'Women in Sports' Profile: Diana Mardsen of Aries Apparel
Diana Mardsen started Aries Apparel after noticing a need for sport-specific apparel for young girls.
Diana Mardsen started Aries Apparel after noticing a need for sport-specific apparel for young girls.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Part of a series

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. 

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event.

Diana Mardsen, Aries Apparel
Owner/President/General Manager

College attended: 

  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • University of Oregon

College major: 

  • Communications major
  • Marketing minor

Current position: Owner, President and General Manager of Aries Apparel

Years in current position: Seven

Primary job responsibilities: My responsibilities include overseeing day to day retail operations of all employees, overall business management including accounting, all marketing planning and execution including traditional and social media, in-store promotion, website and ecommerce management, all HR functions and strategic planning.

Things I enjoy most about my job: I enjoy the variety of tasks and challenges I have in my job and the reward for fulfilling the mission of my business to serve female athletes.

First job in the sports industry: This is it!

Previous jobs in the sports industry: None, unless you count being a mom on the sidelines watching my daughters compete.

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Cindy Tortorici, owner of The Link. Cindy is a retail professional and inspirational coach. In 2008 I was new as a business owner and manager and Cindy helped me with retail knowledge and inspired me to have a clear vision and voice and to use my community.

Most influential person in my early professional development: Dave Chin, a business coach, was influential in my early professional retail development. Dave helped me put in place a great foundation for my business and he taught me the importance of good systems and people management.

How I got involved in my professional career: I raised two daughters playing sports and as they got older it became clear to me that the retail world was wholly focused on the boy side of the sports business and there was a definite need for a retail sporting goods store for girls and women as their wants and needs are different than boys. I did some significant research that supported my view, created a business plan, got financing through the SBA and opened my first store in 2008.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: No one was, or is, doing what I'm doing, which is focusing on the retail side of sport-specific girls sports. We've had tremendous support from our vendors but we had to build credibility starting from scratch. I couldn't follow in anyone's footsteps, we've had to create our own.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: My employment background, prior to my current professional career owning a girls sports store, gave me a background in many of my day-to-day functions today. I had some accounting, sales and promotions experience in previous jobs. I use all these skills, and a few more, in my work every day. I also am a problem solver by nature which helps me figure out how to get things done.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: I would go a little deeper than just the 101 classes in business management and get to know my professors better. It's amazing how much of college really does stick with you when you need to call upon your education in the real world.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: My advice would be to recognize and accept the fact that, with a few exceptions, in every aspect of the sports world, females don't have the clout or respect that males do. There are women in every part of the sports world competing, managing, promoting, broadcasting, but it is an industry that historically has been dominated by men and still for the most part is. You won't change that and you need to learn to work within that environment and be creative in how to be successful.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? I'd have to say the Dalai Lama. I think spending one day with him would help me have a better view of the worldly impact of my actions and help me understand and value simple thoughts and processes.

Favorite sports team: The Oregon Ducks  -- even without Marcus Mariota. ;o)

Favorite athlete: Three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty Mae Treanor. Undeniably one of the greatest volleyball players who's played the game and additionally she is a great person, full of humility and dedicated to empowering young girls in life as well as on the court.

Most memorable sports-related moment: Attending the BCS football championship game when the Ducks played Auburn in 2011. Even though we lost a very close game, it was one of the top sports events of my life with all the camaraderie between the teams and fans and the general excitement of the game. Additionally I've had many, many memorable sports-related moments over the years watching my daughters successfully compete on many sports playing fields.