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Heels & Helmets founder Shavannia Williams talks NFL Fashion, working in sports and more!

02.15.2012 / Blog Posts Fashion WOW Interview Series

If you visited nfl.com/women at all this season, there's a good chance you'll recognize WOW's latest interviewee.

If there's anyone that lives and breathes sports - it's Shavannia Williams. She has worked for numerous professional sports teams, runs her own football blog and program for female fans - Heels & Helmets - and donned the latest in female fan apparel more than once throughout the 2011 football season, as evidenced in the photo above!

WOW sat down with the DC local to talk about the female fan's rise in football, starting her own company, giving back and more...

Tell us a little bit about your experience within sports and starting your own blog, Heels & Helmets.

I grew up in a small town in West Michigan with a sister, brother and several cousins in my age group. We played different sports at our homes and the YMCA. We also participated in organized sports through school and youth leagues. I did not become accomplished at a particular sport, but got involved with basketball, cheerleading, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and track growing up. Most of these activities were a fun source of exercise which I think is important for youth.

In college, I attended my first football game at Michigan Stadium and got into football. I became really interested in the use of sports as a marketing tool. After interning for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, I knew that I wanted to concentrate in Sports Marketing. While in college I worked for Michigan Football, University of Michigan Athletics and did an internship with Brunswick Indoor Recreation Group. Since college, I have had the opportunity to work in various sales and marketing roles with teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL and WNBA. I also worked on the PR committee for a NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Starting Heels & Helmets has been so much fun. It affords me the opportunity to write about a topic I love and be a resource for women. It is interesting that what began as a hobby (or therapy for a new small business owner in a tough economy) has grown into a full program helping ladies connect and supporting causes such as women’s shelters, youth health and organizations like International Lifeline Fund, which works to bring clean water and fuel efficient stoves to remote areas in Africa while helping women develop micro-enterprises. The subject has resonated so much with women. Our readers have asked us to explain different sports, so we are now going to expand the conversation to other sports.

WOW and Heels & Helmets are proof to the female fan’s rise in football. Do you think this rise will continue?

I have witnessed the shift from a sales standpoint (increase in the number of women purchasing tickets to NFL events) and the resources the NFL is putting behind attracting and servicing their female fan base. From a media perspective, there are also more women covering football. I think that the interest will continue to grow among women and we will see more companies targeted at women leveraging the NFL to reach them. I also think that it will change the environment at NFL games and more of the ancillary events will be geared towards women.

How was it participating in the NFL Rivalry Series Campaign?

It was a really fun and unique experience. I had fun meeting the other ladies and giving ideas on the styling. I was never a fan of the pink and white jerseys and complained for years that I never wanted to wear those box cut jerseys. While I was at the Detroit Lions, I remember participating in a meeting about the layout of the retail space. We were discussing low women’s apparel sales and there was a suggestion to move the ladies apparel to a different area in the store. At that time they were in the display windows and close to the chairs. I thought, I pass this store every day and even as staff, I am not motivated to purchase anything because it does not fit me. Furthermore, if I want to show Lions pride, I will rock Honolulu blue and silver, not pink. In my opinion, placement was not the problem, the product was. With my professional background, it was very nice to be part of the campaign showcasing that women can really show their team pride in a feminine style!

You’re very familiar with DC - through your current work at SW group and previous work with Washington Sports & Entertainment – what are your favorite things to do?

I love spending time on the National Mall. I have been in this area for over 13 years and I still feel a great sense of pride every time I pass the Capitol and National Monument. My favorite area is the Tidal Basin looking at the Jefferson Memorial. I do a lot of my writing there.

One of favorite parts of the city to go out are the 14th and U St Corridors. There are several restaurants with different types of cuisines all within a couple of blocks of each other. The neighborhood also has some small places like Marvin’s and Lounge of III that I go to for good music and a cool vibe. I like a laid back lounge scene. A couple of my favorite spots are Le Bar and CoCo Sala.

What else do you like to do in your free time?

I am fortunate that many of the things that I enjoy doing such as designing, entertaining, planning events and writing, I do professionally. In addition to that, I enjoying baking and cooking (as a marketing professional, of course I am all into the presentation!). I also like to travel and explore different cultures. I like architectural design and the process to transform spaces. If I was not in marketing, I would be an architect. I renovate residential properties in DC mixing traditional structures with contemporary interiors. DC has a lot of history and there are several tours that take you through the history and homes of the neighborhoods.

When I take real down time, I like getting together with my family for vacations. I have a close family and we have a lot of fun with game nights that range from board games to karaoke to Xbox competitions. It gets competitive, but we have a lot of laughs! I love time with my baby sister, nieces and nephews. They energize me and keep me cool.

I am also hands on with my work in education. I support inner city charter schools and directly work with students as a volunteer tutor in high school subjects.

Any advice for our young female professionals in WOW?

Do not limit yourself. Whether you want to grow in your organization or start your own business, think unconventionally, focus on results and establish yourself as a resource. Do not be afraid of change; it is inevitable and helps you grow.

Thanks for talking with us Shavannia!

WOW MEMBERS: Looking to learn more about football? Most of the Heels & Helmets workshops are for organizations, however readers can contact Shavannia at www.heelsandhelmets.com to schedule a workshop for their organization or a group of girlfriends.

You can also follow Shavannia and Heels & Helmets on Twitter at: @heelsandhelmets and @MzGridiron.

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