We Design: People. Practice. Progress.

Jocelyn Rice

Athletic & Outdoor Apparel Designer

Jocelyn Rice is an outdoor apparel designer whose fundamental design philosophy is paving the way for a more equitable industry.

Photos courtesy of Jocelyn Rice

I’m proud of getting to a point in my career where I can help lift others up and mentor them.

Jocelyn Rice

Jocelyn has worked at many companies, including Columbia Sportswear, Nike, and Eddie Bauer, and has won multiple awards for her designs, which fall everywhere between casual day clothes to intense outdoor adventure gear. While she grew up in many different cities, she is based in Portland, Oregon and has spent much of her life there. Her interest in design in collaboration with history and culture began in her college African American History class. It was during a lesson on the Harlem Renaissance that she profoundly felt and understood the “collective certainty powered by art and design.”

After completing her bachelor of arts in Fashion/Apparel Design at The Arts Institute, Jocelyn interned at various small Portland-based fashion consultants and boutiques. She moved between many high level companies until landing on Columbia, where she designed a global line for Hunting and Fishing. Currently, she is one of Columbia’s Global Women’s Sportswear Designers and a strong advocate for Black and Brown women in the outdoor industry and for informing modern design with racial equity work. When designing, she asks four questions: “What is the origin story of the activity? What are the social, economic and environmental barriers that exist for users? How can we help the user thrive? What is the environmental and social impact of the design?” By seeking these answers, Jocelyn pioneers a new design philosophy that participates with the community to create amazing gear for all.

PErsonal History

Foundation and Family

“I come from a family of incredibly strong women. My mother has raised five women on her own. She nurtured us, elevated us, empowered us, and protected us. She did this on her own, working multiple jobs and going to school to be a pediatric oncology nurse. She is at the center of our circle. I also come from one of Eugene, [Oregon’s] founding Black families. My father’s side…is a testament to the fortitude and grace of many African American families demonstrated during some of our state’s bleakest times. They paved the way when there weren’t a whole lot of people who looked like them around here. They came here to live, to build community, and most importantly to thrive in that community.”

A Journey Through the Industry

“Once I graduated from design school, I worked retail for quite some time before landing an internship with True Collaborative Fashion, a Portland-based showroom that represents and consults independent fashion designers and brands. I then went on to work with Emily Baker of Sword and Fern, where I learned how to run a boutique/art space with a focus on art, landscape, and jewelry design. Eventually I landed a job at Nike, then Columbia Sportswear as a design intern. From there I was hired on as an Associate Designer for Backcountry Ski. I moved into tech design, then fit engineering at Columbia before going over to Eddie Bauer as the technical women’s outerwear designer. I eventually made my way back to Columbia where I have designed men’s and women’s outerwear for outlets, the global line for men’s and women’s hunting and fishing, and most recently have moved into the role of Global Designer of Women’s Sportswear.

While working with Eddie Bauer, Jocelyn designed a ‘for women by women’ technical outerwear collection. One of the jackets was featured in Outside Online Magazine’s 2017 Best Jackets of the Year.
Visual notes (by Katie Lei) of a brainstorming session with Jocelyn Rice.
Rebuilding the Broken Ladder

“Every step we take as Black and Brown women up that ladder in the outdoor industry has a broken rung. The steps for us are not parallel or level. They are not uniformly spaced. Our ladder has structural defects, such as, but not limited to, broken or missing rungs, broken or split rails, and corroded components. So how do you find a way? How do you empower yourself, protect yourself, and trust yourself in order to climb? The following words have guided me in ways that I have never dreamt possible. They gave me fluidity, knowledge, pride, hope, and ingenuity: Words make worlds: Acknowledge the power you speak. Set intention. Speak it into existence. Bloom where you are planted: Plant seeds. Establish work. Harvest. Follow your compass: Know where you are going and where you came from. Trust your intuition. Meditate/Reflect.

One of the most inspiring moments in my design career was attending the Black In Design Conference. The keynotes, the breakouts, the panels, the events were life affirming. Phil Freelon gave a keynote speech that reminded us art is the most powerful force in the universe, and the best way to predict the future is to create it. Toni Griffin talked about how to deepen the work we do as designers. How it’s not just about equity, it’s about disrupting the language about what we want and need, getting specific. Kenneth Bailey told us to find new levers to pull to rewrite our design disciplines cultures. I took away lessons on design guidelines and perceptions, about the concept development process, and how to repurpose and reimagine the future. It challenged me to design for the possible.

Jocelyn Rice

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We Design

People. Practice. Progress.