago. For me it was a revelation at almost 45.
How did you move from an idea to execution?
It took me exactly three things:
Externalisation of Sales Force has been in my area of expertise for years, so I had the knowledge and confidence to move forward with my idea.
After helping some friends creating a similar business, I got a clear idea of how it is done.
The moment I met my future partners provided the final push to get started.
How is your daily life as an entrepreneur?
It is never the same. It can be a day at the office or traveling. It always suits me because it is me who decides. I prefer that to an employment.
What’s the biggest reward(s) of having your own business?
The pleasure of building my team and working day to day with them in the atmosphere that I always dreamed of finding in my previous jobs! That's a dream that became reality.
What, in your opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur?
Personally, I knew that it would be easier and in consequence more successful for me to integrate into a project in which I could use my already existent experience and network. When you have only known salaried employment for years, becoming an entrepreneur is not a spontaneous decision, it cannot be improvised. Above all, you must be ready in your head. It's better to start your own business, because it's your desire, not because you want to run away from something like an unsatisfying job, but rather because you want to take on a more active role in your career. It is a state of mind. It cannot be controlled, it comes to you, and is reinforced through reflection on the project.
How do you think is it different to start an entrepreneurship over 40 than in your twenties?
At 40, if you perceive that if your professional evolution is not reaching the level of your expectation, it will be difficult to continue with the same ambition as before. While at your twenties you have so much time to grow in your role. Life aspirations are also very different in your 20s and your 40s.
For a lot of people, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway? Which impact did fear have on you?
I would not speak of fear. Being an entrepreneur is above all knowing how to trust yourself, knowing how to question yourself. I would rather speak of risk. The fear of failure paralyzes, while risk management can be very exciting. And failure is part of the entrepreneur’s experience, it strengthens them. So, my answer would be trust yourself. You are the only one who knows if you are ready for this adventure, and it is by listening to your inner voice that you will know if you are ready to go.
The sports sector is entrepreneurship to its core. As a quick evolving industry, it is marked by innovation and change, an ideal breeding ground for new business ideas.
Even though the sports sector is known as quite a young industry, with a lot of entrepreneurs being in their twenties, there's actually a significant number which is older than 40. To give you two well-known examples: Dietrich Mateschitz founded RedBull with 40. Bill Bowerman was 53 when he co-founded Blue Ribbon - which became Nike when he was 60.
While we associate young minds with freshness, innovation and braveness, all key factors for creating something new, middle-aged people tend to bring qualities that younger ones lack. Because experience counts. Entrepreneurs who have worked in the same field as their start-up were found to be 125% more successful than those without a background in their chosen sector. Not only do they have the skills and the network, they have the vision and experience on how to lead a company in the right direction, how to obviate classical pitfalls and how to make a tough decision when it is needed.
We feel that it's time to introduce you to more entrepreneurs 40+ in the sports industry which is why we started an interview series with different business founders on their career and their views on entrepreneurship.
In part one, we would like you to meet Alban Le Pellec.
I have 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales, Management and Top Management.
Your Business (Idea) in 2-3 Sentences:
All-Seasons offers expertise in Consulting, Distribution and Services for sport brands willing to develop their European business. We’ve got internal and external experts to establish and expand your brand awareness and sales.
Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?
I started my career in sports marketing before changing to Sales. Then I took my first step in the outdoor industry where I gained a lot of experience thanks to eight years at Millet, and after that evolved in the American group, Wolverine Worldwide and its sports division represented by Saucony and Merrell. For more than 9 years, I held several positions as Key Account Manager, Sales Manager France, Country Manager, and at the end, European Strategic Director.
During the last period, I served as President of the Outdoor Commission of L’Union Sports et Cycles, the French Sport Industry representation.
When I got the opportunity to work as CEO for an eye-wear company, I made the transition from sports to fashion. A position I held for two years. During this time, the desire to return to the sports and outdoor world got so overwhelming that I took part as a Mentor in the world’s first innovation hub Le Tremplin (Paris&Co). Then very spontaneously, in January 2020, I decided to set up All-Seasons.
What was your motivation to start your own business?
All-Seasons was born out of a need to support sports brands which have the wish to develop in the French and European sports market in a very pragmatic way. Concretely, All-Seasons takes its roots in years of exchange with Mick Midali, my partner in this adventure. There were needs and missing solutions in the market and we have decided to respond by combining our skills.
With cash being the key, it is important to combine the strategic vision with a rapid but sustainable implementation. And it is on these axes that we position ourselves. Nowadays companies must operate with agility and All-Seasons is there to help them succeed. We are guiding companies in their development of Sales, mostly in France and Europe, but also in North America thanks to our partnerships with Global Sales Guys. At the same time, we guarantee to respect and maintain its brand values while aiming for a higher profitability.
How do you move from an idea to a successful business?
With more than 20 years in the sports industry in different job positions, I know this market quite well, so the idea was evolving for years. To move from this idea to the launch of an actual business, that’s a question of developing a concrete business plan which helps transforming the idea to reality.
Now it’s up to us to convert this into success, even though the recent crisis [Covid-19] might jeopardise our agency's growth. But we think that the economical change happening due to Covid-19 can also be an advantage for us, showing brands that they have to rethink their current business model, their structure, their offers. And our expertise can help on this new journey.
What, in your opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur?
I don’t think I can explain what makes a successful entrepreneur, because I am only at the beginning of my story. But in my humble opinion, I am sure that expertise helps a lot. Commitment. Vision. Also, a clear positioning. Those are key elements.
How do you think is it different to start an entrepreneurship 40+ than in your twenties?
It’s clearly a different situation. At 20, your start-up is based mostly on ideas. And you can start it carefree, because normally, there's no real financial risk.
At 40, with a family to take care of, you take bigger risks, but you have one strong advantage which is experience. And the success percentage is often higher for experienced people which researchs confirm.
