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Episode 120: Wild Rye Marketing Manager Kami York-Feirn on Being An Authentic Brand

​"I think in order to be authentic, you have to be willing to talk about some of those tougher topics like crashing and failing and trips not going as planned."

This week on the podcast: Kami York-Feirn, Marketing Manager at Wild Rye and former Social Media Manager at Osprey. Kami joins us to talk about finding a brand voice, talking about tough topics as a brand, and being relatable to both beginners and seasoned athletes. How can a brand stand up for what it believes in? And do you have to sacrifice personal values for the interest of a brand? Listen in to find out!

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Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome to another episode of Outside by Design! I’m Iris from WHEELIE, and I’m so excited to introduce our guest this week to you. My co-host, Lisa, had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually, of course) with Kami York-Feirn: Marketing Manager at Wild Rye and former Social Media Manager at Osprey.

Lisa and Kami cover all sorts of topics in this episode, from finding a brand voice that’s separate from your personal voice to being relatable to both beginners and experts in your content. Kami discusses self-care as marketers, the dark side of social media management, and how brands show up in our political landscape. If you’re a marketing manager, social media manager, or you work within marketing in the outdoor industry, you are going to love this episode. Enjoy!

[intro music]

Lisa: Kami. Thank you so much for being on our podcast today.

Kami: Thank you so much for having me.

Lisa: I am very excited to learn more about you because you are one of our rare guests whom I haven't met in person. So I'm excited to learn about your story and how you got to where you are in your career now.

Kami: Awesome. I feel like I have a pretty unique career path in that I cultivated my position as a social media manager from scratch. And so I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2010 with a journalism degree. And back then the recession had just hit. And so there were literally zero jobs. But I'm a people person, I've known that I wanted to be a writer for a really long time, and an opportunity presented itself at the job that I was at. And so I wrote my own job description and we started offering social media services for our clients. And that job turned into a job at Osprey as their social media manager for five years. And then now I am currently the marketing manager at Wild Rye.

Lisa: Fun, really fun.

Kami: This is like, my dream job, honestly. Like, I get to work with women. I get to get more women on bikes. And that to me is just honestly a dream.

Lisa: And you get to wear Wild Rye clothing, which is amazing.

Kami: It's so bad ass. I just got back from Fruita and there were so many women on the trail with Wild Rye shorts that I'd stop and say, “Oh, those are so cute!” I think that Wild Rye fills this great niche in the market where their shorts are so durable. And I can't tell you how many times I've crashed my bike - embarrassingly, mostly going uphill - and my shorts look brand new. Like no scratches, no holes, no nothing. And that has never happened to me with any other brand of shorts that I've worn.

Lisa: Yeah, that's awesome. So, okay. Curious. I have a lot of big picture questions because you came from Osprey and now you're at Wild Rye. And I think this is great for our listeners, who are often marketing managers or creatives, but just going from one cool brand to another cool brand, but you're still you... kind of what's your secret to directing a brand in the collective brand voice, but also balancing that with your personal preferences?

Kami: I think that is such a good question. And it's honestly pretty tough to answer, but what I will say is I think it's really important for people to work for a company that shares their same values and that they see themselves in as a brand. And that's one thing that's really helped me both at Osprey and Wild Rye, is they both want to get as many people outdoors as possible. And so do I. And especially at Wild Rye, getting more women on bikes, I discovered biking maybe six years ago and mostly was riding with men and it hasn't been really until the last year and a half that I've started riding with more women and going on group rides.

But when you're thinking about the brand side of things, you're looking at, like, how do you get more women into the outdoors? How do you organize a group ride? How do you make them feel safe? How do you make this space feel welcoming? And I think a lot of that comes from sharing the same beliefs as the brand and being on the same page there.

Lisa: Hm. How do you… I guess, you know, as you're going through the interview process and kind of deciding what you're going to do in your career, how do you, how do you know if you are about to engage with a company that has the aligned values?

Kami: I've known Cassie for five years. So this job was a no-brainer for me.

Lisa: [laughs] Well that helps, definitely.

