OEN Member NewsFast-growing Pensole hires Stephen Green (Portland Business Journal)


Green will help scale the company in the wake of a $2 million investment by Foot Locker.

Pensole Footwear Design Academy has hired one of Portland’s most visible executives to help scale the fast-growing company.

Pensole Footwear Design Academy has hired one of Portland’s most visible executives to help scale the fast-growing company.

Stephen Green started Monday as director of operations for Pensole. The shoe design school was founded in 2010 by former Jordan designer D’Wayne Edwards in order to provide opportunities for women and people of color.

“I’ve always admired his sense of business,” Edwards said of Green. “I’ve always known in the back of my mind when the option came for him to be part of Pensole that I would try to grab him as quick as I could.”

Green is known as an advocate for small businesses, particularly for women and people of color. He most recently worked as community director for WeWork. He’s also worked as a banker and a venture capitalist. He’s always collected sneakers.

Green has three children: daughters aged 12 and 6 and a 10-year-old son. He said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work for a black founder.

“My wife and I had a conversation months ago about what was important to us,” he said. “I want to show my kids that they can be anything they want to be. I want my kids to be able to hang out with these folks. I know what it means to a young person to see somebody who looks like you doing something different than what you might read about in the newspaper or see on TV.”

Pensole is in the midst of an expansion after it got a $2 million investment from Foot Locker. It has 15 employees today, roughly double what it had a year ago. Edwards said he plans to hire another four or five employees by the end of the year.

Green will focus on operations as Pensole adjusts to its new size. He’ll work on programming and collaborations with the major brands. He’ll also work on new initiatives, including a Pensole line of footwear.

“It’s a pretty aggressive plan of what we want to accomplish on the Academy side as well as creating new opportunities for aspirational kids,” Edwards said. “It’s ramping up pretty quick.”

Edwards expects to start selling Pensole products later this year. He’s also considering helping students get small collections to market.

“Next year you will see a lot more (products) come out,” Edwards said.

The revenue from product sales could eventually help underwrite the entire cost of attending the design school. Edwards has always worked to keep the cost down in order to make the school more accessible.

Edwards also said Pensole will host a celebration of African-American contributions to the footwear industry in Portland later this year. Pensole hosted a similar event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., in February.

More than 200 people attended.

“The response was amazing,” Edwards said. “It was about us getting together and inspiring each other.”

The Portland event will happen Aug. 10-12 at the start of the city’s annual Sneaker Week.

Source: www.bizjournals.com

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