By: Lisa Slagle, owner & creative director
I've always had mostly male friends.
As a classic tomboy, it seems funny to me that now, in my early thirties, my main rallying cry is to help the outdoor industry be more inclusive toward women.
This is the staple of my creative agency right now and also why I'm starting a creative action sports workshop series called Wheelhouse Workshops with a mission to get more cameras into the hands of women.
Women are awesome.
I think I started surrounding myself in women within the last five years because it became an option. Something shifted in the industry. More women started showing up at trailheads and lift lines and boardrooms. One woman would hire us to help launch her business, and then she would tell all her friends, and they would hire us, and so on. Now we have a loyal following of hilarious, talented, visionary women that we get to call clients and friends.
I also go out of my way to hire women. Lawyer. Bookkeeper. CPA. Human Resources Consultant.
In-house at Wheelie, every time we post a job, we always receive TONS of resumes from women and just a handful from men. Perhaps contrary to the ethos of the Mad Men era of agency life, I love hiring women who have kids. In my experience as an employer, no breed of human kicks more ass or runs better logistics than a mom with little kids to feed. Moms get shit done.
Outdoor brands often ask us how to look cool to women, verbatim. We get this question a lot, and increasing female brand engagement has become one of our most popular services at Wheelie.
I think this is both hilarious and wonderful. It seems like common sense that if you want women to think your brand is cool, then be cool to them. Much of this can be accomplished through photography. Show women riding their bikes, not standing next to them. Show women of different shapes, colors, and perspectives using your products.
Meet women where they are as individuals, not as a clump in your business plan labeled "women." Unclump us. No one likes clumps.
And so, because Q4 is wrapping up and 2018 is a fresh start, here are:
5 EASY THINGS OUTDOOR BRANDS CAN DO TO APPEAL TO WOMEN IN 2018:
1. Make gear for us.
We get it. No money goes into women's gear because no women are buying your gear. Break the trend. This is a vicious cycle, and you have the power to stop it, but you have to invest in women before they will be loyal to your brand.
2. Give us options.
The industry now knows that we want more than black or pink. Last year, the industry all decided all women wanted teal. Teal helmets. Teal shorts. Teal ski pants. It looked like a uniform. We all rocked teal with teal. Better than pink. Okay.... what about your brand? What kind of options in size, color, fit, pattern, and ergonomics can you present that are unique to the experience of using your gear? And which shorts in your line will specifically fit not just the female body, but my body? What are you doing to your products to provide versatility due to the uniqueness of every person's shape?
3. Show photos that are not exclusively of outdoorsy blonde women.
I fall into this category. Just the right amount of messy, blonde wisps frame my face under the brim of my trendy trucker hat. I look like every "classic outdoor woman" stereotype and have even been on a billboard or two because of it. But this is old. Appeal to a wider audience by showing Latina women or African American women or moms or crushing it. Diversity is more than just an old, old wooden ship.
4. Don't assume "Women's" means "Beginner."
This is the worst. But here's the thing and why this is a tricky one-- sometimes women are beginners. That's the importance of diversity and acquiring new customers and the meaning behind #EveryonesOutdoors. Everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone has been a beginner. But not all women are beginners. Some are intermediate. Some are advanced. Some are elite. Some are uninterested. Make sure you have an offering to meet each woman where she's at. I can't say that enough. This comes back to the unclumping from earlier.
5. Hire women.
First of all, hire the best person for the job. But also, make sure your company culture attracts women so that you get talent that also happens to be female. You can do this by following steps 1 through 4 internally as well as externally. Our friends at Camber Outdoors have a job board where you can post your jobs to attract female talent in the industry.
If you and your brand need some help for including women in your brand in 2018,
call us: 406-862-1440
email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
stop by: We have offices in Denver, Colorado and Whitefish, Montana
(addresses in the footer of this site)
Follow us on Instagram: @wheeliecreative
By: Lisa Slagle
Wheelie has grown, with offices in Denver and Whitefish now. This is exciting. Like most athletes-turned-business owners, I thrive in risk and challenge. The stakes are higher, projects bigger, and cameras smaller.
Something I quickly realized with growth though, is that everybody at your company has to know where the ship is going or they start rowing in their own directions. I revisited my favorite business book, Traction.
If you own a company or run a marketing department or athlete team or whatever, you’ll probably find value in this vulnerability I’m about to drop.
