Episode 128: Trew Gear Director of Operations Katherine Donnelly on Making Things Better


"Everything that's happened in the past year or two has really pushed companies to rethink how they do business and how they interact with customers."


This week on Outside By Design: Katherine Donnelly, Director of Operations at Trew Gear. Katherine shares about her engineering background and her path to the outdoor industry, what it means to be creative as a "left-brained" person, communicating with creative team members, gracefully rolling with supply chain issues, and more.


Follow Katherine:

@trewgear

trewgear.com

@katherinejondro


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Episode Transcript


Iris: Hello and welcome to another episode of Outside By Design. My name is Iris and I want to thank you so much for tuning in to our podcast. This week Lisa got to speak with Katherine Donnelly, she is the Director of Operations at Trew Gear. And she joined us on the show to talk about working with a team that’s based across the country, how her engineering background led her to her current career, her focus on making space for underrepresented people in gear testing and feedback, and what it means to be creative as a “left-brained” person. And that short description doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything that Katherine talks about in this episode, so I can’t wait for you to hear it. Here is Katherine Donnelly.




Lisa: Katherine, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.


Katherine: Thank you so much for having me. I am stoked to be here.


Lisa: So the first question we ask every single person is where you are in the world and what you’re looking at.


Katherine: So I now live in Kingfield, Maine, which is up in the western mountains of Maine, kind of near Sugarloaf. And that's probably the closest thing that anyone knows about up here. And I am looking at my basement wall in my little cave of an office, but luckily I can look behind me and see out into our yard and some of the surrounding mountains. I just can't face it because I get pretty distracted if I look that way. [laughs]


Lisa: Nice. So you're the director of operations for Trew Gear.


Katherine: I am.


Lisa: And where's Trew based out of?


Katherine: So Trew is based in Portland, Oregon. So they... we originally started in Hood River back in 2008 and then we kind of made the shift to the Metro area... I want to say probably six years ago. Although we spend as much time as possible out at Mount Hood and Hood River and that kind of area, just because, I mean, it's home as well as it's just an amazing, beautiful spot. So you can't really beat it.


Lisa: I'm so excited to talk to you because you're a director of operations and you live on the other side of the country. And like, how is that going? What happened? Like, how did you get there?


Katherine: Yeah, this is... it's pretty new. So I moved to Maine in August, after working really hard to convince both our CEO and the rest of my team that this was an okay move and that I could do everything that I need to do from literally the opposite side of the country.


There's definitely some challenges, especially, you know, we're three hours ahead. And not being able to physically be at both our headquarters and warehouse in Portland, I've definitely had to kind of bring some of the other team members up to speed so they can help me out and be kind of my hands on the ground.


But overall, I mean, we've been pretty well set up to be… just a company that works well remotely for a while. And with COVID that kind of just continued that progression towards being able to work, you know, wherever we want to be. Um, and kind of working our own hours as well. So we're all pretty flexible and yeah, so far it's been working. But who knows? You know, it's only been four months, so we'll see, we'll make sure that things continue to progress pretty well. And if need be, then, I mean, I'll, I'll probably be making trips back to Portland pretty regularly, both to say hi to everybody and just get some things done.


Lisa: I love that. I recently… I made a really big life move and am spending the winter in Crested Butte. And the rest of my team is in Whitefish, Montana. Like, the whole company is based out of there. So yeah, once we put the business online, I was like, okay, I'm going to the sunshine.


Katherine: It's your chance!


Lisa: Yeah.


Katherine: Yeah.


Lisa: Sunshine! But anyway, yeah. So I, I feel you, it's definitely different. And it's an interesting cadence on, like, how to digitally check in with the team and make sure people feel enough support, but also enough freedom.


Katherine: Right, yeah, I mean, it's, it's kind of a continual process of just checking in and trying to figure out the right balance of like, I don't want to micromanage or anything, but I also want to make sure that we're, we're synced up and we're all on the same page. And something that's really nice and probably a huge reason why this has been working so far is that Trew is a very small team. So there are only five of us.


Lisa: What!?


