Workshop looks at the business end of sports product design

Sewing part of a shoe

Bill Bowerman used a waffle iron on his first prototype of a running shoe, but attendees to the Art of Sports Apparel Making workshop are encouraged to leave all of their small kitchen appliances at home.

Welcoming attendees from inside and outside the sports apparel industry, the workshop is offered by the Sports Product Management Program at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. It will be held April 20-21 at the White Stag Building in Portland.

Elizabeth LeMay, a product creation and innovation expert with more than 20 years of experience with companies such as Nike and Liz Claiborne, will lead the workshop along with John Notar, who has spent 25 years on the business side of creation at Nike. 

“It is not a design class,” said Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, director of the Sports Product Management Program. “It’s a business of creation class. The people who attend are trying to improve their knowledge and skill set in areas such as product development, product marketing, prototyping, materials, design thinking, strategy as well as others.”

The two-day workshop is a combination of theory, strategy and hands-on practice. Classroom time will focus on insights into materials, how to establish and craft a brand vision, strategy and merchandising. On the second day of the workshop, participants put theory into practice by making their own shirts. Although the workshop’s target audience is people in the sports product industry, it is open to anyone interested in the creation of sports apparel.

Nike, Adidas and Columbia Sportswear are among the brands that have sent participants to previous workshops, but attendees from support industries such as materials and technology also take part, learning best practices for working successfully within the sports apparel culture, Schmidt-Devlin said.

“Some attendees are footwear people moving to apparel and need to know more about this very different product type,” she explained. “Some are apparel people wanting to move up in their organization, so they are investing in their personal development.”

The cost of the two-day workshop is $999, and includes daily coffee, lunch and snacks. For more information, visit

By Laurie Notaro, University Communications