Good Content from: Team Saucony
Saucony has joined forces with prinkshop, the “wear what you care about” apparel and accessories brand, to rally behind women who have entered the race and have their eye on the finish line. With this collaboration “Women Running”, we celebrate women who run for sport or for political office and honor their commitment to forging a better future for us all.
Part of prinkshop’s business model is to align with a social impact organization for each of its campaigns. For “Women Running” prinkshop and saucony selected She Should Run, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, that encourages women to consider running for political office and gives them the tools and resources to step up to the starting line. Saucony will be donating 10% of the Women Running sales to She Should Run to further the work they do to support women’s leadership in politics.
Anne Cavassa, our Saucony brand president, sat down with Pamela Bell, the founder and creative director of prinkshop, and Erin Loos Cutraro the founder and CEO of She Should Run to talk about the collaboration and discuss how it aligns with each of their work.
ANNE: It is so nice to meet you both and I thank you for the opportunity to moderate this discussion about the collaboration and introduce your organizations to the Saucony consumer. We are so excited.
Pamela, this is prinkshop’s first ever footwear collaboration, I would love to hear from your words, how did this project come to be?
PAMELA: Let me just start by saying, that I am so grateful for the opportunity to partner with this group.
The way it came to be was that someone from the Saucony team, who knew about prinkshop from some of the other campaigns we have done, approached me about doing a project together. I was intrigued from the beginning because most of our prinkshop graphics sit on shirts or totes and this was a great opportunity to do something new and different with our brand. Doing footwear was something I have always wanted to do and it was all about finding the right partner and the right concept.
ANNE: prinkshop has partnered with lots of great brands to tell important social impact stories through product. Why did you feel Saucony was the right partner for this particular campaign and how did you come up with the concept of “Women Running”?
PAMELA: I immediately liked the team, their passion and enthusiasm and I felt that they really understood me and the prinkshop brand. And then when I went on the Saucony website as part of my research and read about “Run For Good”, I thought, ‘this is amazing’ and I was kind of sold. And I think I read something that the marketing team said about “we sell goodness” and I just felt like it wasn’t just words on a website and was really integrated into the Saucony brand and felt that our brands were really like minded.
PAMELA: And once we started talking in more detail and figuring out the timing of a collaboration, the idea of “Women Running” just came to me. prinkshop is very women-centric in terms of the issues we care about and so the double meaning of Women Running for a running brand like Saucony and in light of the upcoming election, just made sense.
ANNE: And then, Pamela, you suggested we ask She Should Run to be the social impact partner. Can you tell us how you selected them?
PAMELA: I had been following She Should Run for a while and, Erin thank you for everything you are doing, I liked the sense of community and the mission of trying to even the gender playing field in terms of the decision makers in our country and I liked that She Should Run has a bi-partisan approach. I feel that the country is so divided and I am personally, and I think we are collectively, so exhausted by this fight of “us vs. them” and so just having it be about women running and not about party, I was just very attracted to that.
ANNE: And Erin, on the flipside, when the team approached you about the project, what was your reaction? Why were you interested in having She Should Run be part of this collaboration?
ERIN: Look, I was thrilled. For us in the work we do, working with women at the earliest stage of their run and helping them to see themselves in elected office, we felt that working with a talent like prinkshop that is so involved in social advocacy and with an amazing brand like Saucony that has such a following – it gave us the unique opportunity to reach women where they are, to help women connect the dots and help them find that purpose, tap into that drive. That same fire in the belly that gets women out for a run or to be active in their community, is what gets them to consider a run for elected office. I immediately felt the energy of the talent involved in this project and the opportunity and reach for our mission. There tends to be a lag around support to advance women in politics and there is this huge missed opportunity to lean in and get woman into more positions of power in politics. So I just want to acknowledge and applaud everyone involved in this project for stepping into this space. It isn’t easy to step into anything that involves politics. So thank you all for taking this on and for including us.