Katherine: Yeah, so, we actually, yeah, we were four and then we brought on this woman, Charlotte, who's kind of taking over some of my headquarters roles as well as helping with product development. But we're a super small team. So it's really like, you know, if you need to connect with someone or you need to get all the heads together for a quick chat, it's not that hard to get, you know, the other four teammates on the phone.


Lisa: Oh, I love that. Okay. So I got to ask, how did you get... like, what is your story and how did you get into this situation and this role?


Katherine: Oh yeah. I mean, this could, this could be like a movie in itself, probably a pretty bad movie, but, yeah. I originally... I grew up back east, over here and I really, I've always been very much an introvert and was very focused on the technical side of things. And that brought me to an engineering education. And so I got my manufacturing, engineering and mechanical engineering degree… back in... 2013? Wow, that's a while ago. But, yeah, I had this passion for building and making things better. And I think my... I mean, now that, you know, 10 years later, I definitely use a lot of what I learned back then. And both, you know, I went to school for engineering as well as I worked in pretty high-level aviation technology engineering for three to four years before figuring out that it wasn't really for me. But still, I love getting really into the details and the data and crunching numbers. And so being able to, you know, that's where I found the operations side of the outdoor industry. It was… it just kind of worked.


I didn't realize it was really a career path until I heard from Chris at Trew. And he pretty much laid out a job description and I realized that that was exactly what I'd been looking for: kind of a perfect balance of, you know, getting to be technical and doing a lot of data analysis and being very focused- I get to spend a lot of time in my Excel spreadsheets, which is my happy place. But then on the other side of things, I get to work with our athletes and I get to work with, kind of, choosing colors for our products. And just, you know, every day is different and it's really exciting. And honestly, it's just super refreshing from where I came from in the engineering world, where everything was the same day in and day out. That's kind of the short story. [laughs]


Lisa: That's wild. Okay. So technical outerwear is super simple compared to aircrafts.


Katherine: It is- in a way, I mean, you can... it doesn't feel simple when you're in it, but I mean, if I start to really think back to what I was working on years ago, it is, I mean, you don't have to meet as many standards. You don't have to... you know, I worked on the quality and reliability side of aviation and the micro electronics that were used in airplanes. And pretty much it was my job to test parts and try to make them fail. And then if they didn't fail, just pretty much make sure that they were up to code and meeting all of the specs that were laid out like internationally for them. Which… it sounds kind of cool to anyone who is listening, but it's really kind of not, it's pretty boring and tedious and really... yeah. Three, four years in, I was kind of done. And realizing that I really don't have a- like, I think airplanes are cool, but I don't love them. Like I just found myself constantly looking at my ski posters and wishing that I could be, you know, finding something that's a little closer to bringing that outdoor passion to life in my career.


So I took a big jump back - again. I don't even... it must have been 2016, I think - that I ended up just quitting and finding... I was volunteering for She Jumps. I just started kind of getting my toes into the industry out in Portland and meeting people and making connections, and that kind of eventually led to finding a job in content marketing for an old publication, that's called Outdoor Project. And then from there I worked in a bike shop. And then I got the call from Chris and now I work at Trew. So it's been a weird windy road, but I... yeah, I could not be more excited about where I am and what's to come with Trew.


Lisa: Wow. You are very interesting.


Katherine: [laughs] I'm just, I'm an onion.


Lisa: Yeah. Lot of layers.


Katherine: I’ve got layers. [laughs]


Lisa: Yeah. [laughs] And so we got connected because I saw a comment you put on the Facebook Basecamp group.


Katherine: Oh yeah.


Lisa: About gear testing.


Katherine: Yes.


Lisa: And so let's talk about that. What do you have going on with trying to find gear testers?


Katherine: Yeah. So gear testing, gear reviews, all, kind of, that entire segment of the industry… I think there's definitely a lot of gaps and a lot of opportunities for both brands themselves as well as the publications that really work on pushing out those really authentic and real reviews. Especially this time of the year when people are, you know, for snow sports, they're looking to buy skis and outerwear and all of those hard goods and soft goods.