For a lot of people, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway? Which impact did fear have on you?
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that emerges when you are worried or threatened by something dangerous. That’s why when you start your project, a solid business plan is mandatory. If your plan is well prepared and financial forecast not too optimistic, more realistic, you know where you’re going. The danger becomes smaller and fear vanishes.
However, the fear is always present, it’s a motivation for an entrepreneur. You convert it into motivation.
For sure, you feel it stronger some days, and it’s not pleasant, but it magnifies your happiness once you succeed. Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.
How is your daily life as an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur doesn’t really have regular office hours. There is so many things to fix, so many projects to follow, so many issues to resolve. We think, we live, we dream with our business in mind all the time. Our days are all different, so organisation is important and finding the time to step back to take in the overall situation is essential. An entrepreneur has to switch from one topic to a totally different one all the time.
Personally my office is at home, so I’ve dedicated a room to work away from my kids, and spend hours on visio-conferences. The days I am not sitting in front of my laptop at home, I am traveling to visit my teams, partners, fairs or retailers.
What’s the biggest reward(s) of having your own business?
The reward, the recognition, is something personal. Each person has different goals in their life. For an entrepreneur every single success of the company feels like your own. It’s the advantage of this position.
For myself, I set up my agency to have the liberty to choose the brands I want to work with, I want to share the same values with my partners, and have more freedom in my day to day job. My biggest reward would be to work with great sustainable brands and make them successful. It would also help a bit to protect our planet.
"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." - Henry Ford
Do you know what makes successful people? To never stop learning. Always be curious about the world, new fields, and ways to improve your skills. To get you even more motivated: Keeping your brain working will keep it healthy, preventing a bad memory or even Dementia.
So, how can we gain new skills? For some of us, we are lucky enough to have an employer who is interested in developing talents. It’s companies who are willing to spend on further education of their employees, for them to make a better job and bring in new ideas. But the reality is, that most people need to care for their own education. Not all of us have the time to enroll in university for some extra lectures or pay for further education on our own. Luckily, web 2.0, the interactive web, offers great chances for online courses and tutorials to learn new skills all by ourselves! Of course, it’s not only limited to hard skills, you could even learn about fields you were always interested in. Art, History, Biology, Psychology, there's no limit on knowledge.
Here are 5 platforms to get your brain working - completely for free:
Udacity’s platform is directly related to gaining skills for your dream job. With courses about programming, web design, or data science, they offer nano degrees which are accepted as official references. Instead of lecturing, they believe in practical learning. Together with companies like Google, Salesforce, and Facebook, they develop interactive courses for beginners, advanced levels, and professionals. However, not all courses are free, so you have to filter in advance.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, short MIT, is known as one of the high-class universities of the world. Mostly, it’s known for engineering and physical sciences, but their graduate programs offer a wide range of courses. In their OpenCourseWare, MIT made their content from different courses available for everyone, sharing it online for free.
In the course overview, you can filter by topics and departments, for example, Business, Fine Arts, Engineering, etc., getting the possibility to access the course online or download the materials. Furthermore, most of them contain video and audio lectures as well as assignments. So you have to do your homework! To be honest, it’s hard to follow an online lecture without having the possibility to ask for more details, so we’d recommend it mostly for humanities, psychology, and fine arts.
Here are 3 courses we love:
(not all of them might be important for your work but could interest you on a personal level as well. Just learn, the benefits are yours!):
Introduction to Photography:A course on practical instruction in black and white photography, digital and analog, camera operation, etc. Also, it's a critical view on the effect of photos in our culture.
Not only did the MIT provide their own content, but they also collaborated with Harvard to found edX in 2012. The portal offers courses from universities around the world, so you can enroll in courses from home and in your own time. Most of them are for free, and for a little charge, you can even get a certificate if you need it for your job or a future application. It’s open-source and non-profit. The courses come together from all fields of study, like architecture, law, communication, business, etc. So feel free to feed all your interest!
Get Beyond Work-Life Balance: „Do you ever struggle to manage work and the rest of your life? You are not alone. Men and women all over the world are trying to figure out the impossible work-life “balance” and instead achieve success in all parts of their lives“
"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." - Kofi Annan
The Digital Garage
A platform by Google about Online Marketing? That’s got to be a guarantee for digital skills! And it is. The digital garage’s online courses guide you through the function of search engines, social media, analytics, and more. It’s a great way to spice up your CV and score a career entry in Online Marketing.
We recommend taking all courses, one after another, to get into the field of Online Marketing.
Iversity is a special online platform that focuses on higher education for professional purposes. Their courses are provided by business experts who formed courses in their professional's fields for you to learn. Like most platforms, it offers free courses as well as paid ones. For the free ones, filter for „MOOCs“ in the course catalog.
Social Innovation: „Social Innovations change the rules by which people live together. Learn what social innovations are and how they can be developed. Because the way we live, work and do business could actually be quite different!“
Prepare to become a future leader in the sports industry. Taking in the specific recruitment needs and dynamics of the sports business, emlyon business school has crafted a Master program by combining their expertise in international management with the market experience of some of the world leading sports companies.
The MSc in Sports Industry Management in Paris & Shanghai helps young talents develop a fine-tuned comprehension of the international sports business, aspiring to shape future leaders with expertise knowledge and an understanding of the sports economic culture.
Be part of a business school with a sports business orientated outlook
Schools that want to provide the kind of graduates to fulfil these requirements need to ask themselves: What does a company look for and which skills does an employee need to bring to further develop the industry?
The best way to figure out the answer is working closely with the industry. The program of the Msc in Sports Industry Management of emlyon business school is grounded on a close collaboration with companies like adidas, Eider, Millet, Patagonia, Petzl, Salomon, The North Face, Wilson and co. Thus providing a well-organized program to prepare their students for a career in the sports business.
