Carolyn Davidson was a student at Portland State University when Nike founder Phil Knight offered her $2 per hour to do graphic design work for his company. Davidson billed $35 for the Swoosh design project, which is a comparative bargain for such an iconic brand logo. At the time, Knight's fledgling company was not yet called Nike but instead Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). Knight eventually gave Davidson a more substantial form of remuneration: a diamond ring engraved with the Swoosh logo and an undisclosed amount of Nike stock after the company went public in the 1980s, a gesture that Davidson has described as generous given that her original invoice of $35 from 1971 was paid in full.
The Swoosh became an icon for Nike and in pop culture, but founder Phil Knight was initially not entirely satisfied with Davidson's design. It was originally developed as a shoe stripe rather than a logo element. Davidson's tenure at Blue Ribbon Shoes lasted longer than her efforts on this one design project, and she was in charge of the company's design program until Nike contracted an external advertising agency.