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Guest Chris Pew - Better stewards for the environment.



This is re posted.

Hello, and welcome to reposted. In the next few moments we'll be breaking down the posts that we have found to be inspiring, interesting, or otherwise entertaining quotes that catch our eye and we feel are worth a deeper look. Thank you for stopping by.


Andrew

Today we're joined by Chris Pew. He's the co founder and CEO of true gear. It's an outdoor apparel company that combines style and technology to develop some of the most advanced technical aware you can check them out at True T ar e w gear comm or on Instagram and Twitter at true gear. Chris, I want to start off with a quote that we found that's on your website. And you guys say we believe that people who have positive experiences in the mountains are better stewards for the environment, happier people in their communities, and more motivated to make the world a better place. I really like this because a lot of times I think of apparel companies is like, I want to look good. I'll be functional. But like, this seems to have a different twist. Like what does this mean to you guys?


Chris Pew

Yeah, I'm glad you picked on that quote, because it's kind of new. You know, we've been around for 10 years, and I think like a lot of for over 10 years, 11 years now. And like a lot of entrepreneurs, we started with a specific product idea, like our our mission in 2009 was to make truth bibs, we have this idea for a panda be great for the back country and the resort. And, and we're pretty, you know, kind of myopically focused on that. And then, you know, the cool thing about brands and small companies is they kind of grow up with the individuals that are in it. And with the changing cast of characters and partners and different collaborators that we've have. We've had over the years, we did a lot of work this summer, actually in 2020, which I think for a lot of individuals and companies was kind of a reckoning of asking those hard questions like, Why Why are you doing this? You know, what's, what's this? What's this all mean? What's this all for? And it was kind of through that work that we honed in on that statement, which for us is, is not, it's not really a departure from what we've always done, you know, we created a pant that can be used to transition from the resort to the back country. And so that simple mission was like, we want to get more people into the back country. So we want to make it easier, we want to eliminate a barrier, which is like you don't have to buy all this crazy expensive mountaineering clothing. But then in doing so, when you ask yourself, why, well, why do we want to get people in the back country, we kind of unpack those statements that it just makes us happier. And when you're when you're happier, you're healthier, you're a better person. And when you're happier and healthier. In the outdoors, you're going to be a better steward for the environment. And so maybe the more people we get where in truth, this the more happy healthy environmentalist will have out there. You know,


Larry

Chris, people become lawyers, because they think it's gonna bring them prestige, and then they get the job and they realize, man, prestige sucks, and this job sucks. And most of them quit. Yeah, you started a company for back Stokes gears and people going into the woods, and it's your passion. So you're really not even selling your gear, you're just talking about your passion.


Chris Pew

Yeah, that's right. Passion and, and community, you know, and that's what I think separates the back country market from traditional like downhill snowboard and ski market is backcountry really is all about community. You know, it's, it's, you know, to go back to that statement, again, in the beginning, we say, you know, we think that positive experiences in the mountains can make you a better person, well, positive experiences the mountain, I think it's a particularly you know, it's unique to our branch or thumbs up, Brandon, we're all about having fun and having positive experiences. We think about the bat country, it's not like winning or losing, you know, you're not like trying to be the fastest or go the biggest or spin the most. It's about having a positive experience outside, which could mean just tackling an objective or just going out and being safe and being with your friends and, and, and having a good time. And so I think that distinction is really important to us and trying to, to get as many people as we can into that way of thinking and to understand that backcountry is more about building the community up instead of being this like solitary guy going the fastest or the Vegas or something like that. It's it's pretty important too.


Andrew

I really like that idea of community with a bad country. I grew up in Texas, and I moved to Colorado and I know you're based in Oregon, but in Colorado, you don't want to be a gay person, like someone is a bad skier. And I feel like the Alpine community. I don't know if that country is still Alpine but like these people you're talking about made me feel like an outsider and it wasn't very nice and I do like the back country is more of like people do laps by hitchhiking and it is a community effort. And I guess Do you see that with in Oregon as well with the the difference between back country and the resorts?


