In 1908, Marquis M. Converse, a respected manager at a footwear-manufacturing firm, opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Mass., and began providing winterized rubber soled footwear for men, women and children. In 1917, when basketball was less than 25-years-old, Converse helped to revolutionize the game when they designed and produced the world’s first performance basketball shoes, the Converse All-Star.
Now almost 100 years later, Converse is still making its presence felt around the world.
Mike Parker, the director of basketball marketing for Converse, helps craft and communicate the company’s mission to the marketplace. A graduate of Cornell University, Parker began his career with NIKE in 1993 as an EKIN (NIKE spelled backwards) learning the ins and outs of all things NIKE on an entry-level. From there, he went on to become a product marketing manager for basketball apparel where he grew revenues from $30 million to $55 million in one year and created the “Battlegrounds” apparel concept that evolved into a national tournament that was televised on MTV.
After being promoted to product marketing manager for Limited Editions with the international behemoth, he soon made his mark by creating the first Puerto Rican Air Force One shoe that was the first cultural product collaboration in conjunction with the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Parker crafted the product strategy that made Air Force One’s the No. 1 selling sneaker of all time, initiated a licensing partnership with the clothing company Akademiks and introduced hip-hop star Mos Def as the brand spokesperson for the company. As the global director of RBK Entertainmen, Parker became the liaison between RBK and entertainters like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Pharrell, Nelly and Daddy Yankee to ensure synergy between the creative process and business strategies.
This accomplished young executive is continuing to make great strides with the Converse brand. How did he get to this point? “Good old-fashioned hard work … has allowed me to get results and propel myself to the next level. It’s been a great joy for me, [and] because of my love for basketball, it hasn’t really been work, [I have] been doing what I love,” says Parker.
–christa e. jackson
For more information about Converse and its products or initiatives, visit www.converse.com.