This way, students get the chance to get to know key representatives of the sports world through conferences and expert panels, but also already contribute to and learn directly from the industry through business cases and group projects.
Great job outlooks after graduation
Graduates often face the problem of not finding a position in their specialised field due to missing work experience or network. Thanks to its closeness to the business, as well as providing practical experience through projects and internship possibilities, that’s a reduced risk when studying at emlyon. According to a survey in 2017, 95% of emlyon’s alumni have started a job in sports less than 6 months after the end of the program.
Specificially, graduates of the MSc in Sports Industry Management have found jobs in
business & development,
global management projects
supplies & logistics
and others in companies including Decathlon, KPMG, Puma, Nike, Amer Sport, Vente-privée.com, Oxylane, Hi-Tech Sports, Reusch International, Olympique Lyonnais football club and Salomon.
The school’s been recognised as one number 3 of the best business schools in France in 2019 by eduniversal. With three of the main criteria being the starting salaries after graduation, the program’s reputation among companies, and the level of satisfaction expressed by students, the ranking can be seen as a representation of recruiters. Furthermore, it has ranked 34th in the Times Higher Education’s global university employability ranking.
The high quality of teaching due to practical insights, an international approach and its proximity to the sports industry define the main reason to strive for a degree at emlyon business school.
The MSc contains an advanced management education where students learn about international sports business & culture, social responsibility, marketing, accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship and management strategies.
Correspondingly, the program is designed to give students a skillset to understand the dynamics, benefits and challenges of management in the international sports business and develop outstanding knowledge to further shape the industry in the future.
An exchange semester in Shanghai and fieldtrips to the UK, French Alps and Germany guarantee a first-hand experience of other countries’ economies, resulting in an international understanding and knowledge of the business.
The third round of applications for the program is open until the 30th of March. Applications run from November to August 2020.
The requirements are:
Bachelor or Master Degree in any field
GMAT/GRE/TAGE MAGE/CAT Test Scores (optional)
English Proficiency Test Score (for non native English speakers)
The selection of candidates happens in an overarching valuation, taking the entire potential, background and motivation of a candidate into account.
Finding their way into everyday pop culture and innovative business models, esports has been facing an explosive growth from a small niche to a full grown industry with a $1.1B revenue in 2019 ¹. With "gaming" being recognized as professional sports and competitive industry, the need for graduates and professionals with fundamental knowledge of esports is evolving as well.
While there have been several programmes in the US for years, esports is finally also an upcoming matter for european schools, with Bachelor and Master degrees popping up in 2019 and 2020 in Germany, France, UK and Finland.
If this is a career path interesting for you, here's 9 schools where you can study esports.
Medienmanagement at HS Mittweida
Field of Study: Media Management
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Mittweida, Saxony, Germany
Duration: 3 years (6 semester)
The HS Mittweida is the first (and at the moment only) state school in Germany offering a possibility to study esports - not as a main course though. In Mittweida, students studying media management can deepen their studies at esports and game marketing from the third semester on.
In four semester, students learn the whole process of creating esports business models, with a main focus of the development process and marketing of games and events.
Officially, the first school to offer an esports diploma in Germany, HAM created a esports business degree with practical orientation. The focal points of the program are:
esports event management
management of esports teams
digital innovation of gaming industry
The degree program is offered semi virtual, so it's split between online and on-site courses. That's a big advantage for the flexibility: Next to studying full time, HAM also offers the possibility to study in part time or as a dual study.
esports & Game Management at Macromedia Fachhochschule
Field of Study: Media and Communication Management
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Munich | Cologne | Hamburg
Duration: 3,5 years (7 semester) incl. exchange semester
The degree course at Macromedia might be the most extensive one in regard of esports business principles in Germany. It targets students who would like to achieve a management position in esports, whether it's for leading game development, athletes or events.
The six main contents are:
empiric research & statistics
principles in sports communication & sports sciences
The private education system in the UK is probably the perfect playground for students interested in digital & esports relative subjects. Financing themselves with higher tuition fees, the schools have the opportunity to provide high-end equipment which brings their courses to a next level in hindsight of practical insights into (gaming) soft- and hardware. If you can afford about 13.000£ for your diploma, we recommend taking a closer look at the following schools.
esports BA (Hons) at Staffordshire University
Field of Study: Business Management
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Stoke-on-Trent | London
Duration: 3 years
With subjects like Games Arts, Cultures and Design and a digital institute in London, the Staffordshire University has established itself as a "Games university" in the UK. Expanding their offer with a BA in esports was just the next logical step.
True to a hands-on approach, students will learn about the esports business in practical projects from hosting single & team player events and athlete management to a full marketing experience of broadcasting, video editing, content creation and analytics. For this, Staffordshire university is equipped with pro gamer training facilities, an esports arena, a control room with high-tech computers for editing, mixing and co.
Field of Study: Business Management / Media Sciences
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Chichester, West Sussex
Duration: 3 years
Summing it up in one sentence, the esports degree at Sheffield Hallam University teaches fundamental business and media skills for the esports industry for running events, managing teams and reporting on competitions.
The necessary skills and knowledge are transmitted via a mix of lectures, seminars, exercises and practical activities in their radio room, TV room and newsroom.
As a final project at the end of the programme students will work together with clients from the esports industry to host a live event.
esports BA (Hons) - Event Management at Sheffield Hallam University
Field of Study: Event Management & Media Training
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Duration: 3 - 4 years
Unlike other business management programmes, Chichester University has a more scientific approach in teaching about esports. While still taking a look at event production, promotion, sponsorship, game play and co, the courses are also built around sports science, psychology and ethics - transferable skills for other postgraduate studies or jobs in various industries.
However, the practical side is not being neglected either with skills development sessions for gamers, staging competitions and work placements.
