How many pairs of shoes do you own?
LPL catches up with Big Sky’s homegrown Nike Footwear developer
After graduating from Lone Peak High School in 2013, Tucker Shea attended Cornell University, studying fiber science and apparel design with a concentration in product development before landing his dream job at Nike Footwear in 2017. We wanted to know, how’s life?
LPL: Where are you living now? Did you ever imagine you’d relocate there? What do you enjoy about it?
TS: I’m living in Portland, Ore., right now and I love it. It has been a great mixture of living in a city but having access to all sorts of outdoor activities, like skiing, surfing, hiking and camping. When I was going through school, I thought that I would move to New York City upon graduation because of all of the job opportunities there, but I’m very happy to have ended up here.
LPL: We hear you’re working for Nike—Could you tell us more about your position there?
TS: My Nike gig started out as an internship the summer before my senior year of college, and turned into a full-time position when I got a full-time offer after senior year. Right now, I work as a footwear material developer for the Jordan brand, and I work specifically on sportswear, women’s and kids’ shoes. I work with material designers, footwear developers, footwear engineers, footwear designers, color designers and marketing. Basically, my job is to create and develop materials that fit the desired aesthetic while maintaining a high level of performance for the Jordan athlete and consumer. I get to work with leathers, textiles, synthetics, skins and many other material types to see
how they can be used in shoes. It has been a tremendous learning experience, and the exposure that I have gotten so far has been invaluable.
LPL: It’s “dumping” out there as they say. Do you get to ski and snowboard anymore? What else do you miss about little ole Big Sky?
TS: I’ve been super lucky to have been able to go back during the holidays and take advantage of some of the snow that Big Sky has been getting. Christmas week was insane, and I also took some of my co-workers back to ski over MLK weekend. I was able to ski a little bit when I was going to school on the east coast, but it barely felt like skiing being from Big Sky. Now that I’m in Portland I got a season pass to Mount Hood Meadows, but there hasn’t been much snow. Other than skiing, I really miss the people of Big Sky. Every time that I go back, it’s so nice to see so many of the people that I grew up with and that watched me grow up.
LPL: As a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
TS: Professional skier, like I think a lot of kids who grow up in Big Sky want to. But when I started to get a little older, I began to get really into sneakers. So, working at Nike in some capacity has always been my dream, and throughout college I was lucky enough to find a path to get here.
LPL: What advice would you give to someone growing up here who hopes to someday land their dream job?
TS: What I found worked for me is that even when I felt like something was out of my reach, I still at least tried. And there were many times it didn’t work out, but persistence was key. Big Sky may seem extremely small at times, but there is a big network of people with incredible connections who are more than happy to help. Always expand your network and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented through it.
LPL: How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?
TS: I have 50 or so pairs at this point.
LPL: What was the best thing that happened to you recently?
TS: Meeting Michael Jordan, hands down. The first time I “met” him I was walking around the office, and I was sending emails on my phone so I wasn’t paying too much attention to my surroundings. I was passing Larry Miller’s office, who is the president of the Jordan brand, and almost ran into someone who was exiting. I apologized and as I looked up, realized that it was the GOAT himself. I tried to say something, but had lost all words so I gave him a head nod and kept walking, completely forgetting where I was going. Luckily later that week I was able to officially introduce myself.