Ruthie Davis '80 Speaks at Graduation
The Island welcomes Ruthie Davis ’80 as the 2011 Commencement Speaker. A Loomis Chaffee alumna, shoe designer, and inspirational leader in the workplace, Davis shared her story of success in a competitive business world, as well as emphasized the importance of following one’s passions and dreams.
An active member of the Loomis Chaffee community, Davis’s high school experiences allowed her to explore her talents and develop her enthusiasm for working with and leading others. While on The Island, Davis played field hockey, tennis, and skied on the boys’ ski team. She said, “Sports were my main focus at LC and my favorite memories are of my sports teams and my coaches.” Davis’s fondness for and dedication to the teams and activities at Loomis Chaffee served as the basis for her future career. “The teams really taught me how to work together with a group for a common goal. As an entrepreneur, it is all about working together with a team to execute the vision. It’s also important for the team to be fired up and excited about what we are trying to do, and I like being the cheerleader,” she said. As Editor-in-Chief of The Confluence during her senior year, Davis further honed her leadership skills and creativity. “The experience of working with a team of students to design, develop, layout, and produce the yearbook for the student population was in some ways a foreshadowing of what I would become. As a shoe designer and brand president, what I do is start with an idea and then proceed to design and sketch, develop, prototype and sample,” Davis said.
After graduating from Loomis Chaffee in 1980, Davis studied at Bowdoin College, receiving her Bachelor of Liberal Arts in the Visual Arts and English literature. She continued her studies at Babson Graduate School of Business, earning an MBA in Entrepreneurship that contributed to her success as a businesswoman.
Davis began her fashion career as a Cool Hunter for Reebok, responsible for making predictions about and tracking changes to fashion trends. Quickly making her mark at Reebok, Davis became Director of the Classic Division, where she launched Classic Derivatives, a series of more fashion-forward and novel versions of the traditional Reebok white sneaker. Davis went on to become the vice president of design and marketing at UGG Australia in California, where she updated the style of the typical sheepskin, comfy boots, as well as launched an intense marketing campaign. Davis also held the same position for Tommy Hilfiger women’s footwear and launched a second line, called Tommy Girl Shoes, a series of shoes designs that appealed to younger consumers.
The marketing genius and budding fashionista used her experience to launch her own brand in 2006, the RUTHIE DAVIS ® brand. Designing shoes that incorporated her personal style with components of modernism, minimalism and glamour, Davis’s shoes use recent technology to create unique architectural designs that definitely make her masterpieces stand out on the shelves. The official Ruthie Davis web site describes her creations as crosses between fashion and art that truly epitomize the phrase, “futuristic chic.” Davis said, “The highlight of my career is that I am doing something I am passionate about… I have always followed what I was passionate about and have worked really hard to be able to realize my passions and dreams. And the best part is that my passion makes people happy, too! Who doesn’t enjoy putting on a new pair of cool shoes?” Davis enjoys hearing feedback from girls who buy and wear her shoes because the tweets and wall posts demonstrate that her work is worthwhile and appreciated.
In her Commencement speech, Davis emphasized the importance for the graduates to be “their own best assets.” She said, “They need to look at themselves and dig deep and think about what they are passionate about, what gets them out of bed in the morning. It’s also important for each of them to try and realize how they are each unique and special and to embrace and develop that uniqueness.”
Because of her hard work and success in a business dominated by men, Davis embodies the ideal of the strong, self-reliant woman. As her web site notes, when she speaks publicly, Davis “encourages her audiences to work hard, dream big, and to never compromise themselves as women.” Davis said, “To this day, ’girl power’ is a big part of who I am and what the ’Ruthie Davis’ brand stands for.” Davis discussed the most important lesson she has learned, saying, “anything is possible in life if YOU believe in it and believe in your abilities to do it… This also means that you have to be an expert and very well-versed and trained and knowledgeable about whatever it is you set out to do… You just can’t get down when things don’t happen overnight. There are always going to be bad days. You can’t take things too personally when [they] go wrong; it has to somehow make you work harder.”
Through her speech, Davis hoped to remind the Class of 2011 that “you don’t fail, you just keep evolving and learning and growing.”