After graduating in 2016 with a composite degree, Gavin Midlam explored various industries. He worked as an associate industrial designer for Halo Neuroscience and then held a few roles at Adidas including a 3D footwear designer and a product manager. From 2021–2022, he worked as the head of products for Amberjack, a shoe company. Most recently, Gavin has ventured into his own entrepreneurial endeavors as he founded LEON, a footwear brand. Gavin is also the outreach and partnerships manager for the Refugee Nation, a nonprofit organization. As Gavin reflects on his career journey he shares, “You don’t have to pretend like you have it all figured out. Rarely is your career a linear journey. Try things, say yes, take risks.” Gavin uses his experiences to constantly create and try new ideas.

What was an impactful experience you had as a student at Hope?
My time as a student-athlete, playing soccer for the college, is responsible for some of the most impactful experiences during my time at Hope. Building discipline, character and, above all, a brotherhood of teammates that has been transferable in unimaginable ways in the context of my career.

What is your current job title?
I am the founder of a footwear company called The House of Leon. At this stage of the business, I wear a variety of hats spanning from footwear design, to sourcing and manufacturing, to raising capital. No two days are the same but everyday there’s a puzzle to solve.

What do you love about your chosen career?
I just love making things. And specifically, footwear. Having the autonomy to cast a vision and build not only products, but systems, relationships and, ultimately, a business. It’s the most challenging, yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

What advice would you give to a current Hope student?
You don’t have to pretend like you have it all figured out. Rarely is your career a linear journey. Try things, say yes, take risks.

What class would you retake if you could?
Sculpture with Billy Mayer. Billy had a transformative impact on my life helping me navigate my education at Hope and ultimately instilling a belief in myself to carve my own unique career path as a creator.

Hope College is proud to honor Gavin Midlam ’16 with the 2023 10 Under 10 Award. The 10 Under 10 Award honors emerging leaders who are making significant contributions by living out their callings; engaging in the local and global community through professional and/or volunteer involvement; and using their education to think about important issues with wisdom and clarity. Award recipients also communicate effectively to bridge boundaries that divide human communities and act as agents of hope living faithfully into their vocations. Designed for alumni who are within 10 years of graduation, these awards are presented by the Hope College Alumni Association. Make a nomination today.

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