I sat down with a few longtime employees to revisit our company’s values.
I went into this exercise with the mindset of completing the task and moving on, unsurprised. “I could tell you in my sleep where Wheelie is going as a company. It takes up most of my brain power daily. My longtime employees definitely know the answer to this, too.”
Do this with your employees/core crew. Your world will be rocked, too.
1. I kicked off the conversation with, “Where do you think Wheelie will be in ten years?”
Everyone had a different answer ranging from a warehouse with a mini ramp and foam pit to working with brands that haven’t been invented yet to mobile offices out of Sprinter vans.
Wildly different answers, but at least they had the same spirit.
2. I asked another question, “Why do you work here instead of any other company in the world? What made you send in a resume in the first place?”
This conversation was fascinating to me. It revealed that we all work at Wheelie because our biggest belief is that this is our life, and we want to LIVE.
Our company culture does put a massive emphasis in LIVING.
We also all believe in real connections with real people, that life is meant to be shared.
We also believe life is best lived outdoors.
This strong mindset prompted us to rewrite our mission statement around WHY we do it, not WHAT we do:
Life should be lived, felt, and shouted from mountaintops.
Wheelie is a new school creative agency for people who thrive outside.
3. Try to write your mission statement focusing on WHY and then WHAT.
(It’s really difficult.)
Next, because our approach to marketing, branding, and video production is largely human, we went through the values every employee and client should have at their core in order to be a good fit. We came up with three groups of two:
This exercise was surprisingly difficult. I would call it almost as in depth as an internal rebrand.
4. Try it. List 6 words every employee and client must own.
Growth is good. It’s important to take a moment a reset, reexamine, and write down your company’s vision. This way everyone rows in the same direction.
Give it a shot.
If you want to talk about your experience with this exercise, shoot me an email.
It’s currently my favorite topic: email@example.com
By: Lisa Slagle, founder
It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? In that time, my creative company, Wheelie Creative, has grown, and I’ve hit a whole new level of exhaustion I never thought possible, but I’m a big fan of hard work, and there’s lots of good to celebrate, too.
We have a second branch now! Our Denver office has been up and running for a little over two months now, with four new employees running full steam. It’s in the Battery 621 building, which is amazing, so please stop by and meet the crew if you’re in the area.
I’ve been doing laps between Whitefish and Denver to the point where I now have favorite gas stations scattered down I-25 through Wyoming. My truck is still chugging, pushing 240K and smelling of unhealthy amounts of spilled coffee and half-eaten burritos. I’ve had a lot of time to think during the 16 hour commute.
Just like the outdoor cohorts that we work with, I’ve been having a hard relationship with the word “marketing.” And the word “advertising.” And even the word “agency” for that matter, which I wrestle with at least weekly. These words sound gross, like a used car salesperson trying to get you to buy rusty parts that have been spray painted matte black.
That’s the opposite of what we’re about at Wheelie.
We attract like-minded people running like-minded companies who also shudder at the thought of making people buy shit they don’t need. I’m finding that there is a really big difference between us and what I’ve dubbed “old-school agencies.” Old school agencies just don’t get what you and I are doing.
I’m not going to talk to you about how millenials (like myself and most of my employees) are the now. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows how millenials prefer experience over stuff. Everybody knows millenials are selective of what they do purchase and want meaning behind their choices. This is nothing new. But something I’ve grown to understand deeply is that millenials don’t trust agencies. They often come to Wheelie lamenting how they tried to work with an agency and “got burned” and just want someone who understands what they are trying to do, which is tell stories and create genuine connections and find meaning in their work, not just sell stuff. This familiar conversation has become a thing for us.
I smile at this because the dirtbag, goggle-tanned, After Lame era of snowboarders and skiers from a decade ago are now running things in our industry. The same kids I’d shotgun PBR with on top of the peak in Crested Butte are now pulling six-figure salaries with job titles like “director” and “founder” of some really awesome things. The same sunburnt kids I’d high five in the hallways of backcountry.com are now global marketing managers at our favorite brands. They’re now in charge of hiring agencies. I love this crew because they give a shit.
This crew of reluctantly grown-up thirty-somethings (who are starting to get married or have kids that they have to keep alive) is running the show. They’re nimble. They’re smart. They actually care about the companies they represent and the customers who give them the honor of purchasing their goods. They want a creative partnership to help them with their cause, not use a bunch of d-baggy marketing terminology about synergy and zero-tasking. They want to work with real human beings who actually use their gear. They want a combination of grit and streetsmarts backed by research and experience, and that’s who we want to work with, too.
