The innovative and creator-focused online program has prepared young talent for opportunities in the footwear industry
NEW YORK, April 29, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Reebok, the iconic lifestyle brand; in partnership with Yellowbrick, the online education platform focused on the Creator Economy; sneaker and fashion specialty retailer APB; and national education and workforce nonprofit Jobs for the Future (JFF), today announced the completion of their first collaborative online education and mentorship program. Launched last year, the program worked with 36 individuals, ages 17-20, to develop the relevant knowledge, skills, and experience needed for a pathway into the sneaker industry. The program concludes with the drop of a Reebok sneaker that was designed, produced, and marketed by three of the students: Isaac Reeves, Ashley Hamilton, and Ben Gass. The product will be available online from 4.29 at www.apbstore.com and in store at APB locations in Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, Tallahassee and Jacksonville.
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Inspired by the "Dream in the night, achieve in the day" motto, "Duality" was crafted by three aspiring students with a passion for design, creativity, and industry knowledge. Through a program created by Yellowbrick, Reebok, APB, and Jobs for the Future, Isaac "Ikey" Reeves, Ashley Hamilton, and Ben Gass, all collaborated with a goal to create something unique - with meaning and impact for the community. With proper mentorship and guidance, the students were able to bring the concept to life. (Photo: Business Wire)
The 36 participants were chosen through a rigorous national submissions process that began in the spring of 2021. Once selected, the students engaged with online instruction that was held weekly for 12 weeks. The pro bono instruction, combined content from Yellowbrick’s popular Sneaker Essentials course (developed in collaboration with FIT and Complex) with live mentorship from leaders at Reebok and APB. The program covered sneaker development from concept to market, including design, sales, marketing, and the C-to-C retail market. All participants produced a final project that included a unique sneaker design, production, and retail and go to market strategies.
"There’s a perception in the sneaker industry that the only way in is through design channels pursued along traditional paths - we wanted to turn that belief on its head," said Sean Finucane, Vice President, Wholesale at Reebok. "With the support of this program, these gifted students now possess valuable experience and portfolio pieces that will help them demonstrate their talents to the industry, regardless of the path that they’ve taken. We are honored to have been a part of that process."
As a bonus project and opportunity, the three students who submitted the most compelling designs and plans were invited to work together to develop a shoe for production and sale through APB. The selected design came from Isaac "Ikey" Reeves, a creative director and artist from Lafayette, Indiana. Two other students, Ashley Hamilton, and Ben Gass were selected for their additional talents and helped execute the production and marketing behind the shoe. Hamilton is currently a freshman at Howard University and a future Marketing major. Gass is from San Diego, CA, and studies at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR.
Together, with the guidance of their mentors, the students took the sneaker through the final design process and into production, while also navigating pandemic-fueled supply chain challenges. The team developed and executed the marketing plan and creative assets that will drive the sales of the shoe. The assets can be seen here (high resolution available upon request). Net proceeds from the purchases will go toward additional funding for the program, which the partners hope to kick off in the coming months.
"We were simply amazed by the dedication we saw in these learners - joining the sessions every Saturday and handling tough assignments during the week while also working jobs or attending school," said James Whitner, Owner & Founder of The Whitaker Group, the award-winning retail company that owns APB. "We saw real passion and commitment, and we’re extremely happy for these three students."
"Our Sneakers Essentials course has been elevated through the work that we did with Reebok, APB and JFF," said Michael Godshall, Chief Creative Director at Yellowbrick. "Students were able to interact directly with Reebok and APB experts representing all facets of the industry. We’re immensely proud of what all the participants accomplished. We look forward to working with our partners on future career pathway programs."
"At JFF, we partner with innovators that are building new models and solutions towards social and economic advancement," said Kristina Francis, executive director, JFFLabs, a team that bridges JFF’s traditional field leadership with new relationships, practices, and business models. "This program from Yellowbrick works not only because it helps people build skills through work-based learning and career exploration, but it also makes an investment in the long-term growth of students through mentorship, social capital, and network connections that enable learners to access—and sustain—careers in high-growth sectors like Creative."
To learn more about the program, visit:
Reebok is an iconic pioneering lifestyle brand with a rich and storied fitness heritage dating back to 1895. Founded on athletic footwear that changed the direction of sport, Reebok continues to introduce innovations that propel the industry forward. Today, Reebok sits at the intersection of active, lifestyle and sport, offering high quality and modern styles that are adaptable for every occasion. The brand strives to deliver every athlete, from professionals to enthusiasts, with the opportunity, products and inspiration to reach their full potential. Reebok currently operates in 80 countries with approximately 400 freestanding stores around the world.
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a national nonprofit that drives transformation of the American workforce and education systems to achieve equitable economic advancement for all. www.jff.org
Yellowbrick is a global leader in online education for the Creator Economy and career exploration in the Arts, Media, Sports, and Entertainment industries. The company develops exciting, accessible online programs in collaboration with top brands and world-renowned universities. Many key influencers in media and culture participate as instructors on the platform; including some of the world’s top entertainment industry professionals connected through Yellowbrick’s recent acquisition of Animation Mentor. Backed by Sony Innovation Fund, University Ventures, Condé Nast, and others, the company’s mission is to help a new generation of talent discover, pursue, and advance career paths that are aligned with the things they love. Find out more at www.yellowbrick.co
All Points Bulletin (APB) is one of the banners of The Whitaker Group, the award-winning retail group owned by fashion entrepreneur James Whitner, recipient of the 2020 Retailer Of The Year award by Footwear News. With locations in Tallahassee, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Jacksonville, APB offers an experience and brand assortment for the evolving young consumer, connecting sneaker and apparel brands to youth culture.
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Heath Fradkoff, Ward 6 Marketing