Jennifer Ferguson

Handful CEO Gives Back Through Mentorship

Jennifer Ferguson is a handful. She’s had an active lifestyle from a young age and has been a fitness instructor for more than 20 years.

In her line of work, proper equipment is a necessity. She needed a versatile product—one she could wear to work or out on weekends with the family, but one that wouldn’t distract her during workouts.

So she decided to make her own. Ferguson is the founder and CEO of Handful, a women’s activewear brand known for its comfortable, practical, and flattering sports bras.

The company is dedicated to empowering and celebrating women, encouraging them to “grab life by the handful.” One important part of Handful’s brand is its “High Five”—fashion, function, feel, fun, and fight (against breast cancer).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferguson remains positive and is working hard with Handful’s retailers to enhance digital sales and direct-to-consumer channels. The company also empowers social media “amBADASSadors” to support their communities.

Ferguson connected with Ellen Schmidt Devlin, the cofounder of the University of Oregon’s Sports Product Management Program, and was amazed by the resources offered to its students.

The Portland, Oregon-based master’s program offers world-class professional development to the next generation of leaders in the sports and outdoor product industry, including product creation in the on-site Innovation Lab; cross-functional teamwork with peers from diverse backgrounds; and strategic learning about global business, the product cycle, sustainability, innovation, and more via curriculum and international site visits.

Impressed, Ferguson volunteered to join the SPM family. She has mentored, guided, and supported students since the program’s inception.

Ferguson believes that shared responsibilities are important in maintaining relationships, and she and her mentees lift each other up by discussing their different perspectives, experiences, stories, and resources.

She stresses the importance of celebrating small accomplishments and giving yourself permission to fail. Celebrating each marker on your journey will help you reach your milestone more effectively, she said.

Ferguson finds it rewarding to see her mentees strengthening themselves both personally and professionally and as they thrive after graduation.

“Always encourage yourself and tell yourself you can do it,” she advised.

—Krystal Yeh, Class of 2021