Jasmine Jordan On Running The Jordan Brand Empire & Leaving A Legacy Of Her Own

As an executive of the Jordan Brand, the daughter of Michael Jordan is a star in her own right.


"As soon as I get back to Chicago, I'm definitely getting some Lou Malnati's Pizza or something," Jasmine Jordan confesses.

Currently quarantining from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Chi-town native speaks of better days when the coronavirus no longer confines us to our couches. She's not complaining though. The newly-engaged mom is appreciating the trips that were traded in for some much-needed family time. "I could go for a deep-dish pizza right now."

OK, so maybe she craves just a little bit of normalcy.

But normal looks a little different for the daughter of a basketball legend. And though her life may seem predestined, Jordan is determined to build a legacy that lives beyond that of her father's accomplishments. After all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She's a star in her own right.


Born and raised in the Windy City, she lived a life of both sunny skies and winter storms. Growing up in the lap of luxury afforded her a privileged life that she certainly doesn't deny, but her parents made sure that she was aware of life on the other side. Grandma's house on Wallace Street gave her a taste of the Southside talked about in headlines.

"[My mom] was like it's not about a scare tactic or anything like that, you just need to know how the world is around you," says Jordan, reminiscing on days of family visits where pops would play ball in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. "It felt like home. No matter what we did behind those gates, we knew we're still a part of this community. They made sure that we knew how life was around us so we never felt like we were in a bubble or sheltered, and never felt like we couldn't connect and relate to other people that look like us because of our economic backgrounds."

At Loyola Academy, a predominately white private school where wealth wasn't uncommon, Jordan was welcomed as the heiress to the throne. But she wanted to be known for something more than her pedigree. "My father is my father. He has his fame and he's built his empire and brand, but at the end of the day those are his accomplishments," she says. "Do I reap the benefits of it being his daughter? Absolutely. But I have no right to claim those things, and I never do because those are his accomplishments. I'm his daughter and I'm still going to make a name and do whatever I need to do so people can see me for me."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"My father is my father. He has his fame and he's built his empire and brand, but at the end of the day those are his accomplishments. Do I reap the benefits of it being his daughter? Absolutely. But I have no right to claim those things, and I never do because those are his accomplishments. I'm his daughter and I'm still going to make a name and do whatever I need to do so people can see me for me."

When she transitioned to public school during her junior year, however, titles and worldly treasures no longer held rank amongst her new group of friends. "They're not checking for my bank account. They're not checking for my last name. They're trying to see, all right, can you hang with us? You know, do you know how we go off? Do you know our background? And my thing is, I may not have grown up on the streets or anything like that, but I'm fully aware of it. I'm a well-rounded individual and that's critical."

Living in both worlds gave her the confidence to own her privilege and simultaneously embrace her people. While life at home was much different than the one at school, moving amongst her peers where she wasn't defined by who her parents were allowed her to become her own woman.

"We knew we were fortunate. We are blessed, but we aren't different. Once you remove those materials factors away then you realize that I'm just Jasmine. I'm just me."


And as an executive of the Jordan Brand, the 27-year-old boss chick is helping to run an empire, working as the liaison between the Jordan Brand and its respective athletes. From ensuring the players get their footwear and apparel to ball in style to coordinating efforts for photoshoots and media appearances, Jordan often takes on the role of a mama bear protecting her young, many of which aren't too far off in age.

"Being their representative and making sure that they are representing the brand as well, I'm going to be super protective about them and make sure they're comfortable and make sure that they're being heard in different settings," she says. "I just want to make sure that my athletes and whoever I'm working with or having meetings with are comfortable in that setting as we get the job done, and whatever that entails. [I want to] make sure we execute at the highest level."

As a Black woman in a male-dominated industry, Jordan is fighting for her own voice just as much as those of her athletes.

And as the oldest, female sports representative for the Jordan Brand, all eyes are on her, and expectations are set high. Not to mention the fact that her father's a legend. That's pressure on another level of pressure. "I'm getting hit left and right with all these expectations, but I don't run from them. I embrace it because at the end of the day, if I can pave the way for more Black women to get into this industry, then I'm doing my job."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"I'm getting hit left and right with all these expectations, but I don't run from them. I embrace it because at the end of the day, if I can pave the way for more Black women to get into this industry, then I'm doing my job."

A 2014 graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in sports marketing, Jordan hit the ground running just three days after graduation working as the coordinator of Basketball Operations for the Charlotte Hornets, where she stayed for four seasons before moving on to the Jordan Brand. She credits the job for giving her the business etiquette required in her role today.

"A lot of my communications outside of the athletes were with the teams or colleges, so it was a lot of emails," she recounts. "It really took me out of my element. I'm a people person, I like to talk on the phone or see you and engage with you in person and knowing that I couldn't connect with the colleges or the reps from other NBA teams on a consistent basis outside of email was definitely hard. So, I definitely loved the fact that I had to really sit down at a computer for eight or nine hours out of the day and constantly engage that way and make sure that they still felt my personality or my words through the emails I was sending."

