Jesse Plouffe: Taking Children’s Sneakers from Design to the Store

When Jesse Plouffe graduated from Nichols in 2003, little did he know that he would end up developing some of the hottest children’s sneakers as a Sr. Product Developer at New Balance.

In some ways, one could compare Plouffe’s job to being a house building contractor. The position requires him to know much information about many areas but not become an expert in any. As a product developer, he has his hands in everything from design, fit and wear to costing, sourcing, production, and marketing.

Fortunately Plouffe’s classes at Nichols prepared him well for the job. “My classes were very helpful, from the basic business courses such as accounting and economics to my classes in sport management, sport law, and marketing,” he says. “My professors had tremendous industry experience and did a great job preparing me to work in the industry. They shared everything that they knew with us. I truly use everything I learned in my classes on the job every day.”

As a product developer, Plouffe not only influences the sneaker design but also works with overseas companies on production issues. “I have travelled overseas to our factories in China and Vietnam,” he says. “I never thought that I would travel halfway around the world for my job. It’s been pretty amazing and a great life experience.”

Given that the design to introduction stage is 18 months, Plouffe gains great satisfaction when his product finally makes it to the stores. “I enjoy going to work every day. It’s so much fun meeting with the parents and children who test the product. What’s great to see, are the shoes I developed, on the children of celebrities, at local shoe stores, on Boston.com and even on children at Walt Disney World,” he says.

It’s this enthusiasm and experience Plouffe willingly shares with current Sport Management students when he speaks in classes and serves as Chairman of Nichols Sport Management Accreditation Board. “When I graduated, the industry was so small, not like it is today. It’s a tough, competitive world out there, there, and students could be told ‘no’ but they have to stay strong and keep at it,” he explains. “In today’s sport management field, success in life can be helped by who you know. If I can be a liaison to the industry when students graduate, then I feel a sense of pride for helping these grads get off the ground.”