This month we recognize Kayley Nammari's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Manager.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? Where did you study? What is your family like?
I’m an Army brat through and through. I was born in Missouri, and moved around the States to different Army installations thanks to my dad. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Hail Varsity!), moved to Houston for my civilian job, met my husband there, and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, three years ago after my father-in-law was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. I have a LARGE family and married into a LARGE family. My dad is one of 14 so I have more cousins than I can name off the top of my head. My husband’s family is Irish Catholic on his mom’s side and Palestinian on his father’s side. I love how this makes my four year old son so unique! I’m also expecting a baby, my second son, in September! I also have a goal of one day earning my PhD, possibly at OU in Political Science, and work in the Intelligence field in a more academic role.
What made you decide to be a Sword & Plough Brand Manager? What is it about the products/brand you love?
I first found S&P when I did a Google search in 2014 for a bag made in the USA. I immediately fell for the Wool Handbag, and sent my dad the link after he asked me what I would like for Christmas. I then followed the company like a drone on a target, and when I saw an Instagram post about the Brand Manager program, I applied! Being a veteran, the mission of the company spoke to me in a very personal way, and I wanted to share that mission’s message with others.
What has been the most rewarding experience of being a Sword & Plough Community Brand Manager?
To me, it’s not about the amount of sales I generate; instead, it’s about the reach I can have. I have met so many veterans since becoming a Brand Manager and sharing S&P’s mission. The material of the products catches their eyes, and then they begin to share an inkling of who they are. I’ve met retired Generals, Purple Heart recipients, and female veterans who joined the military when women were segregated to their own separate basic training. It’s an honor and a privilege to shake their hands and hear their stories! It’s the most rewarding part of being a Brand Manager by far.
One of the hopes for the Community Brand Manager program is that each member will leverage their own entrepreneurial spirit. What creative ways have you employed to reach customers?
Perhaps this harkens back to my time as an NCO, but to me, I’m only as successful as the entire team is successful. If I find a way to generate sales efficiently, I share it with the other Brand Managers. In the Army, at the conclusion of a mission, you have what is called an AAR (after action review) that highlights three sustains and three improves. I do my own version of an AAR after I do a show and share this with the other Brand Managers via Instagram Stories. I honestly state what I thought went well and what could be improved upon. My goal is that by sharing these insights with others, the team as a whole will be successful and reach customers in ways they may not have thought of.
Can you please share what has been your favorite experience/memory working with a Sword & Plough customer?
I had a man come up to me at the last show I did, and ask me if I was a veteran. I responded with a yes, and a huge smile crossed his face. He told me that I would appreciate what he had to show me and pulled out his phone. As he flipped through photos searching for the one he was hunting for, he explained he was a veteran and his son was now in the Air Guard. He then found the photo and proudly showed the screen to me. What I found myself looking at was a restored WWII medic Jeep. This man told me how he and his son found the Jeep in a farmer’s field, bought it, and had restored it together. The project created a deeper bond between then and allowed for the father to share his war stories with his son. He then profusely thanked me for listening and for my service. No, he didn’t buy anything, but by noticing the military surplus material, he felt comfortable enough to share a very personal story with me, a complete stranger. What a privilege! Hearing stories like this one is what I enjoy most about being a Brand Manager.
What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?
While I love my wool handbags, I find myself wearing my Brass Bar + Circle Necklace whenever I can. It’s just so chic! But beside the look of the necklace, it’s the story behind it that truly makes me enjoy wearing the piece. I wish I had just an ounce of creativity like Shanna because what she does with .50 caliber ammo casing is just beautiful.
Who is someone who inspires you and why?
I inspire myself. That may come across as a bit egocentric, but I was tiny kid who was bullied in school. When you’re small in size, not very athletic, and smart, childhood and adolescence can be difficult. When I joined the Army, I learned that my size had nothing to do with my abilities to succeed, but I had to LEARN that. I once was told that my brother was the brawn and I was the brain; the Army taught me that I can be both. When I ran my first marathon in 2014, I cried when I crossed the finish line because I did it. I just ran 26.2 miles without stopping! That was my way of proving that I can do anything regardless of the challenge at hand. I’ve ran two more marathons since then and have two more lined up for next year after I recover from the birth of my second son. I inspire me daily.
Tell us about your military service. Why did you serve, where did you serve, and what did you do.
I enlisted in the Army Reserve when I was 19. I was motivated by two factors: 1) my dad served 31 years in the Army and it changed his life for the better, and 2) student loan debt scared the hell out of me. I became a 96B (now 35F), an Intelligence Analyst, and garnered time as an NCO before receiving my direct commission into the Officer Corps when I graduated from university. Becoming a 2LT was both incredibly rewarding on a personal level and incredibly humbling on a military level. No one likes a LT! I separated from the Army after almost 10 years of service as an All Source Intelligence Officer and at the rank of CPT, my speciality being targeting terrorists specifically in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. I always say that joining the Army was the best decision I ever made, and that is no exaggeration. I found a wealth of self-confidence that I was severely lacking through the leadership skills the Army teaches. I met and served alongside the most selfless and brilliant individuals, all of whom taught me life lessons and made me a better soldier. Because I joined the Army, the skills I attained led me to Houston, to my husband, and eventually to my son. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not raised my right hand one frigid Nebraska winter day and taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Nineteen year olds often make poor, rash decisions; however, this time I like to think I proved that wrong.
Tell us about the service members in your life and your connection to them.
My dad, Charlie Obermier, served 31 years in the Army before retiring in 2008. He has been all over the world, through Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009, the Army named that year the year of the NCO. I remember I had just joined a new unit in Texas and was asked to stand in front of my brigade and name the NCO that has influenced me the most; I named my dad. He’s a force to be reckoned with!
My brother, Taylor, also served in the Army Reserve. Like me, he enlisted when in the middle of university and became a MP (Military Police). My brother was made for the Army and excelled at every task and mission. He humbly served in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, and is now separated from the military.
I have numerous cousins that have served or are currently serving in the military. My dear cousin, Kyle Pankau, serves in the Virginia National Guard as an Artillery CPT; my cousin, Abbie Obermier, is currently in Baghdad serving in the Army Reserve; my cousin, Josh Obermier, is an incredible active duty Marine and embodies military values to the tee. My beloved Papa, Raymond Pankau, served in the Army during WWII in the Pacific. He’s now almost 96, still as whip smart as ever, and beginning to share what his time in the war was like. He’s truly an incredibly man, and I adore him. And there are so many more! I am so proud to be a part of a family that serves!
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?
I believe in the the good of Sword & Plough. It’s that simple. It’s a GOOD company founded by GOOD people. This simplicity is difficult to find anymore. If you want to be a Brand Manager, you have to believe in the goodness of S&P, you have to want to be a part of the mission, you have to truly want to empower veterans and their employment. I’m not selling a product, I’m selling a message. You have to go out there and share with civilians that there are ways to support veterans that they might not have heard of: like buying goods made by veterans out of recycled military surplus. Embody the goodness that is Sword & Plough and you’ll find that the Brand Champion is an excellent fit for you! It is for me, and I enjoy it immensely!