ANNE: I was so just excited when my team brought this to us. For me, being a female brand president and leader, I am so passionate about women’s leadership. Oftentimes it is just about being presented with the opportunity and the fact that She Should Run is about that and getting new people into politics, new leaders, is just incredible. You are helping women build their confidence and create their own opportunity. I find that things happen when you bring amazing people together to collaborate and unlock creativity and I think working with both of your organizations, prinkshop and She Should Run, gives Saucony as a brand the opportunity to actually lean in and be the change. And our consumer, she will respond. Our consumer is driven, she is self-motivated and is about betterment. Our consumers rally around community, they are ambitious leaders, and they are early adopters. So this collaboration just seemed super logical for us and seems to become more and more relevant as the days go by with all that we are dealing with.
ANNE: Erin, do you think women who run for sport and women who run for office have anything in common?
ERIN: Oh absolutely. I’m a runner, albeit a slow one, but I get out there and for me and I know for a lot of runners, every run has a purpose, and purpose is one of the big drivers of why we see women step up to explore a run for office. They feel either a sense of wanting to be part of some change or to find a solution and you have to have that purpose to want to run for office and you have to have that purpose to get out for any kind of sport, to do what you do. And, Anne, as you said about your consumer, these women who step up, they want to get something done, they want to problem solve and be part of good. I think there is amazing connectivity there.
Anne: That is so interesting, as you were talking it made me think that, a lot of times, for women who are not runners, running races and events, there is a level of intimidation there and usually it is the cause or charity that gets them into it and allows them to take those first few steps and start training because they are doing it for something bigger than just the run. It is for the purpose.
I am curious if you find that with the women who come to you, do they need something to push them into it and once they do, are they all in?
ERIN: Oh yea. Absolutely. There are so many similarities to what it takes to get women to the starting line because we create all these scenarios in our head that we’re not good enough, we’re not talented enough, we don’t have what it takes and then you get there and what you realize is that there is something more to it. Whether it’s the fire in your belly and your purpose or that you’re not doing it alone and not just for yourself but for others, so that you can feel more complete. There are a lot of parallels.
ANNE: Pamela, women’s issues are at the forefront of the work you do at prinkshop. Why is this collaboration important to you and how does it align with the work prinkshop has done up until this point? And what are your goals for the collaboration?
PAMELA: Well, first of all, creating awareness and raising funds for our partners are always my first two goals when launching a campaign so even though the number of shoes or shirts or hats that we sell will be finite, the awareness we generate will have greater reach and will hopefully inspire people to get involved, look at the organization and support it and in this case, hopefully it will inspire women to contact She Should Run and get some help to run for office. That would be the ultimate goal.
ANNE: Pamela, how do you think having more women in office will impact the social issues that prinkshop focuses on?
PAMELA: Well I think that women just get things done. And I’m not trying to trash men. They say that if you want to get something done, ask a working mom (Laughing). Women are sensitive to women’s issues, which are at the forefront of what prinkshop cares about, and they have a lot more empathy. I just think having more women in office will create more opportunities for women and families. And I think that women politicians and women running for office right now are almost like the new celebrities. They have such an opportunity, aside from the policies they are looking to change, to actually speak to a broader audience and be role models for a younger generation. I have two daughters and lots of young interns and it is so interesting to see how they are responding to what they are seeing women politicians do right now more so than what some of the traditional celebrities are saying and doing.
ANNE: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think women have a way of looking at things that brings the whole life and family into consideration and women find creative ways to problem solve.
Erin, we’re super curious, have you ever considered a run for office?
ERIN: (Laughs) I love this question and whenever I’m asked it I always give a political response back like, ”Maybe I would consider a run.” But really, I absolutely would consider a run for office. It will probably be for local office and it likely won’t be anytime soon because I am really committed to the work I am doing now. I didn’t come to politics through a political family or with a political upbringing, in fact it is quite the opposite. I came to it in my adult life seeing what women were getting done in elected office and being drawn to really badass smart problem solvers. Once I started working in this space and working with candidates all over the country, I started to see the real barriers faced by the women who aren’t represented at all – women of color, women of different income levels – and there is so much more work that needs to be done for all women to be able to step up and feel that they can be on the inside and that their voices need to be on the inside. So, someday, yes, but right now I, pretty fired up about what I am doing.