And October/November is that time when magazines push out gear guides and Online posts their, you know, their editors’ choices and yeah, I've kind of taken over the PR for Trew as just, we're just trying different avenues of getting new customers and new faces in our gear. And over the past year and a half or so, I've just... I've started to feel like there's not a huge amount of attention to the female side of soft goods, in outerwear in particular.


And I know... we're definitely, again, we're a really small company. We don't have a huge amount of budget nor do we have that massive amount of brand awareness or exposure. And so I do know that, you know, if someone from Arc'teryx or The North Face contacted one of these publications, I think they might hear back a little sooner and a little quicker, and they might have more resources available to them.


But at least from my experience, we've definitely hit a lot of walls getting our gear in the hands of females to be tested and reviewed. And that hasn't been as difficult or really the case for the men's side. So it's been a really interesting experience because, really… I guess this is how we connected, was... I posted to this Facebook group full of these incredible women in the outdoor industry, kind of bringing up my experience and what I've observed as well as just reaching out and trying to... you know, if I can't get connected to these women that I'm looking to put into our gear to just thrash the heck out of our stuff, if I can't do that through the normal methods, maybe I can get connected through word of mouth. Or just, yeah. Meet some of these ladies and get them in some of our bibs. Which, that post went extremely... like, it was so successful. Not only did I connect with you and now I'm here, but I've been talking to so many women ever since that post and we've gotten at least probably 12 ladies in our gear for testing, whether they work for publications or not. You know, we have a few women who are ski patrollers. We have kind of just an assortment of ladies who use their gear in very different ways.


And I really want to just know more about how our gear stands up and how we can do better in the future. So I feel like it's almost a win, because even if it's not one of those traditional gear guide or review publications, I'm getting a more connected relationship with the person who's in our gear. And it's going to be more longstanding, hopefully, and more of a long-term test. And hopefully just building that relationship, so, you know, in the future we can just keep working with these women and build out the team and just keep getting that raw data. Which again, I, yeah, I love just hearing all the feedback and figuring out, you know, “Okay. So-and-so said this, here's…” like, spotting trends and figuring out like, pretty much just problem-solving. It's kind of a throwback to my education and my upbringing, but in a whole different light. And it’s really fun.


Lisa: Yeah, that's fascinating.


Katherine: It's been... it's been really interesting too, just hearing, like, past just making those connections and getting gear in the hands of people, I definitely, I got to hear about other people's experiences with the same sector of the industry. And some people hadn't really felt that, which, I've been talking to them more and more about, you know, I just want to know your experiences and just learn - I feel like just being able to learn from each other is such an important tool. But also hearing from other women who, you know, they might not fit into that classic athletic shape. And they're feeling like even if there are female reviews and gear guides out there, they aren't catering to the different sizes and shapes of the women who are actually out there. Which, I mean, is... it's definitely a growing trend where more and more like, I think a lot of brands are starting to think more in terms of plus size or extended sizing and just creating more options for all of the different bodies and shapes out there. And hopefully that'll start to show more in the gear that's reviewed and showed in these publications as well.


Lisa: That's awesome. I ride in a men's Trew jacket.


Katherine: Yeah! I also ride in a men’s Trew jacket. [laughs]


Lisa: Yeah. And I like it and I like how long it is.


Katherine: We do make pretty long - whether people like it or not, some people do, some people don't, but - our stuff is on the longer side. Yeah.


Lisa: I think you gotta dress big to go big.


Katherine: I love that. I could totally relate, although I don't go very big anymore, but. I go big behind the screen. That's about it.


Lisa: [laughs] That's awesome. I think, I think you're a really interesting blend of left and right brain, like you're very... and a lot of our listeners are creatives. And so I think it's really interesting to speak with an operations person who sounds like a creative.


Katherine: See, I was, I will be honest. I was very nervous about this because I've listened to your podcast, pretty much every episode. And I love it, because I'm always on the hunt for ways to kind of tap into my creative side. And I would never, in a thousand years, consider myself to be creative. And I'm lucky because my team... I am the left brain to... pretty much our marketing and our CEO, they're all right brains... I think I'm getting it right. So they're very creative and I'm kind of the behind the scenes, like, make things happen.


