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Running and Diamonds

How I became a Nike designer…

  • Sep 12 2016
  • 0

How I became a Nike designer…

A must read for any runner or hard working, creative, big dreaming, goal driven, and passionate artist.


I am a runner. I started running at the age of 9 and have been running ever since. I love running so much that just talking about it makes me smile. Not only am I a runner, I’ve turned my passion for running into a business. A business that has been my sole source of income for the last seven years and, as a single mother, has supported both my son and I.

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In the last 7 years, I have operated the company in every aspect and all business processes including creating unique, original jewelry and apparel designs that reflect my electric enthusiasm for the sport I love, running.

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Over the years I have had the opportunity of showing our products to some of the most exciting running audiences in the entire world. These audiences include the symbolic, prestigious, marathon of all marathons, The Boston Marathon, the happiest race on earth, The Walt Disney World Marathon, and, in 2015, we were even selected to design the official jewelry of the internationally renowned San Francisco Marathon, just to name a few.

I also sell both our jewelry and apparel products at wholesale to a number of running stores and online retailers around the country. In 2014, we were invited and attended a retail show where the top running brands in the world showcased their products to specialty running stores from all across the world.

To add to our portfolio, our products have also been advertised in Runner’s World Magazine, by far the number one runner’s magazine on the planet. And our jewelry and apparel has also been featured on Active.com, which hosts the world's largest directory of sports and recreational activities, facilities, venues and classes, which includes more than 290,000 races, leagues, tournaments, camps and other recreational listings in more than 80 sports and 5,000 cities. Pretty much anyone who runs marathons or half marathons has had the opportunity to see our products in one way or another.

The Endure brand can be recognized in cities all over the country. Over the summer I traveled to Chicago where I had mentioned what I do to a fellow runner I had just met. After showing her my designs, her face lit up and she said, “Oh I’ve seen that shirt. A lady I just saw was wearing it running down the street!” Now if you can put a measuring stick to business success, whether it’s a number or a fact...hearing this woman say this, who I had just met, was priceless.

Now let’s rewind to this past spring where my hopes and dreams of becoming a designer for Nike begin to fall into place…

(and please be prepared for A LOT of Disney references as I am a CRAZY runDisney fanatic!)

The story begins this past April, I was selling my product at a running expo as usual. It was just another day in Monterey when a woman comes up to my booth and says, ““I need this shirt. My daughter has one exactly like it. I am so excited we are going to match.” I was so happy to hear that her daughter had the kid version of our shirt. I had never met this woman before and it was exhilarating to see her eyes light up when she went to grab the shirt I had designed. It made me so proud.

My 3-year-old at the time was one of the “models” featured on our website and that possibly meant his cuteness could take credit for the sale. This made me happy.

On our website we have a picture of him, his cousins, and his best little girl friend wearing neon yellow and neon pink versions of this shirt. So I proceeded to ask her, “Which one does she have? The pink or the yellow?”. She looked at me confused and said, “Its black…” continuing with a confused smile, “It’s exactly like this though except it’s Nike. I’m so excited to match her!” I processed her payment and let her on her way. I was so confused...did Nike really have a shirt like this?

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After she skipped off with her new tank, I immediately googled “Nike Run Smile” and this is what I found.

I was shocked.

Now as a designer, I understand the whole “gray area” of design and copyright and if the design is changed “enough” then another artist can publish something similar, just as long as it doesn’t create brand confusion. But when someone comes up to purchase a shirt and says, “...My daughter has one exactly like it.”, it pretty much confirms to me that brand confusion just took place right before my eyes. It wasn’t just a friend who noticed the similarity. So let’s examine them side-by-side:

I created my signature design in 2014. After realizing the success of the design, I obtained a copyright in 2015 that is now registered with the Federal Copyright office. My run smiley design has taken on many fun and festive variations including a Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter versions, with many more still waiting to be released. This shirt has become a signature look that is synonymous with Endure branding.

Looking at the two designs side-by-side I know there are some subtle differences. Nike tilted the face more upright, they also used capital letters instead of lowercase letters. But the hand-sketched style, and the fact that the left eye is an “R”, the nose is a “U”, and the right eye is an “N” make it so similar that when I posted this on social media, people just thought I was releasing the “t-shirt version” of our tank!

