A top Nike vice president quit Monday amid swirling questions over her family’s role in the turbulent sneaker-reselling markets. Ann Hebert resigned as the head of Nike’s North American business just days after the company had defended her and asserted she had not violated any company policy.
Bloomberg Businessweek magazine reported Feb. 25 about her 19-year-old son, Joe Hebert, and his fast-growing sneaker company.
The article is packed with anecdotes about Joe Hebert’s exploits in the secondary sneaker market. His company, West Coast Streetwear, has figured out how to use technology and chutzpah to buy hot sneakers in bulk before the rest of the market. They routinely then resell the shoes at handsome profit margins.
The secondary sneaker market has become huge. It has the power to turn a disappointing shoe into a big seller. The big companies that actually design the products and get them built, like Nike and Adidas, seem to put up with it.
Joshua Hunt penned the original story for Bloomberg. He is no stranger to Nike. He wrote “The University of Nike,” a hard-hitting look at the close relationship between Nike co-founder Phil Knight and the University of Oregon.
“I didn’t set out to write another Nike story,” he told The Oregonian/OregonLive Monday. “I just knew there was something interesting going on in this exploding secondary sneaker market, so I set out in search of a character to tell that story and came across Joe.”
Hunt writes that one day on the phone with Joe Hebert he saw the name Ann Hebert on the caller ID. He did a little research and learned she was a Nike vice president.
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He eventually asked Joe Hebert about his mother. The young entrepreneur insisted that his mother was not at all involved and then stopped communicating with Hunt.
Hunt then went to Nike for comment. Sandra Carreon-John, a Nike spokeswoman, says Ann Hebert disclosed relevant information about West Coast Streetwear to Nike in 2018.
“There was no violation of company policy, privileged information or conflicts of interest, nor is there any commercial affiliation between WCS LLC and Nike, including the direct buying or selling of Nike products,” Carreon-John said.
Everything changed Monday. After more than 25 years with the company, Ann Hebert was out. She’d gotten a big promotion just eight months ago, becoming vice president and general manager of North American operations, one of Nike’s very top jobs.
In that role, Ann Hebert led sales, marketing, merchandising and other departments.
Reached for comment Monday, Nike’s Carreon-John said only that “Ann Hebert made the decision to resign from Nike.”
The story comes almost a month after Errol Andam, a former Nike marketing executive, was accused in federal court of fraud and money laundering while he worked for the company. He allegedly steered Nike work to a friend’s company that he secretly had an interest in.
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