Chris Pew

Yeah, for sure. I mean, the back country community has its share of people who are you don't want to share their knowledge and we'll call you off of any game or something like that. But our brand in particular, we're always trying to promote, like, building people building you know, kind of rising tides rise ships, whatever the prices, you know, because the more educated and intelligent backcountry skiers and snowboarders we have, everywhere the sacred place that back country is going to be and the more fun we can all have. I've been to places like off top my head, you know, like Teton pass and Jackson Hole Wyoming is this kind of storied, famous backcountry place you can park right on the highway and hike straight up this peak, and it's super crowded, and there's tons of people and it's really intimidating like these dudes get out of their trucks with you know, all the expensive gear and they're, you know, everyone kind of has this like, we call it the cool guy vibe. You know, you're kind of like you don't want to you don't want to talk to anybody like surfers that a lineup, you know, you're not like trying to share that much information. But we really want to be the approachable guys in the parking lot. You're like, if you have a question. He sees someone wearing a true jacket. You know, go ask that guy. He's probably a nice guy. And we'll share some beta and that's like our vision. We want to be the positive Stewart's the back country and help everyone have


Larry

have more fun. You have a true audience. If you want to reach back country people, you sell high quality gear, which means sometimes little more expensive. Do you have issue trying to convince people that you're not the h&m of snow were like, hey, it costs more because it's bait made better?


Chris Pew

Yeah, I mean, actually, in the backcountry market, we tried to nail the bottom of that high end price point, I mean, to use the materials that we do and to make the type of garments we do, they're going to be more expensive than your price point stuff that you know, more value shoppers are used to finding for snow outerwear. But on the back country, in high end technical apparel market, we really try to target you know, the bottom of that price point. So like we want to be the most approachable jacket and bib just like with our our marketing and messaging, trying to be approachable and friendly. We want that price point to be a little bit easier to bite off for someone who's looking for technical gear. And we also sell it like traditionally when companies were designing Alpine shells now pine pants there, we found them to be kind of one dimensional, really lightweight. No pockets. They were designed for someone who's climbing Mount Rainier as fast as possible. And where do I put my ramen? Where do I put my PB and J like this is this is not for me. And so we want to make a jacket and pant that you could climb right here and but you could also you know, ski mountain meadows and put all your snacks in the right spot and, and so there's some value in that, you know, I'm making a more multi dimensional apparel piece, you can get more people into your gear, and then they can have the confidence to take that gear into the backcountry or mountaineering around a hot tripper without having to like buy more stuff.


Andrew

So you kind of mentioned that you guys have have evolved through the years with your company and you you're at this place where you're building community right now, where are you seeing the future of you guys going? Once we're on the other side of this pandemic? Do you want to keep going that direction? or what have you guys reflected on in 2020?


Chris Pew

Yeah, that's a great question. Because this is like you like, yeah, this summer we did a lot of that, you know, being in Portland, especially, you know, being really connected to there's just a lot of protests and stuff and there's a lot of social and political people that people in you know, maybe smaller mountain towns don't experience as intensely as as as people in cities and definitely Portland this summer. And, and I think it made us become more conscious of the connection that even outdoor brand can have to a community like when I we used to talk about community I used to just think about backcountry skiers and snowboarders or resort skiers and snowboarders but now we think about our communities where we live where we work, and our customers and so part of what we did this summer to is, you know, COVID and stuff is we built made face masks like a lot of brands but we donated a proceeds to the Oregon Community Foundation. And it's I think it's those types of projects that have us really excited about the future of our company because it just gives us this like, I don't know more longevity and more purpose within the community that we live you know, so you're you feel a little bit more kind of ingrained with our surroundings where, you know, if you just think about the future backcountry skiing stuff on boarding, you're kind of, I don't know, you're, you're just hoping that it's people are still going to do it and it's popular. But if you're providing a, you know, a real service and a real benefit to the community, then I think that that will give you better staying power. Overall, we're still figuring out how to do that, to be honest, we're just kind of that's where our heads that now. Yeah. Hey, Chris, I


Larry

perused your LinkedIn profile for we came on to two parter a, I want to know what your Comparative Literature degree is given to your life. But But mainly, you've really only ever done true gear. That's it. Like you weren't some big wigs at Levi's and came over and started gear, do you think that helps you that your frame of reference is just true gear?


