By: Lisa Slagle, 2016
Last week, I was in Revelstoke, standing at the top of steep, rocky chute, staring down at a giant, terrifying pile of rocks at the bottom of it, when I realized something:
I feel the most intelligent, powerful, and happy when I am strapped into my snowboard and picking my way through rocks on steep, exposed terrain with very high consequences.
At the exact same time, I feel dumb, powerless, and terrified in this situation, but I choose not to listen to that side of my brain.
There isn’t room for negativity when you are jump-turning through a scree field on a 55 degree slope. When I pick my way down a line, hit a mandatory air out of it, rip a few big turns down to the bottom, and look up at what I just accomplished, I feel strong and successful. And like I can breathe again.
To me, this is fun.
In Revelstoke, on top of that rocky waterslide of a chute, I could feel my soul being its truest self, activating my adrenaline and brain in a way that feels really, really good.
I like scaring myself a little.
I think to some subconscious degree, that is why I started a business.
Entrepreneurship is terrifying. You’re on your own, figuring things out, and you can’t let negative thoughts sneak into your brain and percolate. You have to know how to navigate your thoughts.
In the same way that the foundation of climbing or kayaking or mountaineering is built upon thriving within a certain amount of risk, I believe that to be good at business, you have to be comfortable with risk.
Just like a steep, rocky line that looks unrideable, you see something that others don’t. You see a creative way out. That’s why you started a business--to put action to your vision.
Maybe you see a better way to make backpacks. Maybe you see a way to reduce the environmental impact of ski resorts. Maybe you see a way to revolutionize mountain biking while also marketing to women in a better manner. You started a business because you see something, and you believe something.
We’re the same, you see.
I started a business because I believe in protecting fun. I realized that the brands we work best with believe in protecting fun, too. The outdoor industry is supposed to be fun. Being outside, using the products we market, is what I live for, and in those rare moments when I’m not having fun, I realize that I’m doing it wrong. So I figure out ways to bring that playfulness and joy and passion back to the focus of what I’m doing.
I see something happening in the outdoor industry. It seems as if lots of brands in our market take themselves too seriously. Between profit margins, hashtags, and competition, the fun seems to get a little lost. Marketing strategies get boring, formulaic, and linear. So I help people find the fun in their companies again. That’s what I see. I see opportunities to produce smiles.
At Wheelie Creative, we make silly videos. We design playful packaging. We write copy that your customers actually want to read.
We know these customers because we are these customers.
We know that there is time to read the words on the wrapper of your energy bar while you sit trailside on a rock and wait for your buddies to catch up. We try to put something on that wrapper that will make you smile, or even laugh.
We know that when you sit on a chairlift, you spend more time looking at the tops of your skis or your ski pole handles than you realize. It’s our job to make that time matter. What can we do to make you smile? Hide a silly drawing in the graphics? Slip a goofy saying onto your poles? How can we make your lift ride even just a tiny bit more fun?
We know that in the outdoor industry, there are all kinds of missed opportunities for subtle, personalized, fun, and we intend on filling them.
Business is full of risks, and there are things worth getting wrong, but I know that at Wheelie, we don’t want to risk missing smiles.
We believe in taking risks to protect fun. We base all our decisions upon making your customer experience more fun. We have said no to clients who take themselves too seriously and yes to unlikely clients who surprised us by loving our sense of humor. We have hidden bear paws in a mountain town to create curiosity. We have hung out of car windows with a video camera yelling to our designer to drive faster while we try to capture Montana at 50mph. We have built obnoxious selfie sticks out of tent poles and duct tape just to make people laugh. We have hosted free Bike-In Movie night, where we play movies on a giant outdoor screen we built in downtown Whitefish. We have turned the phrase "Go Fund Yourself" into something meaningful and ridiculous and silly to yell.
All in the name of keeping the outdoor industry fun.
We believe in risk. We believe in nature. We believe in laughter.
Who’s with us?