While many of us struggled with defining a clear career path, especially at a young age, Alycia Scott knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: “I’ve always wanted to be a designer. I started sewing at the age of 8, and worked on patternmaking and draping by making my own clothes and evening wear for myself and my friends in high-school”, shared Scott in a recent interview with Fairygodboss.
Today, Scott oversees the design direction at DICK’S Sporting Goods as Director of Athletic Apparel Design. When she joined the company nine years ago, Scott knew it was the perfect fit — she was able to combine her love for designing with sports and fitness (two things she cared about).
Here, Scott tells us how she’s developed her dream job at the retail giant and what inspires her work. She also shares some tips around how to lead a team of creatives and how to embrace opportunities when they arise. Keep reading for her insights.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I joined Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2011 as the Designer for Reebok Women’s Apparel. From there, I was promoted to Senior designer when I took on the added responsibility of designing and launching Calia by Carrie Underwood in 2014. In 2018, I took on the role I currently hold as Director of Athletic Apparel Design.
How did you get your start working in design/product development?
I’ve always wanted to be a designer. I started sewing at the age of 8, and worked on patternmaking and draping by making my own clothes and evening wear for myself and my friends in high-school. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, I started my search for a job in design. My first job was working for a small junior’s clothing company that produced private label products for companies like Kohl’s, JCP and Macy’s. I had an incredible boss who taught me so much about the industry. I was able to be a part of the entire process, from ordering fabric and trims, designing the product, to participating in the fits. We made most of our product in LA and Brooklyn, which gave me the opportunity to see the production first-hand. This has helped me throughout my career to have a well rounded view of the entire process.
What first attracted you to work at DICK’s Sporting Goods?
Well, the most attractive aspect was that they were located in Pittsburgh! I grew up in the area, and even though I loved NYC, and all the opportunities it gave me, I dreamed of being able to be “home” and doing what I love. I also had been in the same area of the business for so long that I felt I needed to try something new and challenge myself. I had never designed athletic apparel, but had always loved sports and fitness, so it felt like the perfect fit. Sports had always played an important role in my life, and working for a company that supports them was very enticing.
Tell me a little about your role. What are your main priorities?
In my current role, I oversee the design direction for our women’s and girl’s vertical brands: Calia by Carrie Underwood, DSG Women’s & Girl’s, Lady Hagen, Slazenger and Prince. My main focus is to support my team by giving them clear design direction, and helping them execute in their designs. They do an amazing job working with their cross-functional team, but I am there to support them and ensure that their designs come to life. My favorite part of the job is brainstorming with my team. We have so many talented, smart, and fashionable women on our team, and I learn something new from them every day. My current role is not nearly as creative as my previous one, but I enjoy the fact that I’m able to (hopefully) help make their jobs easier. The fact that I was doing what they were doing not too long ago, helps me to understand their pain points and try and make things better.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job?
Well, in a pre-COVID world, I would have had to say the travel! Because of my job, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world. I have learned so much about other cultures and places because of my career. As a designer, we find inspiration in everything all around us. Being able to shop the streets of Stockholm at Christmas for the perfect cozy holiday sweater inspiration, or the small beach towns along the French riviera for the latest swim trends, the world around us provides so much inspiration. On one of our most recent trips, we were shopping in Paris, and found a beautiful scarf that inspired our entire color palette for one of our Calia collections.
Why is this work important to you personally?
I love that we are creating products that serve a purpose and help our athletes reach their full potential, whether it’s athletic apparel for children when they’re practicing their favorite sport, or a pair of tights that gives women the confidence they need to start their fitness journey.
Describe your leadership style. Are there specific strategies you’ve used that you’ve found particularly successful?
I try my hardest to listen to my team and be their voice. Every idea is important, sometimes the greatest ideas come from assistants or cross-functional partners who are able to see things from a different perspective. I also find it very important to give immediate feedback, which I think my team appreciates greatly. You are not able to improve if you are not aware of what needs to be improved.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
When I worked at Jones Jeanswear Group as a designer, before my Design Director resigned he told me to speak to our President and apply for the job. The thought had never even crossed my mind, I was young, and felt like I was not ready, but he gave me the courage I needed to give it a shot. I remember walking into our president’s office, sitting in front of her, and asking for the position — I almost fell off the chair when she offered me the job, with no hesitation. I learned so much in that role by stepping out of my comfort zone. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned how to manage, strategize, but most importantly, how to lead a team.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Never stop learning. You learn from everyone around you. Not only leadership, but also those that report into you and your partners. That was such an eye-opener for me. I always strive for perfection and I hate making mistakes. Having my boss and mentor give me the OK to not always be perfect, took some of the pressure off and gave me the ability to relax a little, to listen and learn from those around me.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in pursuing a career in design and/or product development?
Don’t give up! It is a difficult business to get into, but if you stay strong, and take any opportunities that come your way, it is worth it in the end. I always thought that I would be an evening wear/bridal designer, and never thought I would be working in athletic apparel, and I could not be happier. “All experience is good experience”. From working in retail, to volunteering at fashion shows, to going to the gym and seeing what the people in your class are wearing, all of that knowledge makes you better at what you do at the end of the day.
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