Chris Pew

Yeah, I mean, I'll answer that one. First, I guess. You know, when we started this, we were just at a college, I was even junior and senior in college, when I started working on this with a friend trip, who's quite a bit older, he had had his MBA and was working in manufacturing and outdoor industry. And so when you're that young, you just have nothing to lose. You're just like, yeah, sure, let's go for it. Like, I'd love to learn how to do that. And I'm interested in passionate about backcountry skiing, snowboarding. So that's a great time to try something new, right when you're just that young. And so I'd recommend any young person to do that you have, you have the energy and you have the time, and you have nothing to lose so and then I do think it has informed the way I certainly informs the way I hire people, I actually always prefer to hire unexperienced people were just passionate and curious about our industry. And it's because it's it's from my own experience, I learned that anybody can learn how to do all these different things like you can learn if you know or hire any marketing person, they can learn how to run a social media account. But what you can't teaches, are they curious about learning more? And are they passionate about our industry? Do they care about what we're doing. And so I found that to be an incredible benefit. Just to know that early on, as we started, it's like I came in knowing absolutely nothing. But it forced me and allowed me to ask really original questions about how to create technical apparel and how to start a company and how to run a brand. And so I really value that in our employees. And nearly everybody like our operations person, Katherine is an engineer with a background in content marketing. And she just is so passionate about backcountry skiing, and she does an amazing job with customer service and operations, because she brings all that other experience she has. And you know, it's kind of able to do so much more than if you just go hire someone who has a customer service background. And hips are marketing guys. He wasn't even looking for a job. I just like, I knew that he had this film background, and he was, you know, kind of a aspiring professional skier and his youth and his passion about skiing. And I really wanted someone on our team that had the capability to edit motion and film. And so I offered him this marketing job. And so he had to learn how to do email marketing things, you know, obviously, anyone young knows how to use social media. So that's pretty easy. But he had to learn all that other stuff. And he's great at it, because he brings all this other extra talent that, you know, doesn't make him so close minded about marketing. So I think Yeah, I think that's a really good plus not having any experience. And then on the comparative literature side, you know, I just like, what I happen to fall into in college, because I love reading and, and I went, I went to Colorado College, which is, I don't know, familiar that it's on a block plan. And so you, you took one class three and a half weeks, then you go skiing for five days, and you come back, you take another another class for three half weeks and go skiing for five days. And so I decided that literature would be like, the best just, you know, read a book, and go skiing or like, you know, read a book in the back of a car. And yes, but I, I do think I told the chair of the conflict department when I went back, I don't know, five years ago, whenever our five year reunion, I guess was that, um,


Unknown Speaker

I do think Comparative Literature


Chris Pew

prepares you for design thinking, because Comparative Literature, you know, you're not really studying, like syntax and writing, you're studying, what is it? What is the effect of this piece of literature have on the reader? And what was the social and political situation that created this work of art that that inspired this author to create this work of art? So you're really thinking about people you're thinking about? Why does this mean some point something to this person and something different to this person? And so it you know, it kind of puts you in that creative mindset where when we design apparel we think about why would a backcountry skier like this, you know, why would this little feature design be important? To our customer more than just customer so I know that's kind of a stretch but I you know, I buy into that I think that's great. Chris Pugh. Thank you so much for joining us today guys. Check out true gear, Terry w gear.com. visit them in Oregon. You don't have to pay sales tax. I'm Andrew Keller for Chris Q and the caper saying thanks for stopping by


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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