If you have an interest in Nike or the athletic footwear, apparel and equipment industry, this interview of Nike CEO Mark Parker by Business of Fashion is a very good read.
I was particularly taken by Parker’s answer to the question, “for all those designers out there, what advice would you give to them on interaction with the business side?”:
“I do think that the power of design is amplified when it learns how to connect with the business side in a way that actually enables design to be executed at the highest level. Now that doesn’t always happen. There are many situations where business might not be an enabler; it might be a detractor; it might be a hurdle. But the more that design can appreciate the power of combining creativity with the power of scaling a business, it will only empower design in the end. It will only help design achieve even more.”
In this response, you can see the benefit of having a CEO who’s spent a fair bit of time living in both the design and business worlds. Most industry observers fail to appreciate the extent to which Parker’s roots in design have contributed to Nike’s financial success because most industry observers—and most business people, for that matter—fail to appreciate the power of design. Fortunately for Nike, Parker is not like most business people.
And, having had the opportunity to meet and present to Mark Parker (always a nerve wracking experience!), I can tell you that this is not a facade. He has incredibly sharp instincts for design—the sort of instincts that stem from an innate talent that's been honed by years in the trenches creating products that are both desirable and manufacturable at scale.
But enough commentary from me—check out the BoF interview to hear from the man himself!