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STEVE MUNN '85

STEVE MUNN '85

Steve is the President of JanSport, the gear brand for backpacks, messenger bags, and collegiate apparel. JanSport is the global market leader in the daypack category, and is a domestic leader in the collegiate apparel business. The company is headquartered in San Leandro, CA.

1. What's new in the design of daypacks?

Daypacks are about people on the go, whether that be on the trail, in an urban environment, or on a campus.  "What's new" is driven by what people are carrying, where they're going, and how they want to carry their "stuff."  So we're seeing a shift to bags that accommodate laptops, are easy to get through airport security, and/or easily fit eco-friendly water bottles.  Functionality of the bags reflect today's culture.

Backpacks are also a vehicle for expressing one's style, just as a pair of jeans or shoes would be. Current and upcoming design reflects contemporary youth culture. JanSport in the 60's was just a small outdoor bag company. In the early 70's, the University of Washington Bookstore began carrying the bags as students liked the outdoor styling and how they could carry their books while keeping them dry.  Backpacks became a part of the student uniform, and since then, design influence has picked up on cues that range from outdoor to action sports. Today, we're seeing consumers make a strong shift to authentic-heritage designs, as well as bags that allow self-expression.

2. What are some emerging markets for JanSport?

The majority of our markets returned to growth in 2010, while our biggest percentage growth came from Asia.  We expect that to continue for several years. The shops and streets of China are every bit as dynamic for a brand marketer as reported.  

3. How has your earth sciences studies influenced your career?

Earth sciences teaches one how to make observations.  I still work out of a "Field Notebook" most days. Earth sciences also teaches one how to take what you "can see" at the surface and interpret what you "believe to be going on" below the surface.  Not a lot different from most days in the business world . . .

Special thanks to the geology department of the 80's-  Jahns, Van Andel, Rich, Ingle, Elizabeth, Liou, LaRue, Coleman, Mahood . . .