Brand Champion of the Month - Jennifer Flickinger

Brand Champion of the Month

This month we recognize Jennifer Flickinger's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion.

Jennifer Flickinger

**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.** 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Washington in a town famous for its daffodil bulb fields. It really is beautiful there with the mountains and trees. I also lived in California for several years and really miss being able to drive to the beach.

But, I’ve spent the last 15 years making my home in Minnesota with my husband and our kids. I beg them every winter to move somewhere warmer but this is their home.

What three words would describe you and why?

A tad unorganized although I pretend I am not. I put things “away” all the time only I can never remember where “away” is. It drives my family crazy. I don’t like clutter, even if it is important clutter, so I tend hide the clutter and then it’s a lost cause trying to find it.

I don’t know a way to describe this - maybe good natured? I can take a joke, but also like to dish out some sarcasm. Life is better with a funny narrative. I don’t mind laughing at myself, as long as I can laugh with someone.

Learner. I will never stop. I waited until I had 2 kids in diapers, an elementary aged child, and a full time job, to finish my BS and Masters degrees. I love learning about new things, different cultures, religions, and people. I get on a topic and read up on it and then move on to the next.

Do you work another job in addition to Sword & Plough? If so, what job is that? What is it like to manage both responsibilities?

I work full time for a medical company, I volunteer several hours a month, and I have 3 kids who keep me incredibly busy. S&P doesn’t feel like a “responsibility” because it is easy to share a good story.

What made you decide to be a Sword & Plough Brand Champion? What is it about the products/brand you love?  

I loved the look of the bags and the message behind them hit home to me. My husband was (and always will be) a Marine and he has spent the past 6 years serving in the Army National Guard. Instead of being annoyed by some questions he and I have been asked, I realized it was more about lack of awareness. If the military is confusing to me, I can only imagine how confusing it is to people who have no ties to military life. The products speak for themselves, but they also open up a dialogue about what it means to serve, in whatever capacity that may be. The products are high quality and functional while still cool to look at. I love knowing that each product helps employ veterans, that they are made in the USA, and that we give back to organizations who help veterans even further.

What has been the most rewarding experience of being a Sword & Plough Brand Champion?

Hearing stories from older generation veterans, or children/grandchildren of older generation veterans, are always my favorite. Growing up with my own grandpa’s story of being a POW and surviving has always been a tremendous source of pride for our family. I love getting to see that pride in others when they tell their family hero’s story.

One of the hopes for the Community Brand Champions program is that each member will leverage their own entrepreneurial spirit. What creative ways have you employed to reach customers?

I am truly an introvert, so approaching people and initiating the conversation is not my favorite thing to do. If someone comments on something I am wearing or carrying, I am happy to share. If someone brings up the military or veterans or jobs, I am happy to talk about S & P. I mostly use social media platforms to share our products and mission. I find it to be easy and fast, and the introvert in me can be completely outgoing in an online post. I would be more uncomfortable interacting face to face.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

My husband will want me to say him! But there are so many veterans in our family and we are so proud of each of them, I can’t pick just one.

Sword & Plough recently announced their Giving Partners. What Giving Partner is your favorite and why?

All of the Giving Partners are doing such tremendous work, but as a dog lover and an owner of a rescue dog, I really love Pets for Vets. Pets for Vets gives second chances to shelter dogs, matching them with veterans, saving both the veteran and the dog. The increasing research that supports the use of dogs as therapy animals is awesome and I love supporting their cause.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

My personal favorite is the blue mini tote. It’s the perfect size for me to carry my laptop, my smaller handbag, several files, sunglasses and a ton of other “stuff” I tend to carry around daily. I love the material and hardware. I am so hard on my bags, and this one has stood up to all the abuse I put it through. I also love that the blue fabric is used to make American flags.

Tell us about the service members in your life and your connection to them.

I met my husband shortly after his honorable discharge from the Marines. We met at work. Don’t tell him this, but I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to him until 9/11 happened. We were at a work meeting, watching the news unfold on the big screen in the conference room. He suddenly left. Later, I found out it was to go make sure his info was all up to date, in case he needed to be pulled back up. I didn’t realize at the time that he was in his 4 years inactive period after discharge, where he could be pulled back up.

He did not end up serving again during that time, but he later enlisted in the National Guard, where he has served the last 6 years.

I am incredibly proud of his service, and the service of all the veterans in our family.

What, if any, experience did you have that made you feel like the Brand Champion program was a good fit for you? What advice would you give to someone who is just starting as a Brand Champion or thinking about applying?

Go for it. If you love the product and the mission, it’s easy to share the story. Although we are spread out all over country, the home office does a great job making sure we all feel like we are integral to the momentum of the company. Everyone is willing to help and share.

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