But it's been a really cool blend and I feel like over the past two years we've really traded off and worked together to both kind of grow each other's, you know… my creative side is blossoming as well as, you know, they're learning more ways to stay organized and execute in a timely fashion, which is my strong suit, but not everybody's.


So it's... yeah, creativity is kind of this weird taboo word for me, just because I've never related to it. But I feel like my work at Trew and my role and just... probably just aging and maturing, now I'm starting to kind of embrace that side of myself and learn how to tap into it more, which is super uncomfortable, but it is pretty fulfilling.


Lisa: Yeah. And I think anytime that there's... I always use the word conflict because - and then people sometimes get a little freaked out by conflict, but - if there wasn't a need for a solution, then there wouldn't be as much creativity. And so, it sounds like you're just so curious and like gathering information and, you know, you're not only wanting positive reviews, like you're kind of like going after that with a really curious mindset to improve the gear.


Katherine: Yeah, no, I'd say, I guess in a way I've always just thought of it as like very analytical and in my way, or like my approach to problem solving. But when it's all said and done, you do have to be creative in order to come up with new and fresh solutions. I'll take it. Yeah


Lisa: Oh, that's awesome. How cool. And then I wanted to ask you, I saw an article that you had written on the Trew website that was titled Why Launch Winter Outerwear in June.


Katherine: Oh God. Yeah. Yeah.


Lisa: So tell me, like, let's talk about that. Because supply chains are messed up and I love seeing what, specifically winter sports brands are doing, but, kind of like, yeah. What's that about for you guys?


Katherine: Yeah, we actually... it must have been two years ago, we started to kind of mess around with a second winter launch of gear. And so ideally, and I think it was 2019 that we launched... actually it was 2020. We launched the first spring edition of our outerwear. And it came out in February and it was great. People loved it. We kind of restocked on some of the, kind of, favorite or traditional classic colors, so black as well as like a neutral tone, but we also launched like a brand new lineup of different colors.


And we also were able to make some updates to all of our our outerwear. So we launched a few jackets as well as a few bibs, and we were able to take all of the feedback from customers in kind of earlier in the season and bring that into this new launch. So we tried to do that again last year, which is where that article came, because we did not get the gear until I think the end of May.


And I know... I think for most companies that work primarily in the winter, having a huge, massive order of brand new outerwear show up in May would just be kind of a dead deal. Like, you would probably sit on it until fall and - which we definitely, we talked about for awhile. We were like, should we just hold onto it until September and launch it then?


But we had demand. We also were based in the PNW where skiing really is a year-round activity. And while, I mean, it's definitely, you know, you're working from an e-commerce standpoint, so you're also thinking, “okay, nothing on the market right now is at full price. So why would we launch something and have it at, you know, 30, 40% off to match our competitors?” Because everyone's already launched their spring sales.


And so we kind of just… we launched a new colorway and, you know, again, they had updates and tweaks based on the feedback from that season. And so we had answered a few kind of major tweaks that people had brought up. We had removable powder skirts added. We had a few other, like, you know, the fit was adjusted a bit based on, you know, people were reporting, the thighs were too tight. And so we made changes. And we brought the new color out and we had this whole story about us going to Crater Lake in July with this new gear. And it was awesome.


I mean, it's, it's definitely… like, you know, we didn't sell out, and we eventually marked it down to the rest of the gear later on in the summer, which I think is what we expected to be doing.


But, especially in these times where you're, you really have no concrete timeline and you have no idea when something's actually going to finish being in production or get on a boat or even dock at your port, there's just nothing concrete about it. And you know, right now my life is full of getting calls that I just have more and more delays on our outerwear that we're still waiting for. And that's just kind of how it is.