Specialising your studies on esports in France is only possible when attending a private school. Interesting enough, most, if not all of them, are a result of the partnership of the IONIS Group with XP, the international esport & gaming school.
XP, the international esport & gaming school
Field of Study: Business Management
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Where: Paris | Lille | Lyon | Bordeaux | Marseille | Rennes | Strasbourg
Duration: 3 years
The XP courses focuses deeply on event management & marketing. By starting with teaching the fundamentals of the esports industry, the students will quickly gain the insights to deepen their knowledge in practical projects. The main pillars of the XP program are:
Master the fundamentals
Consolidate knowledge to put it into practice
Master the skills and develop your own projects
After graduation, careers await in creating events and tournaments, digital marketing and community management.
Where: Paris | Bordeaux | Lille | Lyon | Montpellier | Nantes | Nice
Duration: 3 years
A classic subject of communication & business management with a focus on the esports industry. The programme is a mix of communication, marketing and event management with basics in psychology, social sciences and accounting. Thus, the diploma at ISEFAC prepares you for jobs in the gaming sector in management, communication and event organisation.
esports Business at KAMK University of Applied Sciences
Field of Study: Business Management
Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration
Where: Kajaani, Finland
Duration: 3,5 years
This course aims at giving an all-round insight into the operations of esports as a business. The focus of this degree lies on management and leadership, as well as event management and international operation.
A nice plus for Gamers is the university's aim of keeping their hobbies alive during their studies. For this purpose, Kajaani provides high-performance gaming computers at the campus to use by students outside of lesson times.
There’s three things about working in retail that you can learn from David Brown:
Managing a retail team only works when you see yourself as one of them
The right attitude is more important than experience
Purpose in your career can influence your whole life
As General Manager of Timberland’s new Purpose-Led Flagship Store in Carnaby Street, London, David Brown is responsible for 241 square meter retail space and managing a team of 24 to ensure the smooth operation of the daily business. To maintain this, his management and interpersonal skills need to be over-the-top - and here’s why: A flagship store is the leading store of a brand. Even though the typical KPIs like sales or turnover do matter, the main focus of the flagship store is on drawing attention and visitors. Thus, transforming it into a showcase with an extraordinary shopping experience.
On one hand, this is achieved through a special interior design and a wide range of products. On the other hand though, the realization happens thanks to a high-quality team which also act as ambassadors for their brand.
The store and its employees are so to speak a prototype of retail, making David an experienced and valuable interview partner to get an insight into the career of a Shop Manager.
In this interview, we talked with David about his work at Timberland’s new Purpose-Led Flagship Store, his managing skills and - important enough - purpose.
Dear Readers, please meet David Brown.
So, David, you’re managing quite a big team.
I’ve got a team of approximately 24 at the moment. 4 of those are managers as well, so making sure that the delegation is handed out to the right managers in order to keep a smooth running operation of the store. Everyone is working on specific job roles that are required to complete a regular working day.
And what makes your team stand out? How would you describe it?
It’s very important for it to be family-orientated, because if you’re spending up to 40 hours work with certain individuals. You’re probably spending more time with them than you’re at home. The family atmosphere is very important, because I am a great believer in leading by examples. Whatever I do, I would expect my team to be up to the same thing. So family atmosphere is important.
Talking about leading by example - which example do you give?
I love to give the most basic. We all use the toilet. We clean the toilet. I will mob the floors, so it’s never going to be something that I expect my team to shy away from. Because I am part of the team. So that is my number one example, it keeps a clear message that I am prepared to do anything that I would also ask them to do as well.
That is quite important and they probably appreciate it a lot.
I think it’s important because gone are the days where managing staff exempts you from doing the same work as the team. I am very much a team player and that is how we get positives on the day. And ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Does it create a community?
Well, right now we have a big community in the store. We go out and work alongside charity shops, getting involved with any events that are happening in the local community. My role then tends to bring that community spirit within the store. If you lead by example, the team pretty much follow suit with that.
It’s also something Timberland represents, the community spirit that the brand lives in their sustainability projects.
We live and breath that. Last night I was in my local area where we are re-greening the area. The turnouts of 500 volunteers turned up yesterday. And they finished it up with a live gig from which again brought a lot of the community together, so we can reflect that with the store as well.
Jumping back to 2015: What was the motivation back then to apply for the role as Shop Manager at Timberland?
I felt that I needed a change. I have been with my previous employer of work for 15 years. I needed to take on a challenge, and knowing certain individuals that were happy in a - we call it a big peoples-company - it’s.. you’re not serving kids, you’re serving professionals, you’re serving individuals from multiple components of life. And that really interested me. My aim was to go to a company where customer service was customer service. Being a manager you had the autonomy to do things in the store and be able to see the benefits from the work. And that’s what Timberland really stood out for for me. Also, being part of VF Group. Understanding how big the corporation was... we could literally do anything.
So did you find the challenge and the purpose in your job at Timberland?
Timberland has really opened my eyes in terms of purpose and how we bring it directly to the stores where we are selling on a day to day basis. And how we connect purpose to the customer.
Purpose has allowed me to switch from driving a Diesel Car to an electric car. My emissions is zero. And I’ve looked at my household where we have caused a minimum at emissions. We recycle. Food, waste, cardboard, plastic. So that’s some of the things that really have been influenced by working for Timberland.
Just to make a quick excursion, I had an interview with Alicia Pinckney, Designer @Timberland, and she actually said something similar: That she found a purpose in her job and a change in her lifestyle when she started working for Timberland. Which I personally think is amazing as it is something a lot of people aim for.
It’s definitely been life-changing because you’re comfortable, because you can see what the company’s philosophy stands for, where they want to take it. If I give an example, theres not one down-feathered jacket in my store and we have some fairly big jackets. It’s all recyclable materials. So in-sync with what I do at home, what I do when I’m coming to work, what I do at work, for me, it’s like a cycle, for me being as green as I possibly can and Timberland has definitely kickstarted that.
