GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – In my 15 years of interviewing people for these Newsmakers segments, I can’t recall introducing someone who has had a more versatile career.
Kris Britton is the CEO of Lucky Dog Volleyball, a lifestyle clothing company based in Greensboro. Under his leadership, Lucky Dog got lucky. He was awarded a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to be the official championship event merchandiser for USA Volleyball.
“So what we do is design the merchandise that they (the players and the rest) would buy in the pro store at championship events,” Britton told me. “USA Volleyball hosts four major championships a year, and we’re the merchandiser. “
The company offers a wide range of products: from t-shirts to sweatshirts. Each is decorated with themes related to volleyball.
Welcome to the last chapter in Britton’s life.
And there are several chapters: graduate from Parkland High School (Winston-Salem), undergraduate degree from Appalachian State, two masters from Wake Forest, police officer, middle linebacker of a semi-women’s football team. pro, teacher / trainer / administrator of a public school, assistant university professor, motivation coach and speaker.
Did I miss something? Probably. It is difficult to follow all of this. But through everything listed above, there is one common thread: love for young people.
Looking back through the WGHP archives, I found an article I recounted that featured Britton who ran the High Point Police Department’s Summer Academy for At-Risk Youth.
I also found a track our sports team did on the Dudley High School (Greensboro) girls’ basketball team in 2009. They won the North Carolina State 3A Championship that year. . His trainer: Kris Britton. It was part of her nearly 10-year career as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Guilford County school system.
Towards the end of this period (in 2014), she was approached by a good friend, Maria Byers, whom she has known since her childhood in Winston-Salem. Byers asked Britton to become CEO of Byers’ company, Lucky Dog Volleyball. Britton has been there ever since.
She says her teaching and coaching skills have really helped while spending time on the learning curve of business leaders and “coaching” a different kind of team.
“I don’t allow them to call me their boss,” she said. “I am not their boss. I have no interest in telling people what to do. And so I hire people to tell me what to do. I hire them for their expertise.
But no expertise could have prepared Britton and his team for the downfall of Lucky Dog’s business during the pandemic. The company survived thanks to government assistance.
But then came the racial and social unrest after the death of George Floyd. Britton felt she needed to join with other corporate CEOs in issuing a statement condemning racism.
“As I was writing this statement, it occurred to me that the statement would be absolutely everything that, as an individual, I believed and subscribed to,” she told me. . “But I couldn’t tell if the people who worked on my team felt the same way.”
So she got her Lucky Dog team together once a week for what has become “racing cats”. Everyone was invited to share and shared their feelings about the breed. She said the discussions were frank but effective.
They’ve even led to a new line of “social justice clothing” that Lucky Dog hopes to launch on their website soon. The clothes feature letters and screen-printed images that recognize, among other things, the 100e anniversary of the Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa. It also contains inspiring messages on equality and justice.
Lucky Dog has also changed his conversation with his suppliers and other business partners.
“We ask them: what are your race policies? So you’re talking about race around here? Do you have something in place to ensure that you are actively inclusive? And you know, at first they look at me like, ‘What has that got to do with screen printing? »», She declared.
Britton believes everyone needs to have these conversations for race relations in this country to improve.
“We have to be brave enough. But we also need to create safe spaces for these conversations to take place, ”she said.
She says it’s also important to be “anti-racist” instead of “non-racist”. “Not racist,” she says, means you’re just saying something and not doing anything to solve the problem. “Anti-racist” means that you are actively working against racism by having, among other things, these discussions.
It looks like we can add “the social justice advocate” to this long list of accomplishments.
For more information on Britton’s company, Lucky Dog Volleyball, click here.
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