And, I mean, we just kind of have to deal with the punch- or, roll with the punches as they come in and really make the best of the situation. The fact that we even have outerwear to sell is kind of miraculous, considering all of the stuff going on in the world. And so, you know, your being late by a month or two months, yeah, it's not ideal, but, you know, it could be a lot worse. And we're just kinda happy that we, you know, we made it through that first initial COVID breakout where... we all sort of... everyone at Trew kind of took a break and we were hoping that we'd make it through the storm. And here we are, bigger and stronger and hopefully better. I think we're better.


So yeah, it's, it's a weird time, but we're... we're definitely, again, we're a small team and because of that, we're super agile. And yeah. When gear shows up late and shows up in the middle of the summer, we're gonna figure something out and make a story out of it and have fun and try and sell some gear.


Lisa: Oh, man. That's amazing. That's so interesting to me. It's been fascinating, as a creative agency, to see how different brands and different humans are like rolling with the punches. And, yeah, I think I,...I don't know. I think it's allowing for a lot of creativity and a lot of humanity and...


Katherine: Yeah, I think it's actually been really cool seeing… I think we're all now in a very similar boat in the outerwear world where large companies, small companies, we're all dealing with the same issues right now. Which is not something that - I mean, I wouldn't say we're on a level playing field, but we're very close. Like, you know, so many things are different between, you know, comparing us and Patagonia where, you know, we're very different brands. We're very different sizes and scopes, but we're dealing with the same supply chain and freight issues. And it's been really cool to see how these bigger companies are opening up and sending out emails, being super transparent.


And, you know, I subscribe to pretty much every outerwear company's email, just cause I'm curious and yeah, I mean getting emails from Burton and from The North Face, and they're all being super open and raw about what they're dealing with.


I think- I've always been a huge fan of transparency and that's something that I bring to my job as well as just kind of every facet of my life and getting to see that transparency coming through from these massive corporations is something that I don't think I've ever... I don't think I ever would have guessed we would see. But it's been pretty cool to see how, you know, everything that's happened in the past year or two has really pushed companies to rethink how they do business and how they interact with customers.


And I think on the other end of that is the amount of power that consumers have now. And just, you know, they're... they're really, they're pushing for more transparency as well as more value, like value-driven commerce. And I think... I'm not a huge social media fan, but I do appreciate what it's been doing for pushing companies to become more innovative and creative in how they do business. And I think it's pushing all of us to work harder, to just be better as businesses. So I hope it continues. I hope we all continue to do good work and just be open and honest. And I guess that's all I can really ask for.


Lisa: Yeah, that's beautiful. I like your blend of optimism and reality. Just like, “yep. This is happening, but here it is.”


Katherine: That's kind of, yeah, that's my M.O., is... people used to say I was a pessimist. I might've been a pessimist back in the day, but I'm definitely, I always came back and was like, no, I'm just realistic. And I think over time I've become more optimistic and just hoping for the best but being ready for the worst. That's kind of my mentality about things. And if the worst happens, then yeah, you just got to deal with it. [laughs]


Lisa: Yeah. That's a great perspective, I think. Is there anything I haven't asked you that you think our audience would like to know from the director of operations?


Katherine: Mmm. That's a good question. [laughs] It's so broad. Um…


LIsa: Yeah, the point I think is super interesting is that normally we have, like, photographers and videographers on our podcast. And so it's really interesting to talk to someone who kind of has to deal with all our messes and make something out of them in a way, or like, prove ROI or like kind of what do you do with your spreadsheets?


Katherine: Oh, yeah.


Lisa: How do you… like, how do you communicate that back to creatives?


Katherine: It's... yeah, I mean, this is definitely a brand new world for me, of like, interacting and working with the creative side, so kind of in hand with them, both, you know, my, my colleagues at Trew, as well as, you know, working with our media team and working with all of our ambassadors who, you know, they're out there creating content, you know, whatever that might be. They might be writing blogs. They might be creating fun Tik Tok videos. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's almost like I have been learning a whole different language of... like, I realized that my brain works differently than a lot of people and I've had to learn how to almost translate my own thoughts and how, you know, when I send over an Excel spreadsheet to my team, I need to make sure that it's, it's not exactly like - you know, when I initially write down something and put it in a spreadsheet it's in there in the way that my brain works.