And do you think you influence Timberland in return as well?
Definitely. I am in a unique position being in a flagship store. You’re able to talk to various levels in the business. They definitely listen, because it’s important. And if you feel that you been listened to, it also inspires you to do more things and to feel good by it.
Looking back on your own experience, if you had to give advice on how to achieve a career at a Flagship Store, maybe even as a Shop Manager, especially for Retail or Sales experienced candidates who would like to reach the next level. What would you say which qualities are absolutely essential for your job?
I think you need to be very open-minded. You need to come to a company like Timberland knowing that the level expectation that is needed has to be grown from within. You’ve got to be prepared to make changes, be prepared to evaluate what you’ve learned previously and how you can have the right attitudes which is what’s going to be needed. And once you have that, you’ve got the foundation.
Do you think a Shop Manager should always have been working in retail before?
No. I certainly don’t. That’s qualities that you can also bring even without the retail experience. And still can make a big difference in the store. I think gone are the days where one has to have 100% retail experience. It’s the right attitude and what they can bring to the team or to the store. You’ve got to be open.
Editor's Note: Timberland is part of VF, the the global company behind around 30 of the world’s leading sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands. Timberland ®’s dedication to make quality products is bringing outdoor adventures within your city lifestyle. A global leader in premium-quality footwear, apparel and accessories that is equally committed to environmental and social responsibility
On two dates next week, VF Corporation gives students the option to participate in 5 webinars with business professionals from various departments of their different brands. Enabling a sneak-peek in what its like to work at VF.
„Students have the great opportunity to actually get to know different functions in very short and straight to the point webinars of half an hour each. If they are looking for some guidance on what field to focus on it is a great “orientation” opportunity as they can do one webinars or all of them! If they are already focusing on one function/career (ie. sales or digital) they can interact with a VF business leader!“
If the sports and lifestyle industry does interest you, this is a great chance to find out more about the work behind the scenes of various roles in an international successful company. VF Corporation is a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories (to give you some facts: with 50,000 associates and $11.2 billion in revenue) and the company behind iconic lifestyle & outdoor brands, like The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Napapijri, Eastpak and many more.
While VF is highly diversified across brands, products, distribution channels and geographies, their One VF culture and approach to doing business provides a unique and powerful competitive advantage.
For a student or recent graduate this means they can start a career in a company that can allow them to move across different brands, functions and countries; this really enhances their learning opportunities! Finally, and most importantly, we are teams of inclusive and friendly people; who are ambitious and eager to keep learning.
On the 3rd and 5th of December, you can join VF in their webinars online. Especially for students and graduates who consider a career at VF or one of its brands, it allows a first contact with the work and people behind VF - similar to a digital open-door-event.
Below we noted the schedule of both days including the times in CET (=UTC+1) for each speaker.
13.00-13.30 CET: Digital, with Andreas Olsson, Group Digital Accounts Director
13.45-14.15 CET: Finance, with Elena Frattini, Business Analysis Manager Napapijri
14.30-15.00 CET: Supply Chain & Operations, with Martijn Van Paradijs, Senior Manager Operations Vans
If there’s a webinar that catches your interest, you can easily register for it online. Under this link, you’ll find a registration form where you fill in your details and choose the webinars you’d like to participate in. The VF event team will then send you an e-mail with an invitation to join.
You might ask yourself: How exactly does a sketch from a Designer turn into a real product? As we just have a very general answer to this question ourselves, we passed it on to an expert in this field. Hermin Uzer, Head of Product Development of Napapijri since 2011, translates design ideas and transforms them into three-dimensional products on a daily base, through all of the stages involved in developing outdoor apparel from concept to final product.
We were lucky to have her give us passionate insights into her work at Napapijri, shed some light on what exactly product development is (and what it is not) and after all, how it brings the brand to life.
Sportyjob: Let's jump right in. I have to admit I always found it difficult to really explain what Product Development actually is. Maybe you can help me and the readers get a better understanding of it. What exactly is it that you do at Napapijri?
Hermin Uzer: In a nutshell, product development is making the garments three-dimensional. You know, we make the garments real. There’s a lot that needs to be done, so where we start is basically when we get the briefing and the target from our merchandising team where they note the retail prices, the line architecture, what kind of innovations or carry-over-styles we need to consider. What the general direction is. It’s the same briefing that the designers get. Based on that, we deliberate who the right vendor would be. And after that, we would get the initial sketches and ideation from the designers and we would work with the raw materials team to arrange all the components that are needed to make the product real.
SJ: So it’s basically the entire journey from the product. And if you would break it down how your department develops new products from scratch to market, how would you describe it?
We would start with the sketch from the designers and create a technical description for it. We then send the technical sketches to the vendor. So, we make detail sheets, we scan sketches for construction and design features that we have to specify. This might be a very specific sleeve-construction, a specific fit or functionality that we need to take into consideration. It's really about every single detail. The color, the applications, prints, specific stitches. Maybe other features or handcrafts. Completely sketch out every single thing and component so that it's absolutely clear what the vendor needs to produce.
SJ: And after that?
HU: For the second step, we actually visit the vendor and together with them look at how the construction came out. Is it nice? Are there limitations? Do we have to make some adjustments? And directly in the factory, we work together with those vendors, making sure that the design is something that we can realize in the garment.
SJ: What's the biggest challenge about it?
HU: Our most intensive work is maintaining the design integrity within the possibilities that exist. So, coming back to what I said back earlier, the target that the merchandiser's define is a very important factor in product development, but keeping the design integrity is even more important. Because that, you know, that gives the wa-woomm and the life and the DNA to the brand!
The target that the merchandiser's define is a very important factor in product development, but keeping the design integrity is even more important. Because that, you know, that gives the wa-woom and the life and the DNA to the brand!