Now really...does making the R and N uppercase make it all okay? Does taking the concept and changing it just a little bit make it okay to completely take credit for a design? It shouldn’t. It’s just not fair. If this were a bigger company, Nike couldn’t and wouldn’t expect to get away with something like this. Nor would another company expect to get away with “slightly” changing a piece of art that Nike actually designed for their own brand.

Okay Nike, I’ll give you this, you weren’t the first to be “inspired” by our designs. We have successfully notified other companies of the copyright and they have politely removed their versions of the design from their stores.

One other company has been not so nice...but that’s a completely different story in itself. Check out our social media stalkers Gone for a Run below…

Our original designs are shown on the left…Gone for a Run’s ”inspirations” on the right.

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...I think they might be crushing a little to hard on our jewelry

And now our apparel too…..they posted their pink version within hours of our #FindingSunny game at Walt Disney World in February.

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Come on seriously?

That’s pretty much like Jafar trying to get Jasmine to fall in love with him.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Shame on you!

Back to the Nike story...

So the question I would get after showing these eerily similar shirts to people, the first question was always, “So are you going to sue them?”.

Long story short, we sent them a cease and desist (which, by the way, cost me well over 100 shirts of profit margins), and they basically flipped us the bird via legal document. The jist of it said, “We didn’t copy, we designed it on our own, we didn’t know about your design, it’s not substantially similar anyway…” and that they considered the matter closed. I call Pinocchio on this one…

So basically Nike gets e-mails with accusations of copyright infringement and they respond with this letter pretty much saying, go away, it’s not worth our time, STFU. And apparently this seems to work because who is going to be able to afford suing a monster like Nike? ...and with the legal teams they must have on their end, they know a single mommy really can’t do much without risking it all, just to end up possibly losing in the courtroom. So not fair.

Hey Nike, just a little FYI: flexing your wallets might make me back down from trying to sue you...but listen, bullying is not nice.

Up until this moment, I loved Nike. I had Nike everything. I wore Nike Pegasus to run in even though they weren’t the number one fit at my local Fleet Feet, I just loved the brand and I loved how they looked. They were a classic choice, a brand that grew out of a garage that began with a passion for running, just like my company did.

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I dressed my models in Nikes for photo shoots. I incorporated Nike products in my outfit posts and hashtagged and commented using their company handles accordingly. I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon as a bucket list race. I ran in Nike sports bras and traveled to the Nike outlet in Tulare pretty often just to update my wardrobe. I used a Nike watch, the Nike running app...the list goes on. I even dressed my little one in Nike. But this girl was Nike’d out.

I went through every emotion possible. I went from flattered at first, that Nike would like my design so much to produce one that they called their own, to heartbroken, to angry....

This is where the angry Sunny came out. Kind of like when Queen Elsa told Anna to leave and she unleashed the crazy giant snow monster, Marshmallow, after her.

Go away..

I started a #PaintingMyNikesRed campaign in hopes to get Nike’s attention. Perhaps they didn’t have time to deal with my case and maybe, just maybe this would shine a light on the situation.

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I got a lot of support and got some new people aware of what was going on. So much that over the last few weeks I had a number of people approach me, strangers even, just to buy the shirt they saw from the story they heard about on Facebook.

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Over the last few months, I found myself sharing this story over and over again with friends, family members, and complete strangers.

It made me sick.

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Commenting on posts and encouraging people to destroy their expensive Nike products to support me, at first felt empowering. Some of them used paint, some used red tape, some just bought my shirts and posted the shirt with the hashtag #PaintingMyNikesRed to help raise awareness. But with every encounter, every post, every mention of Nike, came heaviness, anger, and frustration. Think Inside Out...and Joy sitting with her arms crossed in the corner waiting for her turn to shine.

This just wasn’t me. I started getting sad about a happy face. Once I realized this, I knew that something needed to change. And it had to start with me.

After the initial buzz around the topic of “anti-Nike” and bloody red Nike shoes, I took some time off of the subject to let things settle.

My news feed became filled with violence from crazy things happening all over the world. Putting me in my place, helping realize that this isn’t really a tragedy, just a really sad, really disappointing story.