But I've started to have to kind of create a whole new process for myself to then translate everything over and create a much more user-friendly kind of commonsensical method. And I think, I mean, it's, it's honestly helped my own processing and the way that I analyze the information that I'm getting. Because I mean, both, I have to go through the information twice.

But then I also. Looking at it from a different perspective. And then, you know, I get to talk with these people. Who's, you know, they're using different parts of their brain and they're approaching things in such a different way, and it really has been enlightening. And it opens my eyes to just, you know, all of these other opportunities and different ways to think about just everything.


And that's something that... I've also, kind of on a personal note, I’ve started to dabble in photography as well. And this is something that's, you know, a very personal process and something that I love deeply. Like it's, it's something that I've really discovered in the past few years. And that in itself has also, I mean, that's instilled a huge amount of confidence in myself.


It's something that like, I can't draw or paint or anything. And I think that's been - traditionally, in my head - that's been what a creative is. It's very artistic, very fluid, and that's something that I'm not. But with photography, I've been able to find that channel where, like, I'm not claiming to be good, but I'm... I can see the progression and I'm getting better. And I'm able to create, you know, these moments of beauty that I don't think... like I never thought I'd have the capacity to, you know, have the patience or even like the, the idea or the style to even like sit down and think about a composition.


And so photography has been a huge point in my life, both, you know, pushing me from a personal level as well as pushing me to become a better employee and a better boss. As I work with, you know, all of these different creatives in the outdoor industry. And I think, I don't know. I mean, the outdoor industry is so special because there are so many stories to tell, but at the same time, there's also a ton of stories being told, and there's this continual push and really this desire to tell new stories in new ways.


And I think that's where, you know, when you see that new film, or you read that new story, that just takes things from a whole different perspective and flips it on its head and you just get goosebumps and chills and it's just like, it really hits you. And it resonates with you. I think that's what we're all after, is, just how can we be fresh and really do justice to a story by telling it in a unique and special way?


And I'm definitely not, you know, working alone over here, but we're definitely, you know, we're, we're working as a team to try and do that with our own little Trew flare of being... we're pretty weird. And we're always open to try new things and experiment, which I think is pretty evident in some of the stuff that we put out, both on Instagram and elsewhere. But I mean, we're not afraid to get weird and... maybe, I mean, we try not to offend anyone. We just try to have fun. But, you know, sometimes I'm sure we might step on some toes here and there. And that's just kind of, I think that's also just part of pushing what content and media and storytelling can look like. Man, that was a ramble and a half.


Lisa: No, my heart is just bursting with like connective energy to you! Because I think that's so special and I'm so happy that you found photography and like... I find it so fascinating with creativity that often people are like, “oh, well, someone else made a ski movie. I should never make a ski movie.” And it's like, oh, it'd be like the same thing as saying, like, “oh, there's an Italian restaurant in New York. So why would I make one here?” Right? Um, you know, or like just being like, oh, if something exists, so I don't need to ever make one. And it's like, that's like this weird thing that creatives do. And it's like, well, no one's going to make that ski movie just how you do.


Katherine: Yeah. And I think I... I come from kind of that thinking of like, I used to be like, “well, okay, like there's already something like that. Why would you - like, why spend your time reinventing the wheel?” Because that's a very logical engineering thing to think. And, but then I like the more I get... really immerse myself into this creative team, this creative process, and becoming a creative myself... I'm realizing that your story could be so similar to someone else's, but the way it's told and the way it's shown and then the way it's pushed out and the people who- you know, it's, it's seen by different people- it really, I think it ties back to the whole goal of like, why are you making, you know, why are you investing in this project? And if you're... I'm assuming you want people to see it and take something from it and be moved by it. And I think if there's a place to move just one more person with your project, even if it's a very similar story to someone else's, then, you know, go for it. It's... I think there's so much, there's like never-ending space in this creative world and I've yet to hear anyone who's come back from a project or pushed something out and regretted it. And even if they're not fully satisfied with the finished product, I think it's so much more about the process and the experiences along the way. And that sounds so corny, but I mean, it's cliche for a reason. It's true.