HU: Anyway, that’s usually the part where we spend 80% work time on, going back and forth to the vendors, working on the washes, applications, the sizing, the construction, the workmanship, the pricing, the fabrics and everything. It’s a lot. It’s basically everything. That’s why I said in a nutshell it’s making a design three dimensional. It’s not just going to the vendor and a sample comes out. It’s really working in translating the inspiration from the designer, but maintaining the KPI from the merchandiser in order for them to place it on the market. After that, we would get a first product, we would have a review meeting with both merchandisers and the designers to get their feedback on the execution, on the color, on the intensity, on the price, etc. And usually, we construct a garment further until we get to a second prototype. And so on until the final product comes out.
SJ: A very extensive process.
HU: We also have to take into consideration the testing part on quality: this requires testing of the fabric and the components, but also full testing of the garment - do all features and benefits work in construction, such as seam-taping, or wash details, colour migration? Does the fabric work in combination with the excecution – pilling, snagging, and so on. To make sure we deliver an up to standard product to the consumer, we have to look at each and every aspect while developing.
SJ: It seems like Product Development and the Design process are very entwined. You studied Design yourself at the AMFI. Does it come in handy for your position?
HU: I would say yes and no. It’s very difficult. I mean I started out as a Designer indeed. However, at the time that I started, Design, Development, Coloring, being responsible for graphics and production, was all-in-one. In that period of time, you know, as a Designer, we were obliged to go to the factories and take care of the realisation ourselves. And I clearly remember the moment it had changed when some bigger corporations came to Holland - that is in my case, as I work in Amsterdam - there was a moment when I had a talk with a large international company and they asked me „Ok, you have to make a choice. It’s either design or either development.“ And I was like „What do you mean? Design and Development is one and the same." But in this company, Designer's were in charge of setting up and designing the collection, but the developers were responsible for the realization of the product. That’s when I decided, I'd rather go into the product development side, because realization for me is more important. Because you can have a beautiful sketch, but then the outcome might not be like you imagined. So I wanted to be as close as possible to the design. However, when I look at some of people that I worked with in the past who have been in my team of developers, you know, most of them they are younger and they didn’t have any design experience, but they’re extremely good developers. I think if you have a combination of understanding creativity, even though it’s not your own design, and understanding the DNA of the company and the creativity of the Designer, being able to translate it into a construction so that you don’t change the styles too much - that’s the most important asset you can have as a developer.
If you have a combination of understanding creativity, even though it’s not your own design, and understanding the DNA of the company and the creativity of the Designer, being able to translate it into a construction so that you don’t change the styles too much - that’s the most important asset you can have as a developer.
SJ: That's incredible! I need to admit that I’ve actually never really distinguished between Design and Product Develoment.
HU: Honestly, I think you shouldn’t. Over the last 25 years, it’s how the development went. I am happy to see that nowadays, especially with the upcoming of digital design, the new master studies at fashion schools turn their focus on creating styles digitally. I see the fusion of Design and Development come back more and more. Because those students are obliged to really understand construction, pattern making, fabrics, applications and everything, whereas there was a time when design was only focused on creativity. Realization was important, but not in depth. I see that coming back in the newer generations.
SJ: Yeah sure, it is really important that the Designer's have an understanding of the overall process.
Yes! It is! In my opinion, designers and developers do have different strengths, but they should actually know exactly the same. It’s like your left and right arm. And without one the other would not function.
SJ: Let's finish with a personal insight. What is your favorite part of being a product developer?
HU: It’s being in touch with the product. Even though it’s something that I don’t design, it is designed in my brand, so it’s also something from me. Just having the challenge to realize that design and enable the adaption from all sides, from quality, execution, targets and design integrity. That’s - it’s always nice! It becomes your little baby. You’re responsible from Step B onwards - but even without Step A, it’s your little baby.
Editor's Note: Napapijiri is part of VF, the the global company behind around 30 of the world’s leading sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands. With a finnish name, the norwegian flag as a logo and found in Italy, Napapijri represents a global mindset through the intersection of boundaries, culture, nature and art. The brand portfolio includes Menswear, Womenswear and Childrenswear.
While modern companies implemented remote work - even just for a day per week - even years ago, the location-unbound working model is now becoming a big part of the every day work culture in the sports industry.
One company in the sports business showing exactly how it is done is komoot. While located in Potsdam, the team is actually working from all over the world - remotely.
This way, they’re actually developing a full functioning and effective team which takes responsibility and therefore, really pushes the company to the next level while being more satisfied in their job.
How so? That’s what we discovered in this blog. Find out what advantages working remotely brings and what it needs to make it work.
The advantages of working remotely
While most companies which offer remote work as a benefit do expect you to be available for a specific time frame matching the office hours, there’s still plenty which allow a flexible time schedule. Taking time off for necessary appointments and continuing work afterwards, starting earlier to have more time in the afternoon, or whichever model it is you prefer - you’ll be able to use your time more effectively and actually, coordinate your job around your life and not the other way round. A very exciting experience.
And even if you need to work fixed hours, after all it allows you to spend more time outside of work. Taking into consideration the time employees are saving by not having to commute to work and back home, as well as the option to actually use your break for something else than having lunch in the canteen, it seems to enable a better use of time.
A focus on productivity instead of time
What happens when your daily task are done and your project is on hold? Well, let’s face it: A lot of office time is spent with browsing the web, socializing, figuring out where to go for holidays, you get the point. The reason is simply that we have to be there until a specific time when our shift ends, no matter the work load. While being idle in between tasks can push motivation, it can also be wasted time that you could put to much better use.
That’s where remote work comes in handy. The advantage of working at home is that
you can actually concentrate on your work without having colleagues from your office interrupting
when your work is done, you can actually do something else because
your boss can hardly stumble into the office noticing you’re procrastinating
We’re not implying that you should skip on your work for a layday at home and fool your team or boss. But if you’re doing your job quickly and still maintain good quality, there’s nothing wrong about using remaining working hours for other activities - as long as you’re available when needed. This leads to more productive and effective work - so both sides, employee and employer, benefit from it.
