Leading Lady: Shannon Washburn President Of Shinola

BY Taylor Rebhan

“I played basketball my whole life—from fourth grade through high school. I’ve always loved being a team player,” says Shannon.

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She had two state championships under her belt and a fierce love for sports, but another passion captured Shannon’s attention during her studies: fashion. While she didn’t end up on the courts, she still—in a way—gets the “coach” title, helping rally teams within Shinola as the newly named president.

“There’s a real sense of excitement and renewed energy from my point of view and I think that exuberance and that belief in what we’re doing here is what’s really going to carry us forward,” she says. “We have to get strategic and above all, we have to execute at a level that’s deserving of the Shinola brand.”

Working most of her career in retail and then transitioning to the product development side and beyond, Shannon has garnered experience in many various aspects of business over the course of her career, drawing inspiration from women she saw in leadership roles along the way.

“They were extremely strong and focused,” she says. “They had a sense of themselves, but they also allowed the team to take ownership.”

It’s that guidance and leadership that Shannon says helped her learn how to manage.

“Moving into a management role, it’s about the big picture, but it’s really about the people who are going to get the job done and being present and attentive to your team,” she says. “Everyone likes to have a clear idea of the expectations—and when they do, they are able to execute at a much higher level.”

Before Shinola, Shannon was a force in the retail world, becoming a buyer for Dillard’s and then moving to Fossil where she stayed for 14 years.

“I was able to do a lot of really cool things. I started out in sales, managed the product development team for 10 years and then my last role was managing an international business—it allowed me the opportunity to travel globally and learn a lot,” says Shannon.

Then in 2012, an unexpected opportunity sprouted in Detroit.

“I really wanted to do something I was passionate about. I was excited about the opportunity and working with a great group of people,” she says.

Shannon joined the watch product development team at Shinola, bringing a wealth of experience with her.

She eventually moved to the Detroit area in June of 2015, calling it the “best move” she’s ever made.

She loves the city, particularly when she’s spending time on the weekend at Grey Ghost sipping on a Better Luck Tomorrow cocktail or hanging out at Eastern Market. It’s the growing momentum that keeps her fascinated.

“I love that there is so much going on right now in the city of Detroit,” she says.

During the week, she’s laser-focused, taking time in the early morning hours to review email and the previous day’s sales at a relaxed pace before the workday begins.

“It’s about being in the moment,” she says. “When I take that 30 minutes to breathe, my days are better when I get to the office.”

When she’s not working, don’t be surprised if you find Shannon on a quest for the best Spanish coffee in metro Detroit, volunteering at Detroit schools or spending time with her family and friends. She says they are the people who helped her rise to success in her career. 

“It’s their support that’s helped me get here, they’ve made a huge impact on my life,” Shannon says.

Despite her many successes, there is still a major opportunity ahead: the future of Shinola. For that, Shannon says she has a game plan.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ve got the right people, we’ve got a vision and now we just have to get it done.”

Spoken like a true coach.


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