Kami: [laughs] She's a rad woman. She's built this company from the ground up, which is something that I admire, and she was literally running the entire business by herself for the last couple of years. And I admire somebody that has that much passion for the job and for the outdoors. So this job was an easy fit, but at Osprey, I think one of the things was, too, for me, that it was a leap of faith.

I was living in Denver at the time. I knew nobody that lived down here in the Durango area. I had one girlfriend here. But like, learning about the brand and learning more about the partnerships that they have, who they work with, what types of projects I get to be involved in. And like, same goes for Wild Rye. We work with SheJumps, which is a phenomenal organization that gets kids, women, adults, everybody, onto bikes and more into the outdoors. And that's something that is really important to me. I feel like I've really found myself in the last couple of years by riding my bike. And I want to help more women have that experience.

Lisa: So cool. How do you as one human woman handle the responsibility of managing marketing for an entire brand?

Kami: Ooh.

Lisa: ‘Cause that's, that's a hard thing to do. You're one person speaking for a brand, which I think is kind of a living, breathing thing.

Kami: I think the funny thing about that question is from an outsider's perspective, consumers always think that marketing teams are so much bigger. And they're willing to say anything from behind a computer screen without realizing that it's probably the same person running the Instagram page as the Facebook page as the website and all of that jazz.

But I would say it's about work-life balance really. And again, like being passionate about what you do so that when you come to work, it doesn't feel like a job. It feels like your career. It feels like your passion. And now that I've moved into this role at Wild Rye, I am wearing so many more hats. And so that to me is exciting, where one minute I get to sit down and I'm writing Instagram captions. And then the next minute I'm emailing our pro team about an event we're putting on. And then an hour later I'm working on a newsletter. And so... I don't know. I think you just kind of get into a groove and you just kind of, you do it. [laughs] I don't want to say you go through the motions, but like when you are passionate about the work that you do, it makes the daunting task of being that the voice of that brand, that much easier.

Lisa: Yes. So what are some of the things that you try to think about? Like, if you sit down to write a newsletter, is your creative process there kind of around word choice or trying to send out a certain message or kind of how, like, how granular do you get before you start the production?

Kami: Well, I'm a little bit unique in that my brain kind of works differently than a lot of people. I think about the minutia and then work my way up to the big picture. So I am thinking about tone, what photos to use, the layout, like I'm thinking about all of that before we like, actually think about topic. [laughs]

So it helps to kind of like, be reigned in a little bit and have an outline to say like, okay, Tuesday's newsletter is going to be about shipping. Thursday's newsletter is going to be about getting more followers on Instagram and highlighting these products. And then trying to go from there. But I think this kind of also feeds into your question about, “on brand.” And we can maybe get into that a little bit more later, but like when you are one person managing the brand, it's really important to find your voice. And be consistent with your voice. So are you a brand that's playful? Are you more serious? Are you willing to take risks? Are you willing to talk about politics and stand up for things that you believe in? That should emanate across all platforms that you cover, whether that's email, your website, your Instagram channel, your customer service emails. I think that that's really the place where every marketer should start is figuring out what your brand wants to sound like.

And at Wild Rye, I'm excited because we really are playful. And I think that that comes from going on a lot of group rides with women, where you're a little bit less serious. Like, we all want to stop and take selfies. We want snack breaks. We want to just like, shoot the shit. Whereas when you're riding with men, it's like race pace, let's go, let's go. Who can get to the end the fastest. And so I think that like manifests itself in our brand voice that we want to be playful. We want to be relatable. We want to be - I don't wanna say like your best friend, but like - we’re you're riding buddy. That you can always count on and like, have a little trail-side chat with, you know.

Lisa: It is true. And I think Wild Rye is phenomenal photography and marketing in general, really showing an experience that aligns with my experience of like joy riding a mountain bike.

Kami: Yeah. And I think one of the big things for us, too, is making mountain biking relatable to all women that participate. Or all that identify as women who participate in mountain biking. There are some brands, won't name names, but like, they like to highlight athletes, extreme athletes. People that climb 5.14s, people that ski these incredible lines in Alaska.