ANNE: Well I look forward to that day – it’s going to be fun to watch and see what happens with you.
You have been quoted saying that women are half the population, but only a fraction of those in political office. What do you think it will take to have more balanced representation?
ERIN: It’s going to take a whole heck of a lot more women seeing what’s possible for their leadership. We’re driven at She Should Run by a pretty big vision of adding 250,000 women to the pipeline by 2030 and that number wasn’t pulled from the air, there are over 500,000 elected offices in the country and the work that we are doing is not always tangible because we are working with the women who are in the phase of, “someone told me I should run for office but I have no idea where to start” not the woman who is already on the ballot. The field is wide open in terms of who we are trying to target and reach, finding all these women who are getting it done in their communities and at their workplaces but aren’t connecting the dots to a run for office. So what it will take is really intentional pipeline building work to meet these women where they are and helping them connect the dots to what can be accomplished for the causes and issues they care about. We’re talking about huge numbers of women across the board who need to have to have that “aha” moment and connect to that purpose. And that’s the work of She Should Run and it isn’t going to happen overnight or in one election cycle or even in a couple of election cycles. As we continue to normalize the conversation around the need for women to be equally represented in elected office and we continue to lean in, even through collaborations like this, to politics not being something we can’t talk about but something we have to talk about because it’s necessary.
ANNE: While most of us are focused on the 2020 elections, you are already working towards election cycles beyond this year. What do you think will be the biggest difference with the next wave of candidates?
ERIN: I’ll tell you, the thing I’m most hopeful about – is that increasingly what we’re seeing is that old school, boys club playbook that has long been in place in politics, that you have to look a certain way and talk a certain way, is more and more through each cycle we’re proving that it less relevant. Women are increasingly stepping up and running for office and being exactly who they are and telling their full story of self and voters are really responding to that, they are looking for that authenticity and seeing the value that women bring and that unique perspective that women bring. I think we’ll continue to see more diverse candidate pools. And if you look at something like incumbency in this country, it’s really hard to challenge an incumbent and win but it’s happening more and more because what voters are looking for is changing. This next generation of leaders is bringing fresh perspective and urgency around doing better and a willingness to challenge the ways things are being done. And I will add, even though we are incredibly divided in partisanship and beyond, younger generations tend to be less likely to align with a political party, and while there will always be political parties, for the health of building smart policy we need women all across the board who are coming to politics to solve problems. I am increasingly hopeful about that.
ANNE: As I am listening to you, there are so many parallels in business that I think about. I’ve been in the industry a long time and being surrounded by men and having mentors from the generation above and they were mostly all men. And the younger generation in our work force right now is really challenging those stereotypical norms and the old style of leadership and conventional wisdom. Like, let’s challenge that, let’s do it differently, let’s do it more empathetically, let’s do it with the whole person in mind. All of these things are forcing a different conversation. So as we’re talking, it’s making me think about the changes we are seeing in business and maybe they can help drive some of the changes in politics.
ERIN: Yes, absolutely.
ANNE: And I also want to say, Pamela, I feel it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in, especially in a business environment, and I know that is what prinkshop is all about and leaning into the things that are super important to you, but so often from a business perspective people hesitate because of the risks involved, but you are all about taking a stand and “let’s talk about it” and I think that is so incredible and I have so much respect for the business you have built.
PAMELA: Thank you so much Anne. For prinkshop, we came out of the gate that way so I wasn’t worried about isolating my customer base. We could just be authentic and talk about the things we believed in.
ANNE: So, on a lighter note, I am curious what each of your favorite piece is from the Women Running collection.
ERIN: Sneakers all the time for me. Sneakers with suits, sneakers with my running gear. And the sneakers from this collection are amazing. And I love the HERO graphic, because we are always saying that women who step up to serve their communities in this way are heroes. This is such a beautiful collaboration. Thank you so much.
PAMELA: I definitely am going to be rocking the Kinvara. I love seeing the red and blue together – to me it says democracy.
ANNE: Well, personally, I plan to wear it all. It all looks so great.
Thank you so much, prinkshop and She Should Run and the Saucony team that is making this happen. This is so inspiring and it is amazing to be part of this collaboration.