Soon after, my news feed became filled with Olympics. It was inspiring, beautiful things happened. Records were set. I got the opportunity to watch one of the girls from my hometown perform in front of the whole world. Another one of the girls I used to watch since high school was breaking Olympic records.

The entire time, I was flashed with Nike swoosh symbols; they were everywhere. As much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being punched in the chest each time I flashed across my screen.

I wondered. How could this happen? How often does this happen?

Pretty soon, my news feed became filled with presidential candidates and campaigns. I wondered...could anything really be done about this?

So I think I’ll ask some questions to those who might be able to give me the answer...

@RealDonaldTrump How do we keep giants like @Nike from taking advantage of small businesses? http://bit.ly/2cmDNZc

and…

@HillaryClinton Can a small, female-owned business stand a chance facing a giant like @Nike? http://bit.ly/2cmDNZc

Let’s cross our fingers and “retweet” and see if we can get an answer…

As for me...I am going to continue smiling when I run and will continue wearing my run smiley shirts proudly. I refuse to be sad about a happy face any longer.

I’d rather let Nike have that knock-off version of our shirt than spend any more of my time and energy being upset about this. I don’t care anymore.

Sunny badger don’t care!

Yes Nike...go ahead, keep that one.

Just do it.

You can take something that’s not yours, but for me, for my well-being, for my happiness, for my creativity to thrive and keep on thriving. I am left with no choice but to let it go…

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Thank you @Nike for the flattering gesture. I can now say that I’ve landed my dream job as a Nike designer…

Oh and P.S. @GoneforaRun...stop following us all over social media...it’s just creepy.

The Moms Behind the Brands

  • May 4 2016
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I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you all to thank my fellow exhibitor "Mommies" who have paved the way for running accessories across the country, even the world! Many people don't realize how small our operations are and that even though we are under those bright lights at the expo, we are all working our little tails off to bring you the best and most innovative products to make your experience the very best. Being a "mompreneur" often means, no days off, lots of overtime, no sleep, and finding creative ways to stay ahead of the game while juggling the huge responsibility of not only managing personal finance, inventory, marketing, product development, customer service, shipping, social media, and fitting in running and motherhood at the same time! Just because most of us don't have small etsy shops, doesn't necessarily we aren't small businesses so I want to thank you ALL for your continued support and Happy Mother's Day this special Tinker Bell weekend to all of these amazing Moms!

Happy Mother's Day Brenda Brundage from The Roo Sport! She developed a patented design on one of the most amazing running accessories ever invented! Go Mama go!

Happy Mother's Day Carrie Lundell from Sparkle Athletic! One of the founders of Sparkle Athletic, Boston Marathoner, and Mommy of 4!

Happy Mother's Day to Christy Baker of Running Skirts!

Happy Mother's Day to Cindy Lynch of Running Skirts! Look at her run with her two adorable cuties!

Happy Mother's Day Elise Wallace from Sparkle Athletic! An ironman finisher and mother of 2!

Happy Mother's Day Kelly from Sparkle Athletic! One of the strongest women I have ever met! *muah*

Sandy from BIC Bands a super hard-working Mother Runner! Happy Mother's Day to you!!

On behalf of all of these Mother Runners, we thank you for all of your support! Happy Mother's Day everyone!!

xo

Sunny and the Endure Team ;)

Ultimate Runner's Gift Guide

  • Nov 30 2015
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It's that time of the year where we show the ones we love how much we truly appreciate them! Most of us have a person in our life that deserves to be recognized. If you have a special someone in your life that just happens to be a runner, we've got a little cheat sheet to help you find her the perfect gift!

Since most runners already know what kind of shoes they like, it's gets hard to get creative when it comes to gift giving. I've broken it down into price points to make it a little easier. Here are 15 gift ideas all under $75!


Gifts Under $30.00

Run, Half Marathon, or Marathon Bracelets! Priced at an easy $29.00 (current pricing), these stainless steel cuff bracelets make a perfect gift! They can be carefully adjusted to fit any wrist. They come in three colors, rose gold, yellow gold, and silver. The great thing about stainless steel, is that it doesn't tarnish!