And I think for a lot of us, that's not relatable. I mean, especially for me, I have a nine to five job. I get out on the weekends and I ride, but I'm not a sponsored athlete. And so when I'm looking at other brands that I want to purchase gear from, I look at how relatable their content is. And I think for Wild Rye, it's really important that we relate to beginners, like, have you never written a mountain bike before? That's great. Let's get you on a bike. Are you really super experienced? And you can ride some of the crazy trails in Moab? Great. We want to create content for you too.

Lisa: Hm. How do you balance that when you're doing your marketing strategy, like welcoming newcomers, but also speaking at a level that will resonate with more advanced riders?

Kami: I think some of that comes down to creating different types of content. And so, as a marketer, I think this kind of goes back a little bit to your previous question. There's some strategy crossover between being a social media manager and being a marketing manager. And I definitely think that there's things that I've taken from my work at Osprey and brought to Wild Rye.

But you have to adapt them to the audience that you have and recognize where that audience is engaging with you. So, for us, it's important to be in Facebook groups where women are talking about mountain biking. That's a huge way where I get content from, or ideas to fill gaps in our content calendar. We're also looking at how do you build your athlete team? And I think that's something that we are still working to build. But we have everybody, we have a few women on our team who are newer to mountain biking who maybe started in the last six months. And we have women who have been riding bikes their whole lives, who are super experienced and who have done Enduro races. And so to speak to both of them, I think you just kind of have to talk to them. Think about or ask them what type of content they like to engage with, what gets them excited. And then utilize that to create some diversity in your content calendar.

So like maybe for the beginner riders, you're helping organize a group ride or, like, one of the pieces that we're working on is an Instagram live for these types of riders to help them get over the anxiety of maybe going on a group ride. I don't know if that's something you've ever experienced, but I think riding with a big group can be intimidating. And so we want to help those riders who are intimidated, be less so by the whole process. Because, you know, you're going to have those women who are goofy and just like bring snacks and want to take pictures. And making sure that you advertise that it's a no drop ride, that this is a, let's have so much fun and we're going to drink wine afterwards. You know, like how do we get everybody engaged and having fun at the same time?

Lisa: Yeah, I think that is a hard thing to do as an apparel brand where you're kind of building a lifestyle and a culture. And I think you do a great job at Wild Rye.

Kami: Well, thank you.

Lisa: Yeah. And the last photo shoot, was that in Sedona? I love it. It's very fun, very exciting.

Kami: We went to Fruita.

Lisa: Fruita.

Kami: Which is one of my all time favorite places to ride bikes. And we worked with Emily and she's a phenomenal photographer. I think the photographers have a really hard job, ‘cause you have to get your subjects to relax and like, realize that the camera's not there sometimes.

And Emily and Cassie did a great job. They played some music for us. There's a whole blog on our... or there's a post on our blog about that trip, just about how much fun we had, but. There were so many great shots that came out of that. And I think that kind of goes back to your question about content, is like, some of that is more extreme. We've got a rider named Alex on our pro team and she will literally drop anything. I helped her hike, her bike up this super steep desert tower. And she rode down it like a boss, like it was no big deal. But then you've got riders like me who are a little bit newer and like, I'm not dropping crazy stuff. I'm working on cornering and like making sure I have the right foot position. So I think we've got pictures that show both of those and you can utilize captions to help tell those stories and be a relatable source.

Lisa: I love that. And then like, how do you transition into winter content?

Kami: Ooh, that's tough. I just started in March, so I haven't necessarily been through that transition here. But at Osprey, we had a similar thing. We... Osprey covers a lot of different segments of the outdoors, from backpacking to skiing. And so we created very seasonal campaigns, where every month we would highlight a different product and we’d utilize different influencers and ambassadors to create content around that particular product based on whatever season it was.

And so I think it's pretty easy to transition to skiing because a lot of our pro team members do both, they ski or snowboard as well as mountain bike. But I also think that we have an amazing opportunity to tap into our customers and utilize more UGC this winter, that stands for user-generated content, to get people stoked. And I think right now we're in kind of that weird season where it's mud season. So people are still skiing, but also people are starting to mountain bike. So we're trying to figure out what is the right balance of ski photos to bike photos. ‘Cause I'm ready for bike season.

Lisa: Mhmm. Yeah, it's tough. It's tricky out there. It's like, biking in pants, or like traveling to the desert. And waiting for snow to melt. But I'm up in Whitefish and things are melting out here just fine.

