POV: You Attended Nike’s Future 50 for Her Event with FIERCE
Nike’s Future 50 for Her event was a celebration of the brand’s 50th anniversary and the accomplishments of women during these five decades. Fun fact, Nike was founded around the same time Title IX was passed, which made it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on sex and thus created a myriad of opportunities for women. The celebration spanned three days of activities which included a dinner with professional women athletes, a panel with Jefa sneaker shop owners, and even visiting Blue Ribbon Sports (the original Nike brand before rebranding as the name now recognizable across the globe). The entire experience was tremendously impactful, and it inspired me with messages I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
This was the first time I met some of the Nike team, with whom we’d only previously communicated through email and Zoom meetings. We started the evening by heading over to Nike LAHQ, where we were welcomed into their courtyard with the most gorgeous set up of tables set with custom event menus, our names in calligraphy, y toda la cosa. After a few minutes of mingling and taking pics with the most perfect sunset lighting, we sat down and were officially welcomed to the event. This was the moment I realized the magnitude of the event.
As a celebration of boss women for boss women and by boss women, the attention to detail was impeccable. At the bar, they were serving cocktails with Yola Mezcal, an Oaxacan distillery founded by and run by women. The dinner itself was a three-course meal curated by Chefs Camilla Marcus and Jing Gao, both incredibly accomplished women who are doing big things in the food industry.
The dinner company was next level, I’m talking LEGENDS. Lisa Leslie, Joan Benoit, Chloe Kim, Tunde Oyeneyin, Brandi Chastain, Michelle Wie West, Gisele Thompson, Tara Nicolas, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Oksana Masters, Alyssa Thompson, and Rebekah Price all joined us for dinner along with some of the Nike executive Jefas. It was incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by so many fierce women.
After dinner, we shuttled back to the hotel where some stayed. As soon as I got off the bus I was given a Nike luggage with a metal plate that read my name. Stoked is an understatement. I went home in tears that night, grateful for every moment in my life that led me to this point in time.
The next day we were up early and taken to Blue Ribbon Sports in Santa Monica — the store that started it all. Blue Ribbon Sports was founded in 1967 and rebranded as Nike in 1971. BRS was founded as a place where runners could gather, get gear, and train, and it quickly became a community staple for runners across Los Angeles. We got our lattes with Nike art and perused the store, which was bursting with history. Here we were joined by Nike Yoga trainer Rebekah Price who guided us through a mindful meditation session and talked about the importance of staying present. Cafecito, history, and meditation, what better way to start the day? But that was just the beginning…
Following the exercise, we were joined by Vanessa Garcia-Brito, VP of Nike Communications North America, as she led a conversation with Joan Benoit Samuelson and Chloe Kim, two Olympic athletes.
Joan Benoit talked to us about her experience in marathon running, how being active was looked down upon when she was young, and how she didn’t care. Being an athlete paid off when she got to high school, and Title IX was passed, which created a plethora of opportunities for women without the fear of legal discrimination. Nike noticed Joan’s drive and athletic ability and stepped in to support her, and Joan became the first woman to win a Gold Medal in the marathon at the Olympic Games in 1984. She shared with us that the morning of our dinner, she ran a casual 16 miles. How’s all of that for inspiration?
Also speaking was Chloe Kim, no stranger to the Olympics. In 2018 at just 17 years old, she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding. Most recently, at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, she took home another Gold Medal for the same event. Chloe spoke to us about the lack of Asian-American representation in a sport like snowboarding, how difficult that experience was for her, and how she’s happy to be the representation that young Asian-American girls can look up to.
After the conversation wrapped up, we went back to Nike HQ for an in-depth look at how Nike is making a recommitment to women.
In their Inclusive Design for Every Body panel, we learned about the technology that the company is using to create products that support all bodies, inclusive of all our shapes and sizes — including who they call the toughest athletes — mamas to be. Sports bras and leggings existed, but up until now had not been designed with the mindfulness Nike is implementing into workout gear for women. An illustrative example of this is sneakers. Up until a few years ago, sneaker culture didn’t cater to women, and most of us had to resort to buying men’s or kids’ shoes, neither of which were designed for the needs of women’s feet. There has been so much progress made in this area, and Nike is ensuring that this is implemented in all products for women.
Shortly thereafter, we got a chance to work out with Nike Trainer Tara Nicolas, who led us all through a HIIT workout that got us warmed up for the dance workout with Dexter Carr. You can find both trainers and more on the Nike Training App, where you can also find hundreds of workouts for however, you want to move your body. Once we landed the choreography to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” it was time to call it a day.
We started our day at the Nike flagship store located in The Grove, where we got a first look at Nike’s newest store design exhibition that highlighted the historic milestones and accomplishments of women athletes. There are post-it notes addressing product details and athlete timelines, from how the iconic waffle soles were created to Joan Benoit’s journey to becoming an Olympic champion.
Once back at Nike HQ, we were joined by trailblazing women in the retail space, which included Jennifer Ford of Premium Goods, Beth “Bephie” Birkett, co-founder of Union LA and founder of Beauty Supply Los Angeles, Sally Aguirre of Sally’s Shoes, Abby Albino of Makeway, and Julie Hogg of Wish. Together they shared their experiences in navigating a male-dominated industry, learnings along the way, and where they see the future of sneaker culture going. These Jefas succeeded in not only creating a place where women could shop for sneakers but also cultivating a community within their store unlike any other. These women uplift, empower, and have become crucial pillars in their neighborhoods, both in person and online.
For the second panel of the day, we were joined by none other than Basketball Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie and Nike North America GM Shannon Glass for a conversation about what’s next for Nike in the digital space. Nike offers a variety of applications and workouts for anyone interested in moving their body. From audio-guided runs to dance workouts, Nike is making fitness accessible to anyone with a smartphone, and we got a first look at the upcoming 48-week program designed specifically for soon-to-be and new mommies. To wrap up the panel conversation, we watched an extended cut of Nike’s 50th-anniversary project with Spike Lee, which featured “Zimmie,” who reminded us that the best in sports, especially women’s sports, is yet to come.
Following the panels, we were given an exclusive first look at an upcoming audio-guided run narrated by the ultimate Hottie, Megan Thee Stallion, which we listened to as we jogged down the Santa Monica coastline.
This entire event was so special. I left feeling motivated and inspired to do more, to be better, and to tell anyone who will listen about the ways in which Nike is leading the way for women. The last 50 years laid the foundation for women in sports, but these future 50 years will show us all what we’re really capable of as women and as athletes. Because as Nike says, if you have a body, you are an athlete.