As a Footwear Product Line Manager at Nike SB, Nicole redefines a male-dominated industry.

Gamer Collection was inspired by our fight on and off the field for progress through creativity and art. It’s dedicated to those leading the fight for gender and racial equity in ways that reimagine the status quo.
Our definition of Gamer: anybody who uses their crafts and specialties to boldly disrupt oppressive structures.
Meet Nicole—Footwear Product Line Manager at Nike Skateboarding.

We asked Nicole a few questions...

Q: Our Spring 2021 collection, Gamer, stems from our fight for pay equity as members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. It’s about breaking norms and barriers—how do you defy norms in your life?
A: Choosing to have the tough conversation over letting something slide when it’s not okay is something I try to do every single day. You never know what type of impact you are capable of until you and others around you are consistently fighting for the same thing and being an ally for each other even when it’s hard.

What energizes me is when I am able to talk to someone who has a completely different perspective on something that you know is true because you’ve lived it, breathed it, and still experience it, and having them meet you half way by the end of the conversation and say “Wow I never thought of it that way.” That creates a less biased future where we can have real conversations about moving things like gender equality forward when we start from the same place.

Choose your hard!

Q: One of the themes from our collection is "Smash patriarchy." The game has changed, yet there's many outdated rules that need to be reinvented. What are you reinventing or believe needs to be reinvented to get beyond patriarchy?
A: The biggest thing for me is to get people to care even when they will never know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. How do I get someone on the same page to move something forward?

I think my favorite example is from the realities of gender gap from the book 'The Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez. There are just so many different ways you can see how the baseline of society is systemically biased towards men as the default to how the world operates. How do we even begin to start designing product solutions for women when they are not considered when research is conducted, but they are an end user? It blows my mind how as a result, women are actually at higher risk when using these products because they were not a part of the equation from the beginning.

Every time I get a seat at the table I make sure that I don’t waste that opportunity to champion change by educating, challenging and holding others accountable to their words - especially representing the underrepresented. As a female minority in a male-dominated industry, you don’t have to assimilate to become successful - not to professional male, female, or non-binary stereotypes. It’s so important to stay authentic on your way up so that a younger women can see themselves becoming a leader and staying true to who they are even when they are at the top.

Be unapologetic about how you show up.

"As a female minority in a male-dominated industry, you don’t have to assimilate to become successful - not to professional male, female, or non-binary stereotypes. It’s so important to stay authentic on your way up..."

Q: Games can cultivate a creative and/or competitive spark—how do you keep your creative and/or competitive spark alive?
A: Never settling with being comfortable. I moved a lot when I was younger and so I have been unconsciously used to change. I am a such a sponge when it comes to learning about new cultures and subcultures because that’s how I learnt to fit in. So once I feel like I’m doing too much of the same thing, I pivot.

I draw a lot parallels from other disciplines that share similar wavelengths. To be able to see the world through their eyes and learn about their process is what is the most fulfilling for me. We’re all doing the same thing - turning what was once impossible, possible and setting a new status quo for someone new to challenge in the near future.

What also helps is taking your mind off of something that you are obsessive and passionate about actually resets your mind. It’s hard for me. My brain is wired in a way that it doesn’t stop and those who know me know that I don’t sleep. But I am getting better and being intentional about winding down and taking breaks. The moment you are relaxed, you find your way right back into your flow. And when you get used to resetting your mind, you keep your creative and competitive spark alive.

Q: Gamer Collection was inspired by the games of our childhood—what was your favorite game growing up? Is there a character, figure, or person from gaming (or any playing field) that you identify with?
A: It has to be a 3-way tie between Shinobi II The Silent Fury on Sega Genesis (it was the first video game I ever played), GoldenEye 007 on N64 and Katamari on Playstation. The latter really being one of my all-time favorites because it is the most ridiculous game that I would play for hours and it ends up being extremely therapeutic and stressful at the same time.
Follow Nicole's journey on instagram @the8project . How are you using your craft to boldly disrupt?