Creativity & innovation
In general, working from home might give you the needed distance from your work and team to be creative or innovative. Especially, when having the option to „work from wherever you want, be it a beach, the mountains, your house or anywhere else“ as komoot puts it in their job ad, the remote work gives you the freedom to explore new places, new cultures or even just the neighborhood in your daily life, to gain new experiences and impressions. Which - as we know - is fueling creativity.
Shifting to the employer’s point of view who does benefit from all mentioned points, they have furthermore the advantage of actually being able to save money. With more people working remotely, there’s less working space needed, which cuts the cost for rent, interior and maintainance.
Happiness and passion
Taking all these things into account, it’s no surprise that surveys say that remote employees are all in all happier than regular office staff. It benefits their health, mental and physical, as well as giving them much needed freedom to fulfill dreams and goals.
Disadvantages and how to avoid them
With our own Sportyjob team working remotely from everywhere between Germany to France and even to the Canary Islands, we know exactly that not working together takes a lot of effort to actually create a functioning team. While benefits for employees and employers are obvious, there are still disadvantages luring around the corner. Talking about miscommunication, feeling disconnected, projects lying dormant, unhappy team members - you name it.
But, like mentioned above, those issues can be easily handled with some effort and measurements that the whole team needs to take.
When being in the same office or building, it’s easy just to give a short update in between. But even in regular working environments, there’s a need for individual weekly jour-fixes and team meetings to keep the team updated. Even with some distance between the team, it’s absolutely necessary to maintain this. Giving updates on what you’re working on, project status, etc., even some personal information every now and then (planned holidays, how everyone is doing, etc.).
The most important part though is remembering that there’s is no digital, but actually a human team existing. For this, video calls are the easiest way to continuing talking face to face over any distance. With plenty of tools which allow split screens and group calls, there’s no problem to keep up with the communication.
komoot even took it a step further: 4 times a year, the whole team meets up at one destination around the world for one week, to work together, socialize, get to know each other in case there are new team members aboard. A perfect way of combining a team building measurement with an activity which resembles perfectly to company spirit and mission.
A very big factor. Remote jobs only work when both sides trust each other. If there’s colleagues or your employer mistrusting your work ethics, this is not going to work out. There might always be someone who thinks that remote workers only relax, play games or chat or watch tv instead of working, but in our experience, this is far away from the truth. Whether you prefer working regular office hours or like to use your mornings for sports or other activities and therefore, work late - that’s fine. It should be accepted and most of all, trusted, by your team that you still keep up with your work.
Also, on the other side of the medal, trust in being seen. Don’t worry about being available all day long in case your boss actually sends an e-mail when you have just finished your day. There’s the possibility that you might feel the urge to always check your e-mails, always be online, so no one gets the idea of you being lazy. There’s absolutely no need to. Trust is needed on both sides. So is free time to stay productive and passionate about your job.
Passionate, creative and a very contagious smile: That's Alicia Pinckney. The Men's Apparel Designer of Timberland heritage talked to us about her career, what inspires her and the possibilities for sustainable solutions of sports fashion design.
Sportyjob: I've seen you had your 2 years anniversary these days. Congratulations!
Alicia Pinckney: [laughs] Thank you!
SJ: So, how have your last two years at Timberland been?
AP: I feel like these last two years have gone by so quickly! I've joined the team together with a bunch of new people, so in a sense, we kind of build the brand up again with a completely new team. With that in mind, there has been a lot of evolution, a lot of structure changes, just a lot of things happening in these last two years. So I think that’s what made it go by really fast! I’ve just been keeping up with everything that has been going on. I like fast pace and that’s what Timberland has been. It’s always been open for change and constantly evolving to something new. So it has been a very interesting time in my two years here, meeting different people, traveling to different places around the world.
SJ: Is it something that sparks your creativity, going so fast pace?
AP: I definitely think it is! Because for me, if I feel like I am stagnated or anything isn’t happening, my creativity can lie dormant. But if you have something that is stimulating you, like going to new places, being exposed to new cultures, that keeps the creativity and juices flowing. Whenever we design for a new season, we are always traveling - I can say that it definitely helps with the creativity.
If I feel like I am stagnated or anything isn’t happening, my creativity can lie dormant. But if you have something that is stimulating you, like going to new places, being exposed to new cultures, that keeps the creativity and juices flowing
SJ: Let's go back two years. Do you remember your first product that came to store?
AP: Yeah, actually! When I first joined the team in July 2017, I immediately started working on a collaboration project with Christopher Raeburn. Then, around June 2018, it was presented at the London Fashion Week. It was our first time having a Timberland product on a runway during fashion week. So that was something! I was like: "Wow, I just started and I already see my stuff!". Normally, when you start at a company, it takes a while to actually see your designs in action, because of the timelines we are working on. Another few months later I saw it in our Flagship Store in London in Regent Street, which was very cool and very exciting! And when I went back home to America, I went into the New York store and I saw that we had a popup store based on showing this product, because this project was so significant for sustainability. You see, Christopher Raeburn is all about reuse, reduce, recycle and circular design. And our product was basically that. We made sure that all of our cotton that we used was organic, any part that is possible can be recycled. It was basically like a very closed circular collection. The intent was reducing waste and making use of waste, everything we used from very sustainable resources.
SJ: Talking about sustainability. Timberland has been doing a lot to reduce the carbon foot print of the fashion industry. One of their goals is to reuse 100% recycled materials until 2020. What is your role in reaching these goals?
