Allbirds has rooted itself in the American pool of sneaker-making talent.
The San Francisco company, known for its sustainability-focused footwear, recently formalized its location in Portland, Oregon, where the “majority” of its marketing, design and development experts are based, a spokesperson confirmed. ‘Allbirds last week. The product center opened in the spring “invites[s] world-class talent to our brand,” the representative added, while providing “greater agility and a centralized approach” to produce goods that can compete with the best of the best.
The Portland office already has around 22 employees, including former Adidas executive Kate Ridley, Allbirds brand manager since January. Other Adidas alumni include Spencer Watts, Director of Concepts and Surface Design. The carbon-cutting company recently lured product designer Cody Galvin from Nike, which also saw former store designer Marko Kennelly Ullman become Allbirds’ creative director for retail less than a year ago. . Vice President of Product Design Ashley Comeaux also left a shoe design role at Nike to develop Allbirds’ product chops. Aurelio Martinez Kalifa, director of merchandising, previously rose through the ranks at brand owner Jordan.
The resale newbie aims to grow his headcount in Portland by “investing[s] across our product and innovation teams,” the spokesperson added.
The Adidas collaborator’s newly established presence in Portland could aggravate the ongoing brain drain at Beaverton-based Nike, just 20 minutes down the road. The Swoosh brand has seen dozens of “high profile” executives depart in 2021 alone, with reports describing the exodus as a loss of “1,000 years of experience”.
Allbirds, for its part, is trying to catch up with the big boys.
The new office comes as the B Corp curbs hiring after cutting nearly two dozen employees and seeing second-quarter losses rise to $29.4 million from $7.6 million a year earlier . Although Allbirds is liquidating $11.6 million in “end-of-life” first-generation apparel, co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown believes the category “has a very important role to play” because it complements the consumer shoe purchases and could help increase basket sizes and average order value.
Meanwhile, Allbirds appointed Ann Freeman to its board on Tuesday, effective immediately. Using the surname Hebert at the time, the longtime industry executive left her post as vice president and general manager of Nike for North America last year under a cloud of suspicion after an investigation revealed irregularities surrounding his son’s sneaker resale business, which he financed at least in part with his credit card.
In a statement, Freemans said she finds Allbirds’ “no-compromise approach to footwear and apparel focused on style, comfort and durability” appealing.
Allbirds co-founding CEO Joey Zwillinger cited the former Nike veteran’s “wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership.”
“We believe his strong background in leading diverse teams and solving complex issues at the world’s largest footwear company will be a tremendous benefit to our business as we continue to evolve and grow. scale with consumers around the world,” he added.