Another idea for a runner gift under $30.00 is a festive holiday tee! The eyes and nose of these characters spell out the word "run". This is a cute twist on our signature "Run Smiley" design. Available in "Runny the Snowman" white, Run Santa red, and Run Elf green!


Gifts Under $60.00

At the top of my list is our sweaters from our Run Merry Collection! Again, choose between the Runny the Snowman, Run Santa, or Run Elf!

Another jewelry idea is our silver stud earring collection. All of these designs are inspired by running! We have the Tortoise and the Hare, which are our all time best sellers, the Roadrunners, distance studs in 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2, and newly added wing earrings! Current pricing: Sterling Silver $38 and yellow gold or rose gold plated silver $58!

Another great gift idea is a stackable ring! The only thing about this gift is that you would need to know the ring size you need. Most people can fit a size 6 or 7 on at least one of their fingers so if you are willing to just guess, a size 6 or 7 ring would probably work just fine! My favorite stackable ring is the "Runfinity" ring. Current pricing: $54.00

Other gifts under $50 are our Run Smiley Raglan Sweater $49 or our Run Smiley Tech Shirt with thumbholes $48! The Run Smiley Raglan is a comfy lifestyle top that can be worn off-the-shoulder anytime anywhere! The Run Smiley Tech shirt was made to perform! Wear it on a run, to the gym, or on race day!

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Click here to SHOP


Gifts under $75.00

Our best-selling necklaces are definitely our disc pendants. We offer them at $72 with a chain and they include FREE engraving! You can personalize the back of these pendants with a special date, time, initials, or short word or name! Choose between "run.", 13.1 Half Marathon or Roman Numeral XIII.I, 26.2 Marathon XXVI.II, and others as well! There is a sweet option to turn these necklaces into genuine diamond necklaces for an additional $30.

You can see the approximate size of the necklace on the model shown above. (She's a 400m runner like me!)


Cross Country Necklace $72

We recently featured these at the high school Cross Country State meet in Fresno, CA. It was a fun way to commemorate such a memorable event!

With Christmas approaching so soon, I hope this gift guide has given you some great ideas for that special runner in your life! I hope you enjoyed looking through our gift guide and look forward to playing "Santa's little elf" in my little shop over the next few weeks!

TTFN!

Sunny and the Endure Team


Running (and smiling!) around the Fair!

  • Oct 12 2015
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Hip hip hooray! It's fair time!

Last Friday I enjoying bringing my son to our local fair. It was an exciting experience for both him and I. What a fun day here in the Central Valley!

I grew up going to the Big Fresno Fair. It really is one of the biggest fairs in California and offers so many fun things for all ages!

My favorite thing to do at the fair is eating the fair cinnamon rolls. Of course, this was my first stop. I justified it by saying I was “carbo-loading” for my 20-miler the next day.

Our next stop was supposed to be carnival rides. But we arrived at around 11:00am an the big carnival rides weren’t open until 3:00pm. We were referred to the kiddie carnival area that opened up at noon. So I asked the gate keeper if we could sneak in to take some photos. He was so nice and let us in! This was fun and my little one was such a good sport about running around and doing a mini photo shoot. It was so fun for my little runner kid!

My little happy runner.

After playing around at the kiddie carnival, I stopped to get my second favorite fair snack, parmesan “elote”, corn with lime, chili powder, and parmesan cheese! It was delicious and a nice addition to my “carbo-loading” ;)

Our next stop was the Gem and Mineral exhibit. As a child, I remember going to this exact exhibit and getting so excited about polished rocks and gemstones. I truly believe that this experience helped spark my love for gems and jewelry. I remember choosing a rock for them to cut in half and this time, my son got to choose one for himself! He told me, I want this one! He handed it to the guy behind the counter and I gave him money to pay. I also showed him the other examples of the sliced geodes and he got excited to see what was inside of the rock he chose. We watched the man cut it open and he was so excited to look inside. Look at the pure joy on his face.

Next stop was the horse races. We enjoyed watching the horses prance around and prepare for their races and chose who would win based on the color of their numbers and the silliness of their names.

In the Central Valley, the Fresno Fair marks the beginning of the holidays. In a few weeks, Halloween will be here, then Thanksgiving and Turkey trot time, and then Christmas will be here soon!