AP: We’ve been training a lot on circular design. I am not sure if you’re familiar with that. You look at design in general, normally it’s very linear, we pick up a resource, we use it and then it’s wasted. And no one does anything with the waste. But the concept of circular design does. You start with the resources, make fabric from it which - after the consumer uses it - can be remade into something else and can go back to the beginning loop of the resources. It can be regenerated for something else. So, we should eliminate our carbon foot print, not have so much waste. A lot of our decision making also depends on: ok it can be repaired, so the customer doesn’t have to throw it away. Which is a big factor. Or we also can choose things that are already recycled, for example, companies using recycled nets from the ocean. It’s about doing the research, to take waste and making something out of it. So it’s a lot of thinking what we’re doing and honestly, out of all the big companies that I’ve worked for, Timberland is the most aware in the details to help reduce our carbon footprint.
SJ: How does sustainability influence your designs?
AP: I feel that it influences my way of designing in the way that when people think of me as a designer or like when you think of the idea of any designer, you automatically think of fashion, trends, that’s it. But for me, I think, having this whole topic of sustainability in the forefront of my mind, I am not just chasing after fashion. I am chasing after what makes a change for the world. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but if you only stay relevant with what’s happening in trends, honestly, a lot of trends aren’t that great for the environment. So, it really changes my way of designing, because I am not really trend and fashion focused, I am more purpose and function focused.
I am not just chasing after fashion. I am chasing after what makes a change for the world
SJ: So, you don’t only have an impact on Timberland's design, but it also has one on you!
AP: Yeah, I can definitely agree with that. It feels like it gives you a sense of purpose. Because I feel that when you’re designing with not having anything in mind other than creating a garment that someone looks nice in, you kind of feel - I don’t know about anyone else, but for me - I kind of feel empty. Because this is what I am contributing to the world, that is my purpose. When you look at the DNA of Timberland and the fact that we’re trying to do good for the world, while we also do this creative part of designing, you can feel a bit a balance of your fulfillment. Because you’re doing creative stuff, but you’re also doing something that is going to actually make a difference. Instead of just filtering the world or just oversaturating the world with garments, garments, garments, we’re trying to make a difference. Because of course, garments will always be a part of our life here, but if you can do it in a way you’re not killing the world, you feel a sense of purpose, of personal purpose.
SJ: Finding this fulfillment as an employee must be extraordinary for you, because before you were freelancing, you had your own brand GLEON 1938. It probably must have been a big change when switching from your own products to representing a brand. How is it different when working for a brand than doing your own products?
AP: I think it’s completely different as you are working collaboratively. Everything is build off of a team, from the initial ideation of the direction for the season to working with different partners to help to complete the collection. Whereas when I was working on my brand, I did everything on my own. I cut and sewed, and created my own patterns. I was connecting with different creatives, from my photographers to models and event creators for whenever I did fashion shows. At Timberland, we're involving another community of manpower to help get the brand globally reached. But what I definitely think is the difference when you’re working for a brand is, not only do you have the financial support, but you can actually make a global statement when it comes to being sustainable. But I really think you can take your ideas and your mindset from working on your personal brand and bring the two at a larger scale when you’re working collaboratively with other designers. You can really see how it can become something big.
SJ: Would you say your old designs have become a part of your new work as well?
AP: I can definitely say that. For me, I have always been into function, as I mentioned before. Growing up, I have always been into maths and science. I was really into engineering throughout high school. And when I decided to pursue fashion design, it was another way to let out my creative side. So when I was designing personally for my brand, I did a lot of things that required a lot of function. So, for me, I used that same way of thinking coming from Timberland. Whenever we design something, we always design with a purpose. Whenever we present something, we can’t just say „Oh I did this pocket, because it looks nice“. We have to have a true reason why we did it. Especially, for me working off of the heritage of Timberland, we defined our customer and our customer loves function. Our customer goes outside a lot. so, you know we need to be able to equip them with anything they'll need, whether it’s multiple pockets or a reversibility or whatever. Every detail that he can use when he’s outside. so for me, I was able to translate my functional way of thinking to Timberland.
SJ: Looking back, what is your favorite part of being a fashion designer?
AP: I have so many favorite parts of being a fashion designer [laughs]. First, I would say the traveling is one of my favorite parts, because I love to travel and I am really really excited and grateful to have a job that allows me to travel. Seeing different cultures, seeing different things that help inform your collections. The second thing I can say is when you actually get the garment, because you spend so much time sketching in 2D or sketching on the computer and then when you actually receive the garment that feeling to see it is just like „wow amazing!“. To see it transform from paper to an actual product is a very... it’s kind of like a confirmation.
SJ: Hearing this, you’re very passionate about your job. Which is great! You’d probably recommend becoming a designer.
AP: Yeah, I do!
SJ: If you would have to advice someone who wants to become a designer, which advice would you give him or her on how to achieve this career?
AP: I would definitely say, to surround yourself with people who you aspire to be. Getting to know other people that are designers. To ask questions. That way you can, you know, get advice from them. Also, be open to learn on your own. Do a lot of research. Like for me, I have always done a lot of research, I learned how to sew when I was 12. That was kind of a self-taught process. So when you’re open to researching, problem solving, anything like that that can really help you and boost you to becoming a designer.
SJ: Did you already know that you want to be a designer when you were 12?
AP: Yes!!! I know, it’s so crazy. As i mentioned before I was really smart in school, like i was the valedictorian and the president of my class. I was really smart, I was like the mathlete nerd kind of girl. But at the same time, my family is filled with a lot of creativity. My mother works a lot with wood and my grandfather used to build with wood, too, he was a carpenter and a painter. And for me, just being surrounded by that as a kid was always something I also wanted to do. So I used to sketch all the time! I got my first sewing machine when I was 12. And from there, I used to make a lot of things, I made my prom dresses when I was in high school. So for me this was always a part of who I was, I’ve always known I wanted to be a designer since I was very young. And i just took the path to follow to get me to where I am now.