Despite what naysayers may think, her transition to the Jordan Brand, initially as a Field Representative, was no easy feat. "I'm not checking for people who think I have a handout or assume because it's my father's brand it should be easy for me. I had to go through the same process as everybody else. I had to do interviews, I had to submit resumes, so on and so forth. My work ethic is definitely going to speak for itself."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"I'm not checking for people who think I have a handout or assume because it's my father's brand it should be easy for me. I had to go through the same process as everybody else. I had to do interviews, I had to submit resumes, so on and so forth. My work ethic is definitely going to speak for itself."

On her first day, she felt like the new girl on campus. Dividing her time between Nike's headquarters in Portland while maintaining relations with the team in Charlotte presented its own set of challenges, and she spent the first few months in her role trying to prove herself, only to learn that there is no "I" in "team". "I didn't reach out and ask for help when doing projects," says Jordan. "At first I was like, I just want to hold everything close to me and master it. I'm going to figure it out and then, boom, I'll present."

That mindset failed her when Kemba Walker, who was known for sporting Air Jordan 32s, expressed that the shoe design was uncomfortable when having to cut and drive to the basket. "Instead of asking the team for the proper language to explain what Kemba was uncomfortable with, I just kept saying, 'No, it's the Achilles; it's hurting him.' So, we had to create like three or four different shoes and none of them were accurate or correct because I wasn't speaking in their language."

Pride often comes before a fall, and her own mistakes led to an understanding that asking questions and learning the designer's lingo would help better translate her requests and reduce inefficiency. "I really had to humble myself and understand it's not that anyone's taking anything from me, it's the fact that we're a family. We're a small organization, Jordan Brand. I've got to look at them as family and not just colleagues, and understand that if one person's down, then we're all down."


Embracing her new "family" would help her go on to launch the Jordan Heiress collection, complementing the growing line of women-focused sneakers. A sneakerhead and fashion lover herself (her personal collection is well over 500 pairs), Jordan regards the experience as a passion project, echoing the advice of her mentor Jeanie Buss, President of the Los Angeles Lakers, to "make sure you love it and it aligns with your heart and it feels right."

"I wanted it to feel like that rich design and have that texture really feel like it could be a designer shoe like the Louis Vuitton, but it's still true to Jordan and true to our retro story," she says.

It's that love and commitment that has allowed Jordan and the Jordan Brand team to continue to catapult the brand which, according to Forbes, just reached its first billion-dollar quarter after an impressive $3.1 billion in wholesale revenue over the previous fiscal year. "If I can have my work ethic, my accomplishments, and my success on projects outshine the fact that I'm my father's child, then my job is done."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"If I can have my work ethic, my accomplishments, and my success on projects outshine the fact that I'm my father's child, then my job is done."

Jasmine Jordan's building her own. She's a hustler and a go-getter, just like Mike. But she's also a new mother and a soon-to-be wife to fiancé and NBA player Rakeem Christmas. Both roles she embraces with open arms while carrying the workload of a corporate executive on her shoulders. But no worries, she was built for the league of extraordinary women. Between phone calls and emails from work and the never-ending demands of life at home, she slips in five minutes of prayer and meditation here, a currently self-administered manicure there—moments of stillness that are much welcomed in her busy schedule. Motherhood has taught her to practice patience and peace, lessons that extend from the baby room to the boardroom.

"He's new to this world and he's depending on me—depending on his dad and really just depending on us to figure out how to function and understand what's happening around him, and that takes a lot of patience and being calm and laughing," she admits. "I think those are definitely the things that have really come because of becoming a mother. But I appreciate it because now I'm way more patient and I laugh at almost anything and everything just to shake off whatever I might actually be feeling."

It doesn't escape Jordan that she's also raising a Black son in a world that judges him not by his bank account but by the color of his skin. Success, it turns out, isn't a shield from white supremacists or racism.

"He's only blind because he doesn't even realize what's happening, which is a blessing in disguise," says Jordan. "But it is going to be the conversations that I remember my mom having with my brothers (Jeffrey and Marcus) and just saying like, hey, when you go out in public, make sure you're like 'yes or no sir,' 'yes ma'am no ma'am.' You know, manners and be polite. Don't sag your jeans, things that aren't typical conversations for white people or anybody that's not Black. It's about making sure we've raised him just to be a respectful young man and a respectful individual, but we're going to have to have those additional conversations so he can understand what life is like as a Black man."

For now, the little prince can rest easy knowing that he's well-loved and taken care of, though Jordan is clear that she won't just be handing over the keys to the empire. Like her, he'll have to learn about business beyond that of her family to make sure the bag stays secure. "I'm now working with financial advisors and wealth management programs to truly understand what it is to be a beneficiary of wealth," she says. "It's not just about getting money and being able to spend it, you want to make sure that money outgrows and outlives you."

For five Sundays in a row, millions of viewers tuned in to watch The Last Dance, which documented the life and the legacy of her father. But Jasmine Jordan's own story is just getting started, and she's already proving that she's just as worthy of the spotlight.

For more of Jasmine, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Jasmine Jordan.

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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