Kami: Yes. Well, I'm excited for it to be summer everywhere. It was eighties in Fruita this past weekend and then I came back home to Durango and it's like mid sixties, but still totally bike weather. I have friends who went skiing on Friday. So very much still ski season too. But, I think that's tough to balance when you transition. But we've got, we have a lot of great resources when it comes to content for that stuff. And so I think we just have to lean a little bit more on our audience to help us through that.

Lisa: Totally. And production schedules, based on when you have inventory and, you know, if you want to push it or do a holiday sale or…

Kami: right.

Lisa: Yeah. It's tricky.

Kami: Yeah.

Lisa: I love talking about it, because, you know, various people in the creative process or, um, you know, perhaps like a writer doesn't really know when they're writing website content or something, they don't know what has gone into the production of the apparel or like, kind of the strategy behind it. So I always think it's fun to have these conversations.

Kami: That's an interesting topic too, because we sent out a newsletter a few weeks ago about all of the shipping delays that were happening. And about the supply chain issues that a lot of brands are experiencing right now. And I think that's really interesting stuff to share with your audience. And it's very real. We had to do a pre-order this season on a bunch of our gear because it was stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean. And so everybody's super excited to get their shorts and their mountain biking gear ‘cause the weather's warming up and... we're over here waiting for the ship to get to port and be able to unload, you know?

But I think that's kind of cool to let the audience in on some of that behind the scenes content, so that they get an idea of who you are as a brand, that there really are humans behind everything that are pulling the strings and helping everything run smoothly.

Lisa: Mhmm. I wonder if larger brands such as Osprey or even larger brands than that are able to kind of show that behind the scenes peek behind the curtain as well. Or if that's just not as common practice.

Kami: I think to some degree they are, but not as much as a smaller brand. What I really love about working at Wild Rye is everything is so real. And we want to let our customers in on that information and there's less red tape involved. I think as a bigger brand and just from my knowledge of working at Osprey, you have to get approval sometimes from higher ups to tell those types of stories, or you have to convince the higher ups that it is an engaging story, that it will translate to sales. Which at the end of the day is like every marketer's goal, you know, you want to sell more product so that you can, in turn, sell more product down the line. But I think it's also our job to be storytellers and to create this relatable content. And so I'm also in the process of writing a blog post about learning to fail. Like, remembering the first time you ever endoed, or like what's a really memorable crash you've had, or like, have you ever been on a group ride and had something really embarrassing happen? And like, how did you get over that? ‘Cause I think you need that type of content as well, which at a smaller brand is much easier to tell than it is on a larger scale. I think.

Lisa: I agree. I also find myself wondering, like, you know, the people... how you do have to sometimes go through like “higher ups” to get things pushed through at larger brands. Like. What happens to human beings, where they need to be convinced that certain kinds of content will convert sales? And you know, like, so... not out of touch, but like so many hoops to jump through to kind of get that approved. I'm always like, how do you go from being the one making the content, to like, the one who's being sold, the content.

Kami: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that goes back to our conversation about customers just not realizing the size of marketing teams. And sometimes they're small, sometimes they're big. Sometimes there's just too many cooks in the kitchen. And so... there were several times where working at Osprey, I thought I had this genius idea for a piece of content and then it had to go through an approval process and you just kind of hit a roadblock. And you're like, okay, I give up on that one. But let's find another creative idea to pursue. Whereas that Wild Rye, I feel like there's this energy to create that type of content because we're such a small team. That's the type of stuff we want to be talking about. That's the type of content our audience engages with. And for us, Instagram is the main place that happens. But I also like being very realistic and authentic. And I think in order to be authentic, you have to be willing to talk about some of those tougher topics like crashing and failing and trips not going as planned, just as much as you talk about the highlights and like what went well and celebrating the fact that someone just did this rad drop or like won this amazing contest, you know. Like, I think all of that deserves equal airtime.

Lisa: Mhmm. And I do think the power of large brands is their platforms are ginormous. And so when they are able to express stuff like that, the range is huge and the impact is massive. But yeah, I can definitely appreciate how nimble small companies are and how you get a very, like, almost holistic approach to, I don't know, putting out relevant content that's kind of in the moment and seasonal and it's so fun.