It's like, you know, it's just like going out for a tour. If you're, if you're going up and really focusing only on the downhill, that... you're missing out on the bulk of the day, and you know, you're spending most of your time walking uphill just for that 15, 20 minutes of downhill. And I've... that's something that, you know, back when I was a kid, I would never walk uphill to do any of this, but now it's… I love going downhill still, but going up is just such a different rush and it's just such a different experience. And I think I've fully learned to love and really found myself in taking it slower and just appreciating what it takes to get to the summit, whatever that summit is, you know. I'm not actually going to summits of things. I rarely reach peaks, but wherever that summit is. You know. [laughs]


Lisa: I feel you. It’s the creative process, not the creative perfect.


Katherine: Yeah.


Lisa: You know, because like in creativity, what you make probably won't work. And so you try it again and you try it again and you try it again and then you're onto something.


Katherine: Yeah. And just being open to adaptability and being open to changes. And that kind of ties back to me being- you know, you kind of have to deal with what’s thrown at you and roll with the punches. And I think that's the same for, especially on larger projects, you’ve got to handle, you know, there's so many moving parts and not everything's going to go to plan. And I think I never would have dreamed of saying this even a few years ago, but I almost like when things go wrong. Because it just… I don't like it at the moment, it's going to be… it's a type two fun kind of thing. But I know every year something's gonna like, kind of be off on a product or, you know, we're going to have a customer service issue or something. And I don't like it at the moment, but when we come out and, you know, emerge from the end, I always look back on it, pretty fondly. And I might be kind of weird and a rarity for being like this, but I've always loved having the opportunity to be better. And, yeah, I mean, I come from that continual process background, that was kind of my niche in the engineering world and just always going in and looking for ways to become more efficient and, you know, reduce waste, mostly in a manufacturing plant, but now I get to do that in our processes as a team. And then also just looking at - you know, that created a problem solver in me that is always looking at the whole picture as well as, you know, very acute moments and thinking, okay, “how, how can we kind of take this and bring it to the next level?”


I guess, yeah. I mean, now that we're talking about this, it's like, I'm realizing how much I've changed since starting at Trew and how much more kind of middle ground I am now. Being kind of that… I might be tiptoeing towards the wall on the right side of my brain. I might be... I'm looking at it. I can see it. And that's probably... I don't think I've ever seen it before. So, you know, it's just, it's kind of a cool testament to the fact that you can always change and always learn and progress, which is pretty sweet. [laughs]


Lisa: Wow.


Katherine: I'm getting all, like, weird over here.


Lisa: No, that’s... it's amazing. This is a hell of an interview.


Katherine: No, this is like, this is like an intervention! What are you doing to me? [laughs]


Lisa: So good! I could talk to you all day. Yeah, you're amazing. I, yeah. Thank you so much for answering this wholeheartedly and like, I don't know, just being a fascinating, awesome human. So.


Katherine: That's what I'm here for. [laughs]


Lisa: Yeah. Where can people follow you or find you or reach you?


Katherine: Man, I mean, you can always find me at Trew gear. I'm literally just katherine@trewgear.com. I will answer all emails. I love talking to people. Mostly on email, don't call me. And I'm on Instagram @katherinejondro, which is my maiden name. And that's, yeah, I'm not super active in social, but I'm in there.


Lisa: Cool. Wow. Well, thank you so much for your time. This was amazing.


Katherine: Thank you. This was great.




Iris: Thank you so much, Katherine, for joining us on the show. And thank you so much to you, our listeners, for tuning in. If you have a moment, please leave us a review on iTunes, that really helps us grow the show. Or, if you know someone who would be interested in a podcast about creativity in the outdoor industry, send them our show! That really helps us grow with like-minded folks as well.


You can find back episodes and show notes at wheeliecreative.com/podcast. And you can follow us on Instagram @wheeliecreative. And until next time, thanks for being here.



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