Wheelie was born from snowboarding. It started with friendships, misadventures, and freezing nights in the back of a Tacoma. It grew with lasting relationships, better gear, and coffee shop wifi. And it grew up with results, thousands of projects in the books, and a solid group of creatives and project managers at the helm. I can proudly say that there has been absolutely zero synergy involved in our brand.
And so, here at Wheelie, while we’ve grown up and outward and returned to my homeland of Colorado, we’re still made of powder days, half-eaten burritos, and long road trips. You are, too. We see that wild look in your eyes and are grateful that our industry is in good hands, even if they are scarred and calloused and all dry and cracked from climbing chalk.
We won’t burn you. We’ve lit enough stuff on fire together in the past.
Burritos on us, and cheers to Colorado,
By: Lisa Slagle
The internet has changed the face of retail. That’s old news, right?
But what’s new and awesome is that the digital era has cultivated a healthy playing field for boutique online brands to actually compete with larger companies. These digital boutique retailers can sell their products directly to consumers, eliminating both the overhead of a physical retail store and the need to offer wholesale pricing to other retailers.
At Wheelie, we love photographing and designing seasonal catalogs. This might even be our ideal project these days because catalogs combine photography with layout design and sometimes infographic design. That’s a hat trick for us over at Wheelie.
When outdoor and action sports companies drop catalogs a few times a year (or if you’re a bike company, annually), there are two really fun things we get to work around:
By: Lisa Slagle
Action sports photography is a lot of fun, and it's one of our very favorite things to do here at Wheelie. Shooting outside in the elements during the winter is an entirely different beast than a warm summer day. Here are five pro tips for getting the shot during a winter photoshoot.
Scope your location ahead of time.
+Make sure it's steep enough for your athletes to send it, and that there are also a few different options for you to shoot from. Know how and when (if) the sun hits it.
+In some cases, you may need to help build a booter the day before so it freezes overnight to be solid enough for your athletes to hit the next day. Be ready to help build the jump, so bring a shovel and your digging arms. Be careful not to ruin the landing-- the best shots show fresh snow with no tracks.
+If you're hiking up a mountain, you're going to want to keep your gear as light as possible, so if you know how sunlight naturally hits the zone you've been scoping, you won't have to lug a bunch of unnecessary lights and flashes up a mountain. Your back will thank you. It's all about mobility.
+Make sure your crew knows when and where to meet and that they won't bail. Make sure they understand that getting the shot can sometimes mean a lot of hiking and methodical movement, i.e. giving up a pow day.
+Check the avalanche report all week leading up to your shoot so that you know what the snow is doing, and don't put yourself or others in danger if avy danger is high. Take an Avalanche Level I class if you don't know what we are talking about.
+Get the necessary permits you need. Your friends at the USFS will likely be the ones helping you out with this. Each ski resort also has their own policy for shooting and filming on their terrain, so look into it if you're in-bounds somewhere.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR ATHLETES WEAR BRIGHT COLORS.
Look at the pic above. We photoshopped the athletes to wear grey and black clothing. It's the same image that you saw earlier in this post, but look how boring it is now. It almost looks black and white because the sky is overcast. In the colorful image at the beginning of this post, the athletes "pop" against the dull sky. As you can see, this makes a huge difference in the overall wow factor of your photo. Same goes for video-- wear colorful outerwear.
3. FAST ATHLETES = FAST SHUTTER
The goal of an action sports photograph is to freeze the action, so you will want to be shooting at a minimum of 1/1000 second shutter speed. If you want extremely crisp shots, go for 1/2000. It depends on how overcast or sunny it is--shooting snow can be tricky-- but an aperture of f4 is usually good, although you could go as small as f5.6 to make sure your athlete is in focus in the surroundings, but also still pops off of them. A lot of cameras have an S setting (for shutter-preferred) and those are usually extremely helpful.
+You might need to mess with your camera's EV Setting, too. +2 is usually good on an overcast day because it will overexpose the shot by two steps to help fight underexposure. Take a few test shots before the real deal!
+If you're shooting video and know you're going to want to edit with slow motion, shoot in at least 4K.