Kami: I think one of the challenges about working at a larger brand though, is the larger you are, the more critics you have. But I also think that means that you're doing it right. You're going to have critics regardless of where you work, regardless of what you say, regardless of what you stand up for.

But there were times where it was very defeating to make a post at Osprey and read through the comments section. And I think it's really important for marketers to do a lot of self care, or just, you know, people in general. I think everybody at our office is practicing self-care in different ways. And I think it's really important to unplug and be able to separate your work life from your personal life.

And that kind of goes back to the question you asked at the beginning about like, how do you know that your values align? I think that we're constantly evolving. But I think the really cool thing about marketing in the outdoor industry is that you can really grow with your industry partners. I have friends at numerous brands where I'll call them up and be like, “Oh my gosh, I just had this crazy conversation. Can I get your opinion about it?” Or like, “We just had this person leave a really nasty comment. How would you handle it?” And either get validation or help on your strategy to solve things.

And I think that there are also times where you have to sacrifice your personal beliefs at times to do what's right for your brand. But that's why it's really important too, that your values align with the brand you work for so that you're willing to give up a little bit to make the brand better and help it grow.

Lisa: Ooh. Do you have an example of that? That's a fascinating topic and it's something we run up against a lot as an agency, too.

Kami: This is kind of a big topic, but I think Black Lives Matter is a really important example of that. So, I am half Black, um, and this past year has been a huge challenge for me, not only as a woman of color, but also working for a large brand in the industry.

And, I don't want to call anybody out and think this is all pretty public knowledge. But, my personal beliefs, mostly aligned with the brand that I used to work for, but we wanted to push really hard to make a donation to a BLM organization. And there was a lot of red tape involved there. And a lot of people that had to sign off on things. And so it was my personal belief that I wanted to donate to this particular place and I fought pretty hard for it. And we ended up going in a different direction. But I think that's a great example of like, you have to be flexible.

And there were a lot of personal things that came up for me through BLM, but also like having to be the person that reads through all of those comments and responds to those comments in a professional manner, when in the back of your head, you're like cursing or like saying what you actually want to say to that customer so that when you actually write them back, it comes back professional and on brand. [laughs] But I think that was a... that was definitely a time where I sacrificed some of my personal beliefs to do what I believed was right in the brand's perspective.

Lisa: Yeah, it's a super interesting point you bring up that... I think a lot of people who run social media accounts would- are nodding their heads and agreeing with you. And it's such a customer service job, even though it's a marketing position to run social media. There's so much customer service involved in it. And it's like, I don't know. Yeah. I mean, it just reminds me of jobs that I've had where customer service was difficult, working at bike shops or landscaping, or working on asphalt crews when people were like, mean to me and just having to like smile anyway.

Kami: Yeah.

Lisa: You know, but then it's like, well, behind social media, no one even sees, they don't know it’s you. They'll never see you, they'll see the brand. And so it's even more complex.

Kami: Right. And one of the big things that I struggled with too, was like, do I out myself to these customers who are being rude and tell them my personal story and let them know that there is a woman of color who is managing this account who is heartbroken and defeated and struggling so hard to answer your question and like, make sure that it's done in a professional way. You know. And like, that was hard for me, I think. And sometimes I thought it was the right thing to do, and sometimes it just wasn't.

But you're right. There's kind of this perception that there's robots on the other end or people without feelings, when that's completely not the case. There's a human being who has feelings that get hurt sometimes.

But I think on the flip side too, like there's a positive side to customer service where you get to hear how much people love your brand and how they appreciate how you're pushing things forward. And they appreciate your message. And I think that's really rejuvenating and those are the comments that really keep me going every day and push me to want to be a better marketer.

Lisa: Yeah. It's so intense because, like, as a human always growing, always changing, always evolving and, you know, hopefully like validating yourself internally, and then also having to deal with all of this, like, external critique and external praise and... I guess, yeah, it is a lot harder to run social media accounts than I think most people realize.

Kami: Well, and it's hard to be consistent. To like share the consistent message across email, Instagram, Facebook, and now we've got like Clubhouse and TikTok and who knows what's next? You know.

Lisa: It's true. It's true. I love TikTok.

Kami: Oh my gosh. I go down TikTok rabbit holes all the time. Do I think it's right for brands? Some. Is it entertaining? Absolutely. It’s embarrassing. I've spent hours sometimes on TikTok and that little thing comes up where it's like, “you've been watching TikTok for way too long. You need to go to bed.”

Lisa: [laughs] It's true. And you're like, I'm fine!

Kami: I'm fine! I'm going to keep watching for another couple hours until you tell me that again. What do you mean, I've been sitting here for four hours?

Lisa: [laughs] It's true. It's such a time warp.

Kami: Such a time warp. You start at nine o'clock and you look down and you're like, “Holy shit. It's midnight. [laughs]

Lisa: Where did my life go?

Kami: [laughs] Oh my gosh.

Lisa: That's so funny. Cool. Well, is there anything that I haven't asked you that you'd like to share with our audience?

Kami: I mean, I think part of me wanted to talk a little bit about how brands handle the ebbs and flows of what's going on in the country right now.

Lisa: Yes, let's do it.

Kami: I think it's hard to be a brand that is willing to stand up for what you believe in. Because when you commit to that, you're also committing to losing some customers. But in my mind, it all goes back to knowing who you are as a brand and 100% being behind that. Because I think with all the political stuff that's going on right now, you're either all in or you're all out. There's no middle ground really. And working as a marketer in this day and age, it's hard because you're always going to get criticism, regardless of what statement you make, whether you're for or against whatever, you know, you're currently talking about. I think that's the hardest part is like getting everybody in your brand on board and making sure that you have a consistent message. And I don't know if you guys experience that as an agency, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that.

Lisa: Oh yeah. I mean, some of our clients are very political. Some are very not political and therefore that's political. A hundred percent. And so one person who works at WHEELIE might be running five different social accounts with five different tones and five different word choices and, you know, five very different personalities. And so, yeah, it's definitely an interesting thing as an agency to say, okay, are we only working with a certain type of client? Are we diversifying what types of clients we work with? Are we changing what types of clients we work with? And kind of like... yeah, really coming into our values as an agency for the brands we support, as well as all the humans involved. So it's incredibly nuanced. It's been, it's been a pretty rowdy year trying to navigate that.

Kami: Well I imagine that you experience some of the sacrifice we were talking about earlier, in that your personal values probably don't align with all of the choices that you make or that your clients make, about these political posts. So I imagine that can't be easy trying to transition and change voices that much.

Lisa: Exactly. It can be really hard. And then also, you know, as an agency supporting each other, because... Like, I'm not the one that's personally navigating that for our clients. And so I'm always available to the team at WHEELIE who needs that kind of support. And trying to make it a really open atmosphere to say like, “Hey, I'm encountering this. What should we do?” And I'm always like, “well, what do you want to do?”

Kami: Yeah.

Lisa: I always try to ask it back. But yeah, it's definitely... the nice thing about being an agency is that it's kind of like this eagle eye view of the whole industry, because we do work with so many brands, not just one.

And so we kind of get to keep that... looking in at your brand, like, slight outsider, but also insider. And I think that that becomes really helpful and really powerful when navigating, you know, current events and kind of advising marketing managers on what they, you know, what they want to do. And being able to provide support to our brands that do have in-house teams. So we might just do the creative for the brand while they have a whole marketing team. So, yeah, it's definitely, it's become a really human experience. I would say.

Kami: I couldn't agree more.

Lisa: Yeah. Like it's really allowed people to show their, I don't know their humanness. Ghis whole year.

Kami: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. And when you talk about creative, it reminds me a little bit of like the diversity discussion. And that for me has been challenging, moving from a large brand to now working in the bike industry, because women are a diverse group. And we're definitely niche when you look at the percentage of men that mountain bike to women that mountain bike or women that identify as mountain bikers, you know?

