Forget celebrity fads and competing companies’ new lines of merchandise. When Jesse Daniels designs, his goal is to set the trends not imitate them.
“It doesn’t really matter what happens to be ‘in’ at the moment,” said Daniels, a lead designer at Puma in Boston. “I don’t consider what the stars are wearing—I don’t even own a TV! The demands and needs of our consumers are what matters. At Puma, we do extensive market research, which involves traveling and meeting people from all around the world to determine which factors are influencing buying decisions.”
Daniels spends about half of his time designing Puma’s basketball category as well as products for training and performance sports. The other half of his time is spent working on product development, traveling and establishing collaborations with hip hot artists, such as Ludacris and LL Cool J. He travels regularly to countries in Europe and Asia.
“My job is multi-faceted,” explained Daniels. “It includes everything—research, conceptualization, design, development, engineering and even sales. So, it has been quite an interesting experience. Plus, it’s fulfilling to be able to provide products that people like.”
Currently, Daniels is working on footwear and apparel for spring 2010. His basketball line will be launched in the Asian market during the fall of 2008 as part of a venture in China, Taiwan and Japan.
Daniels developed the discipline necessary to become successful in his field as a student at CCS. He also learned the value of getting work out into the public eye.
“The art scene in Detroit is filled with passionate people,” Daniels said. “Cathy Karry (director of the College’s Career Services) was a tremendous help to me. She was always encouraging us to enter our work in competitions and share our designs with professionals outside of the College. At the time I did not realize how important that was.”