I am so glad to have had shared these precious moments with my little one before all of the holiday craziness starts in the upcoming weeks! I hope all of your have a chance to enjoy your local fairs and cherish the special times you share with your loved ones!

Oh! AND..if you love his shirt, you can get it here --> Run Happy Face Kids Tee

If you want to match him we have adult sizes too! --> Endure Tees

Two weeks until Boston

  • Apr 7 2014
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It's been three years since I visited Boston for the Boston Marathon Expo. In 2011 Endure was a little more than two years old and I brought my Dad with me as my engraver and to help me with the show. I also have a friend named Emily who lives there who helped me at my booth. Emily and I ran hurdles together in college and she moved to Boston for her job. The next year, 2012, I didn't go to Boston because I was 6 months pregnant with my son. Last year, in 2013, I didn't go to Boston because I was trying my hardest not to travel to too many far away shows and be away from my son. It was a good thing I decided to skip Boston last year and most of us know why. http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/us/boston-marathon-explosions/

Even though I wasn't there I received numerous messages asking if I was there and I even received voicemails asking if I were able to comment for an interview. When I first heard the news I immediately thought of my friends that I knew that were in the area. I texted Emily and she had been updated me and told me that she was okay. Another friend of mine, Fernando Cabada, had already finished running the race and also kept everyone informed of his status. Luckily none of my friends were hurt that day. For many others this was not the case.

I recently took Endure to another small town show in Central California, the Modesto Marathon. My sister and I met a super sweet lady who came by and I was very excited about the engraving she had requested. She wanted one of her pendants to say, "Boston" and the other to have the date of the 2015 Boston Marathon written on the back. I was glad to engrave this for her and asked her if she had ever run Boston before and she we both shared our stories of how we both felt that day. I wasn't prepared to hear her story as the tragedy was still very much a part of her life. Two people that she knew were badly hurt and were still being treated for their injuries. This was not the first time my sister and I have been brought to tears at hearing a story on tour and it was definitely one that we will never forget.

In a week from tomorrow it will have been one year since this horrible tragedy. For those who have been affected and who are still being affected by this horrible act of evil, please know that you continue to be in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our prayers. For those who are running the Boston Marathon in two weeks from today, we hope you show the world what it means to persevere, to prevail, to fight, to press on, to ENDURE.

Emily, Sunny, and Cheri in Nevada circa 2005

Rain, Rain, Come Again Another Day!

  • Jan 30 2014
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Today it rained for the first time in a long time. At first I was excited, then I reminded myself that I had scheduled a photo shoot for this afternoon. I contacted my photographer and one of my friends who was supposed to model for me and told them we might need to reschedule. Edward Yung, my photographer, reassured me that we could still shoot even if it was raining. He got me thinking about photos in the rain and I started getting excited. How often do you have the opportunity to have a photo shoot in the rain, and a photographer who is willing to do it? I started brainstorming ideas for the shoot but once the afternoon came closer, the downpour of rain started to turn to a drizzle. When the time came for our shoot, the rain had stopped completely. So now I've got some fun ideas for a photo shoot in the rain, but no rain to shoot in! Oh well, maybe another day!

Edward did take some fun pictures of my friend/fitness model, Chelsea, and I at the track on our old stomping grounds, Veterans Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High School. She and I ran together in high school and nowadays we try to make it a point to do regular workouts on the track to get some speed work in. While we were out there we saw some of our former coaches. Every time I see them it makes me feel like that little lost teenager who didn't know where the world was going to take her and here I am now, over ten years later, taking photos of some of my t-shirt designs on the very same track.

I am so excited to see how the photos turned out. Chelsea is such a beautiful subject to photograph, and Edward does such a great job especially with how picky I am.

Thank you for reading my blog post and stay tuned for the new pics!

Ready, Set, Go!

  • Jan 9 2014
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Hello Endure Friends! I'm finally posting a blog! I am super excited about 2014 with so many more events planned than last year. Next week we leave for the Tink show in Anaheim and I can't wait to meet some of our followers at the three-day expo!

The title of this blog post is inspired my son's early enthusiasm for racing. When he and I hit the track he is my mini race official, I say "ready, set..." and his little 18-month-old voice says "Go!"

So here we go...