Nike’s Foregoing Lead Designer Raised $7 Million for his Startup, Super Heroic
Jason Mayden was the first African-American to get a design internship at Nike.
Before building Super Heroic, Mayden created an extraordinary resume for himself. While growing up in Chicago, Mayden learned how to deal with adversity and precipitous change. Violence is a constant occurrence in Chicago, especially on the South Side, so it speaks to Mayden’s character for never falling victim to peer pressures.
“There are several things that I fundamentally believe that are true in terms of difficulty and what it gives you. For me, being born on the South Side of Chicago in a blue-collared environment, you don’t make excuses for yourself,” said Mayden in an Impact Theory interview.
Instead, he worked hard on his academics and became the first African-American to receive a design internship at Nike. Eventually, the designer moved up within the company and generated shoes for Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Eminem.
“You have to acknowledge that change is a part of life. You grow up, you leave home, you change addresses, you change jobs, change is a constant theme in our existence. The sooner you become comfortable with that concept, you’re free,” said Mayden.
Also, Mayden’s dreams came true when he was able to design shoes and apparel for the Jordan Brand. Probably the most awarding accomplishment Mayden in the 13 years working at Nike was redesigning “Monarch,” the highest selling shoe in the company’s history.
The hard work paid off for Mayden because it led to the Senior Design Global Director position with the Jordan Brand. However, in 2014, Mayden left Nike because he wanted to focus on his family.
“My son got out of the shower. He was getting dressed, staring at himself in the mirror. I looked at his face, and I saw a face of defeat. I asked him why . . . he said, ‘I don’t love who I am,’” said Mayden, according to Co. Design.
Mayden realized that his 10-year-old son’s mental and physical health was more important than his career. So he devoted his time and money to find the reason for his son’s erratic weight gain. Mayden thought his family was participating in a healthy lifestyle, but his son was having trouble sleeping and breathing.
As a result, Mayden studied nutrition, GMO products, and how his family consumes food. Once he learned everything he could about practicing healthy eating habits and attending several doctor visits, Mayden discovered that his son was diagnosed with food allergies, according to Co. Design.
Mayden went six months without a job but decided to go back to work mid-June 2014. From that point on, he served on a few advisory board, held high positions with established companies, and made a name for himself in Silicon Valley. Now, Mayden is ready to build his own legacy.
“There is no such thing as anyone starting life behind the start line. I look at myself as being equal to everyone I’m in a room with and the separation between where I want to go and where I am is my work ethic,” said Mayden.
In 2016, Mayden co-founded Super Heroic with marketing specialist Harshal Sisodia to keep children physically active and capture their imagination with appealing products.
Super Heroic was created through disruptive innovation and its business model attracted Magic Johnson Enterprises. So NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson cosigned the investment and believes in Mayden’s vision.