And so not only do I now have this hurdle of getting more women into mountain biking and skiing, but I have the hurdle of getting a diverse group of women into mountain biking and skiing. And I really enjoyed working with the ambassador team at Osprey and feel like I got a lot of experience working with a diverse background and got the team to a pretty good place when it came to that. But I think we've got a lot of work to do at Wild Rye when it comes to that, because you just don't see very many women of color skiing. You don't see very many women of color mountain biking, especially... depends on the region of the country that you live in. I grew up in Boulder. Very white. Moved to Durango, also very white. I don't have any friends that are women of color that bike. And so it's really nice to have these relationships with other marketing managers where you can talk to them about the challenge that you're experiencing and say, “do you know anybody that could help us fill this hole or do you know anybody that could help us with this concept or this project?” Because chances are there's somebody in the industry that has connections, you know? But I do think that that is another unique challenge is like, how do we not only diversify the bike world, but how do we get more women, more kids, more parents, more grandparents, like you name it. How do we just get more people on bikes?

Lisa: I... yeah, I talk about it all the time is that it's incredibly important who's behind the lens as well as who's in front of the lens. And making sure to work with BIPOC filmmakers and, you know, really it’s literally like that person's lens of the world. And so making sure that it's diverse behind the camera as well, I think is critical.

Kami: Absolutely. And I think that… we have more projects coming up that we'd like to hire more BIPOC photographers for, but I think it's a great step to also work with a female photographer when you are a female0-owned brand, for women by women.

Lisa: Definitely.

Kami: And it was huge having Emily on the shoot because she made us all feel so comfortable. She would play pump up jams for us. And like, we all got to the point where we didn't even know she was there. ‘Cause she's just another one of the girls. We're all just out there having a good time. We're not, we didn't hire a male photographer to do a women's shoot. I think... I've seen brands do that. And that to me is just such a missed opportunity that… sometimes they are just, they just don't know about it. They're ignorant to it. And so that's where the customer service piece comes in, too, is like having customers call you out and say, you know, like I saw you did this shoot with this person, like, would you consider hiring so-and-so next time. Or like, I'd love to see you create this piece of content. I think audiences now have so much more sway on what brands do and how brands move forward that we can't ignore our customer base. We have to read every single email. We have to read every single DM and respond to them and take that feedback to heart.

Lisa: It’s true, it's important.

Kami: And sometimes it's hard. I mean, being told that like, you don't have enough diversity on your website. I can’t tell you how many times we got that comment when I worked at Osprey. But even just like being out on like, group rides and stuff like hearing, “Oh yeah. We'd love to see you diversify your pro team more.” Like, “yes, me too!”

But then also kind of having the burden that I am a woman of color. So like, how do I help push that forward? I'm not enough, by myself, to do that job. So, constantly thinking about how do you push that envelope? How do you, how do we open the next door? How do we continue this conversation? And let people know, like 2020, wasn't just something that happened. And we're going to move on and forget that it happened. Like, 2020 happened and what can we learn from it? And how are we as a brand going to commit to moving forward and pushing and saying, we hear you, here's our plan.

Lisa: Woof. I love it.

Kami: Heavy. [laughs]

Lisa: Yeah. It's big. These are the big conversations. So I am so grateful that this podcast is a good place for them.

Kami: Yeah.

Lisa: You know, because I think it's important and I know that this was a hard hitting episode and I'm sure our listeners were loving it and agreeing with you. So, yeah, I thank you so much for your perspective and thoughtfulness and dialogue for sure.

Kami: Well, thank you for having me on. I'm an open door. I love having these types of conversations. So if anybody wants to drop into my DMS and continue this conversation, I'm, I'm happy to.

Lisa: Yes. And we will include links in the show notes. So where can people find you?

Kami: I am @followthebeartracks on Instagram, or you can DM Wild Rye. I'm both.

Lisa: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Kami. I've really enjoyed talking to you.

Kami: You as well. Thank you so much.

[music fades in]

Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and blessing us with your knowledge, Kami! I know your words will resonate with so many outdoor industry professionals tuning in to the show.

To you, our listeners, thank you for listening to Outside by Design. This podcast is produced by WHEELIE, a creative agency for people who thrive outside. You can find past episodes, show notes, and transcripts by visiting Follow us on Instagram @wheeliecreative and don’t forget to subscribe to the show and leave us a review!

Wishing you all a great rest of the week and a weekend full of adventures. Thanks for being here!

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