7/3/2018 Charlie Kindschi Celebration of Life on Friday, July 6th, 2018
Charlie Kindschi passed away at 10:06 am on July 2, 2018 the day after his 63rd birthday. He was completely peaceful, and has spent the last few days being Charlie, laughing and talking, s
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4/11/2018 Lisa (Weiss) Minkove
With the heaviest of hearts, we regret to announce the passing of our mother, Lisa Minkove. She courageously looked cancer right in the eye, never once gave up hope and was a shining example
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6/17/2015 Scott Clark Phillips
June 25, 1955 - June 10, 2015
Scott Clark Phillips, a resident of Tigard, Ore, passed away on June 10, 2015, in his home, comforted by loved ones. He had been tenacious in a struggle agai
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It's tempting to proclaim the idyll of Front Porch Classics a Seattle company making nostalgic board games that promote family connections in a harried modern world a metaphor for the mellowing of its first CEO, Helen Rockey (MBA 1980). But then, present company excepted, leisure has never really been her speed.
The woman who would earn the nickname "The Rocket" has known she wanted to build businesses almost from birth. She studied economics at the UW, then proceeded straight on to claim her MBA in 1980. After a career prologue at Boise Cascade, she went to work at Nike selling excess inventory, which turned out to be a great way to learn the business. In 11 years, Rockey's star rose quickly. She worked in sales, product and finally as general manager of accessories and graphics.
When she was recruited to lead Brooks Shoes, Rockey inherited a real fixer-upper. Multiple buyouts had decimated the once-strong brand, and Brooks shoes had become the cut-rate product you might find in a K-Mart. Rockey reorganized the company, and shifted to a limited line of high-end products for the serious amateur runner, "the best athletes money can't buy," she recalls, "because we didn't have any money."
After delivering Brooks to a dramatic resurgence, Rockey became CEO of Alabama-based Just For Feet, where she envisioned building an athletic superstore. But the company had mortal financial instability, and Rockey soon found herself negotiating bankruptcy and sell-off. "Once the slide started, I couldn't stop it," she says. "It was really exhausting. And disheartening."
She returned home to Seattle and took some time off, until Front Porch Classics came calling. "After coming off the brutal experience with Just For Feet, I just wanted to work with a small company, involved in consumer products, with people I like," she says. "I'm a simple gal."
Rockey has not-so-simple goals for the company, which she believes is poised for dramatic growth. She has broadened the selection of award-winning games on offer, deployed a sales force of independent reps and brokered non-traditional retail partnerships with Nordstrom, Orvis, National Geographic, LL Bean, Barnes & Noble and other "high-touch" channels.
Since her arrival, Front Porch has more than doubled its sales.
Of course, games are not all that Rockey is into these days. During her sabbatical, she also founded Wildbleu, a line of moisture-wicking sleepware for menopausal or pregnant women who have difficulty keeping cool and dry at night. The idea came to her while at Brooks, when women began clamoring for the promotional high-tech T-shirts that had been given to their marathoner husbands. Now the silky soft sleepwear is selling briskly online and in specialty stores.
Naturally, there are plans to expand both current ventures, which ensures that Rockey's life will continue to be crazy. But that's the way she likes it.
"What I learned when I took time off was that I love working. I love making products and selling them," she says. "You have an idea. Then you see a sketch or a sample. And then you show it at a tradeshow and later in a store. And later you see it in somebody's house, which is an awesome feeling. If I can do this for 50 more years, hallelujah."
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