4. USE MULTIPLE CAMERA ANGLES TO TELL A BIGGER STORY.
+Make sure you capture a good variety of establishing shots, mid-range shots, and close-up shots. This tells a bigger story than a bunch of shots from the same location with the same POV. It is also a good idea to capture some of the "in-between" moments to portray the lifestyle of action sports. (We always try to grab an unstaged portrait or two of our athletes during every shoot and email them to the athlete as a thank you note afterwards.)
+Always think about framing. Typically, you want to position yourself downhill from the subject so you can see his or her face and body. Strong diagonal lines are helpful for showing action. Backlit sun can give photos the snow sparkle that dreams are made of.
+Think about where you and your tripod can post up that will be safe from avalanche debris, other skiers and riders, and also one that will produce interesting photos.
+Also think about where the athletes WILL BE in the air. You want to make sure they don't get lost in details of background forest or something, so think forward when you're setting up.
5. BE GOOD TO YOUR GEAR.
We personally love the Panasonic GH-4 because it's been dubbed "The Explorer's Camera." It shoots 4K video as well as amazing stills, and for a DSLR, it's light, small, and durable. After a few years of abuse falling out of steady cams, shooting in the rain, and summiting peaks inside our Dakine camera pack, our shop GH4 is still crushing it.
+That being said, cameras don't like to get wet. It's not good for them. While we believe in actually using our gear without worrying too much about it, we do recommend looking into a few equipment options that will save your gear on wet days. Covers, sleeves, and lens cleaners are awesome.
+Bring extra batteries. Cold drains batteries faster than heat.
+Bring extra memory cards. You don't want to be out there and run out of room on your memory card.
+We also recommend bringing a thinner pair of gloves with touchscreen finger pads so your hands stay warm and you can still push buttons. (These gloves are also good for using walkie talkies to communicate with athletes.)
Be safe. Have fun. Go big.
Want to talk about hiring our crew for your next video or photo shoot? Let's talk!
Lisa, here, from Wheelie Creative. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
I could make a ton of excuses about how I was on the trade show circuit (I slept on a lot of couches), that I was at the Telluride Mountain Ventures Summit participating in a conversation about diversity and inclusion in mountain towns (which was incredibly moving and thought-provoking), or I could even tell you that I wanted to spend my Sunday mornings riding powder instead of writing these emails (which is totally true, too), but the real reason there has been radio silence is that I have just been listening.
Showing up, listening, and observing.
Everybody knows that there’s an extra amount of noise to absorb lately, so I’m not going to get too deep into that. I will say this:
Winter trade show season for the outdoor and snow industry is right around the corner. Are you ready for it?
The outdoor industry loves this time of the year. You and your team have presumably spent the summer preparing for this time, came up with a great booth idea, and already have everything you need for it printed, packed, and ready to rock. Right?
(insert chirping crickets here)
Hopefully you’re ready to head to Salt Lake next month for Outdoor Retailer and then over to Denver for SIA, but if you’re a smaller company with a small team, chances are the scramble is real.
Ever since I read this terrific article about live video from the Outdoor Industry Association, one particular quote has been haunting my thoughts. It’s from Tony Pullen, the VP of Sales for Brandlive, a video streaming platform, and he said: “Live stream allows you to actually ask a question to the owner of Kuiu and he can answer directly. Produced video offers no interaction. We’ve gathered research from other companies, and the average view time for a Brandlive event is 21 minutes per viewer, whereas the average view time for YouTube is a minute and a half.”
21 minutes vs. 1.5 minutes. That’s a significant difference.
I strongly believe that the greatest gift you can give or receive is a person’s time. If viewers are willing to give 21 minutes of their lives to a live video, we are talking about a very powerful tool.
By: Lisa Slagle, founder & creative director
Sometimes life is funny in that the same question comes up repeatedly, yet manifests itself in different ways. I can’t tell you how many times in the last month at Wheelie that I have answered the same question catered to different client needs, so I figured it was time to write an article about it:
Should you hire an agency or an in-house marketing team?
You’d think, as the owner of an agency, I’d blurt out, “creative agency, duh!” and carry on with my day, but there’s actually an element of complexity to this question, and it deserves a robust answer.
If you’re a marketing manager, CEO, or business owner, you may be wrestling with the option of hiring a creative agency to help with your needs OR hiring an in-house employee to act as a designer or creative coordinator. There are advantages to both, and it kind of depends on what you are looking for.
Let’s do this: