Episode 138: Senior Creative Director at Outdoor Research Kat Schoewe on Leading With Passion


"You don't end up working in the outdoor industry if you don't love nature and the outdoors."


This week's guest has a long career of outdoor industry leadership under her belt - it's Kat Schoewe, Senior Creative Director at Outdoor Research. Kat discusses her learnings over 20 years of leading design teams, rebranding a brand internally, being a creative director at a brand versus at an agency, and so much more.


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@outdoorresearch


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Descript





 

Episode Transcript


Kat: When I started in this industry, you know, my first OR… I think there were maybe a dozen women in the halls of Outdoor Retailer, and a bunch of plaid shirt-clad guys, you know, in zip off pants and, you know, and it was not a very, it was not a very women-centric or women-welcoming industry. When I started in the bike industry, I felt the same way. I think that's very much changing, you know, and I think that that change has been, has been quite welcome. And I'm excited to see it.


[intro music]


Iris: Hello and welcome to another episode of Outside By Design! My name is Iris, I host the show alongside Lisa Slagle, and as always, the show is brought to you by WHEELIE, a modern creative agency and production company for the outdoor industry.


This week Lisa interviewed the incredible Kat Schoewe, Senior Creative Director at Outdoor Research. Kat has over 20 years of leading design teams in the outdoor industry under her belt, and she dives right into the leadership lessons she’s learned over her career, the similarities between parenting and leadership, balancing collaboration with individual creative time, and more. This one is full of goodies, enjoy!



[music]



Lisa: Awesome. Well, Kat, thank you so much for being here today and I am so excited to talk to you.


Kat: Thank you. Thank you for having me.


Lisa: The very first question we ask everyone is to describe where you are and what you're looking at.


Kat: All right. So I am in our Seattle office here at Outdoor Research. We are actually back to work post-pandemic, which is kind of an amazing thing. I know a lot of people are still working remotely or, or working in a hybrid model. We are… most of our teams are back in the office about three days a week, some more, some less. And so I am sitting at my desk, to the right of me is the view of the beautiful Seattle skyline because we're in SoDo. So we get to stare at the big cranes in the port of Seattle and at the Seattle skyline. Behind me is a giant corkboard with all of our colored up - believe it or not - Fall 23 ski line, pinned up on the board behind me. And then I have a pretty, I would say a pretty messy desk right now. So. [laughs]


Lisa: Cool. Well, you're… I was researching you before we got on and your LinkedIn resume is stacked. You have worked at a lot of big name brands and I'm super curious what your story is and how did you end up becoming the senior creative director of Outdoor Research?


Kat: Ah, oh boy.


Lisa: That's such a big question. What is, what's your story? How'd you get there?


Kat: That is, that is a huge question. So, you're right. I have been leading design teams for about 20 years and really, landed there quite with intention. So I think every story that, that you think about comes with a set of mentors and muses that help you reach your potential and kind of lead you along your careers. So I'd like to tell that story through the lens of the five muses or mentors that I think have really propelled me to who I am today. And that's, you know, that's a design leader who loves what they do.


So the first one is, I mentioned that I'm Polish. So the first person that has really propelled me to, to grow and to be where I am today is my father. And that sounds really corny, but, yeah. I grew up moving around in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, and eventually landed in the US thanks to a dad who believed that taking his kids out of the bread lines of Eastern Europe and showing them the endless possibility of adventure would alter their worldview and allow them a brighter future and push them to be their best selves. I am the people leader that I am today because of the lessons that I learned from him. So he was, and is, a humble leader, and also a person that leads with love. And he has an incredible work ethic, putting in 80 hours a week on average, and still having the time to raise us.


So he's the reason for my relentless work ethic and why I've put into everything that I do 110%. His love for art and encouragement of my creativity is what landed me in the fashion school in New York that I ended up going to, which is FIT, shout out to FIT. And he also encouraged me to shift at, at a certain point in my career from being just an individual contributor, to being a leader, and understanding that I can be more than just a designer and that I can lead, lead design teams.


So out of FIT I landed a couple of fashion jobs on Seventh Avenue. I very quickly realized that that was not my path. I'm an outdoors person. I grew up skiing. I grew up riding horses. I, you know, I'm… I'm one of those people that really breathes deeply when I go outside and I find, you know, every weekend I find a hill to ski or a forest to hike or, you know, some water to paddle, like… that’s just who I am as a person. And working in Manhattan on Seventh Avenue on clothes that were disposable was just… it was just antithetic to my personal journey.


And so we very quickly jumped on to an opportunity to - my husband and I - jumped onto an opportunity to move to the Midwest to join Land's End and start designing product there. Great opportunity, huge learning experience. Land’s End back then was an incredible brand. I think they've gone through some brand evolution since, but I learned a ton and actually started doing a lot more outerwear and outdoor product there. Which actually leads me to the second person that influenced me and kind of propelled me to the next step.


So while at Land's End, I was fortunate enough to represent Land’s End and at a Gore women's leadership conference, which is something that Gore-Tex used to do back in the early two thousands, mid two thousands, where they brought women from the outdoor industry together for these multi-day retreat seminars. And you know, we would have women from The North Face and women from Arc'teryx and women from all sorts of different brands come together in the room, funded by Gore to sit around and just talk about, you know, how do we change the outdoor industry to be more female-focused? How do we build products that are better for women?


And then Gore of course, because it was sponsoring, it took that information and, and conveyed that into building materials that were, you know, maybe a little bit more female friendly or, you know, use that as market insights. But at one of these amazing seminars, I met this woman named Fran Philip, who was at the time Chief Merchandising Officer for L.L.Bean. And Fran, after about spending a day with me said, “I know you like Land’s End, but you know, you really need to come to Maine.” Like, “this is… you, you really need to come and visit us and you need to come spend time with us because you need to come work for us.”


And I said, nah, you know, I'm not, I'm not moving halfway back across the country to the east coast. But somehow she convinced me to fly out there. And when I did, I stepped off the plane and I called my husband and I said, “I don't know yet if I want to work for these people, but I want to live here.” And so we ended up spending almost a decade in Maine working for an amazing brand and living an amazing lifestyle, having two little kiddos that grew up barefoot in Maine and… just having an amazing adventure.


Fran was an amazing female leader. And because I encountered her early in my career, I really learned a ton from her about how to lead teams. She was one of those leaders that elevated all the strong women around her and challenged them to be their best selves. And she really pushed the outdoor industry to accept female leadership.


You know, even as she showed up in stilettos to work to a hunt/fish design meeting, you know, and all of these guys who had like, you know, camo vests and duck calls on their, you know, on them were just like rolling their eyes. But, you know, it was, it was very much a moment of saying, you know what, I am who I am and I too can sit at this table.


And she also taught me that there was no limit to what I can do. And so she threw me into the deep end of the pool to prove it. So I am admittedly a vegetarian who grew up in New York City for all intents and purposes. And my second year at Bean, she put me in charge of the leadership team on the hunt/fish team and said, here are all of these surly, you know, guys who have been here for 27 years, who go hunting in the morning before they come into work, do something with that. You know, which was just… and, and so by the end of my time at Bean, I was responsible for all of outdoor design and jokingly called it swimsuits to shotguns. That was, that was really the range of my responsibility. So I had women's swimwear. I had kids outerwear. I had fluffy hats and accessories, bags and kayaks and bikes and boats and hunt/fish, which included, you know, guns and knives and camo outfits and, you know, kind of all of that spectrum of product under one design direction, which was a really interesting challenge. And honestly, one that I haven't been able to repeat anywhere else, because I don't think any other brand that I've worked for since has had such a wide spectrum of products that, you know, the target basically the same or very similar customer, you know, and where you have to be able to apply your design thinking or your design empathy towards such diverse problems to solve.


So while I… you know, as I transitioned from a mid-level individual contributor to leading large teams at Bean, another Bean leader was also highly influential and that's Tom Armstrong. And one of the things that Tom taught me, Tom was the CMO at being after Fran retired. And one of the things that he taught me was my value as a teacher and as a coach. And the fact that that value exceeds my value as an individual contributor. So while I am, I think, a pretty good designer, I mean, you know, all things being equal, I strive to be a much better leader than an individual contributor. And, and I think that was the lesson that Tom had taught me. He always started with the why. He had the start with the why approach and asking inquisitive, mind blowing questions and, you know, and being a servant leader. And that was really a mini MBA for me as I built my personal leadership style. And he's the reason why I always leave a lot of slack in the line when I'm dealing with my teams and I let my team reach the summit first, you know, making the really corny climbing analogy of, you know, you just, you, you really want to… as I lead, I really want to make sure that I am prioritizing the needs of my team and their success as they, as they propel forward.


So after about almost a decade, eventually it was time to leave Bean and, kind of, you know, just, it was time for me to grow past Bean, is what I would say, and take a plunge into a mega brand. So for me, that was UA. And the leader there who really both inspired me and challenged me was Kip Fulks. So Kip was one of the co-founders, is one of the co-founders of Under Armour. And he actually brought me to UA and he was the coach that told you things that you didn't want to hear. Right? So you'd hate it, but it always rang true. And you knew that you needed to up your game because you are now in the majors and not in the minors. And so you had to just step it up. And it was that he practiced that radical candor, and the like, always step it up, always wanting more like what's next, what's next, what's next philosophy. And always push for the impossible and made you realize that really impossible is possible. Right? So he's, he kind of taught me this infectious optimism that I can pretty much do anything because you know, I did. And, but he's also the reason why I'm so hard on myself and I'm always pushing for more and not settling for good enough. So when I left UA, I practiced that on a daily basis in, in the few places that I've been between UA and now at OR. And I obviously practice it at OR.


So I left UA and launched headfirst into a startup. And so I worked in a WeWorks office, with… at the beginning, two other individuals. So it was the three of us in a WeWork office launching a triathlon brand. In 12 months. Concept to, to execution.


And… which was just one of those incredible experiences where you get to work on product that is purpose-driven, athlete-led, highly technical. You're interacting with a lot of athletes and end users who are telling you their problems and helping you to come with the design solution, very pure design process.


But also because there are three of us in the WeWork… I mean, really three of us, like me doing all the product, another guy doing all of the marketing and then another person doing all the sales.


Lisa: Wow.


Kat: We eventually hired a few more people and, you know, got to be about half a dozen of us, but it, you know, it means that you have to wear a lot of hats. You have to… that startup experience is honestly one of the most valuable, I think, in all of my career. And I would encourage everybody who is interested in product to be a part of a startup because you learn so much, it is like a crash course in design development, sourcing, inventory planning.


I mean, I was… on a daily basis… I was designing the product or, you know, or working with contract designers on designing the product. Talking to factories, translating care labels in Google translate because we couldn't afford a translator. You know, just, just basically doing everything, you know, designing packaging, flying to Asia, looking at prototypes, then flying to a race and fitting them on athletes. So just really kind of a whirlwind crazy experience. And I love bikes and I love to run. I am not an expert triathlete, but it was also just the connection to the things that I love, which is, you know, being athletic in the outdoors.


And after about a year we launched, and right around that time, I got a call from… one of those great calls from a headhunter that just aligned deeply with who I am and what I was looking for at the time. And that was from Pearl Izumi. So I got recruited by Pearl Izumi to come in and work with them and really build up their design team and also help them navigate through a pretty big project in uncovering their design DNA. Going through their archives and finding those nuggets of DNA that make them who they are and creating a comprehensive design guidelines document for their teams going forward on how to navigate their past, present and future.


And we were also at the time celebrating the anniversary. So there was a, there was a great effort to both. To both celebrate the brand as it was, and then also take them into the next, um, the next 70 years of their journey. And so I spent a lovely… a little over a year commuting to Boulder, Colorado from Portland, Oregon. And at the end of that time, I got another one of another one of those kismet phone calls and it was from the fifth person on my, on my mentor list. And that's Michelle Wardian. So Michelle is… a leader whom I've known throughout my career. I first met her when I was working at Land’s End, so here's the things coming full circle. And she invited me to come and join Outdoor Research and build a team here. There is a team of female leaders here, which is really what brought me here. So our, our chief merchant who I report to, Liz Wilson, is an amazing female leader who has decades in this industry, leading merchandising and product teams. We have many leaders on our, on both our executive team and our leadership team. And then our almost entire product team is female. And so Michelle is one of those people that… she's a connector. So she's a quiet leader who asks probing questions and pushes the team to excel.


And so whether that's sustainability, inclusivity, expansive growth, she's always, you know, kind of quietly influencing and, and pushing us to do better and has this really incredible inquisitive mind and relentless spirit and humility. And she taught me a lot about what it means to have staying power as a female leader in our market, you know, knowing somebody for 20 plus years and growing with them and, and cultivating those connections, I think is one of those things that, that is really important for us as, as female leaders is, you know, working together and staying connected and, and helping each other throughout our careers. So.


So yeah, so that's what brought me to OR, and in the past, now, close to three years, I've been building up our design team here. We're…, we've undertaken some pretty incredible initiatives. The team is growing. The brand is growing and it's… it's just a really exciting time to be at OR And that was a really long way to answer that question.


Lisa: Yeah. But it's fascinating. I love how you framed that around your mentors and muses and, I… yeah, I feel so lucky to be speaking with you. And I'm trying to decide where I want to go. I have so many questions written down about leadership, and then you answered a lot of those. So I think I want to ask you, like, as a senior creative director, how do you personally lead brainstorms?


Kat: So it was different before the pandemic and the pandemic I think has changed some of it. So we… I always start with the why, honestly. And that's, you know, that's one of those things that I think helps to frame up every design challenge. So if we're posed with a brainstorm or a design challenge and, you know, and, and I want to catalyze people's capacity to create and, you know, and have them, have them unlock ideas that are not commonplace or that are, you know, that, that really solve the problem and, and are unexpected… framing up the, the why, the challenge. What are we, what are we trying to solve for? And then challenging the user perceptions, I think is the, is the most important thing. And before the pandemic and even, and even through the pandemic, we've always here at OR convened diverse groups of people into these… into these brainstorms. And brought in diverse points of view. So that might be, you know, that might be end-users with designers and marketing people and PMs, it might be internal end users who are passionate about, you know, a specific sport. And then just asking lots of questions, having a… leading through a sticky note exercise, I love Post-it notes. And so that's what I mean by it's a little different, it was a little different throughout the pandemic.


We utilized some digital post-it note tools that allowed us to have those brainstorms digitally. And it actually propelled us to be better at it, because it propelled us to organize those sticky notes in a more, you know, in a more concise way, it allowed every voice to be heard.


So I've actually become a big fan of digital brainstorms now. Using… I use Idea Flip, but I mean, there are many, many other tools. And because it's, it takes the intimidation out of the process. Everyone's post-it note is equal. You don't know who's posting it. You actually don't…. you know, there's no judgment because you're just digitally putting a post-it note onto a board. And then, you know, and then people get to actually debate them and evaluate them, but you're not standing up there in front of a large group, putting yourself out there and being scared. And I think that sometimes is an obstacle for people to, you know, to, to really put out those wildest ideas, those ideas that are maybe not so conventional that, you know, and think differently.


I think one of the things that recently has been different about leading those, those creative brainstorms is that there's a lot of ambiguity. And honestly, we have to, as leaders, we have to navigate that ambiguity and lead through that ambiguity. So whether that's, you know, whether that’s consumers rapidly shifting, whether that's the supply chain mess that we're in and having to navigate that and having to navigate around that, we really need to all think differently. And so that idea of just kind of blindly evaluating ideas and having the, having, throwing out there, things that are outside the box is something that I really, that I really love.


Lisa: I think that your answer is so great. And to kind of take away that vulnerability of presenting something in person and having a digital post-it note where everything is weighted equally feels kind of refreshing. I think that's a positive outcome from all the changes.


Kat: Yeah, we have a couple of interesting positive outcomes. I mean, you know, we're… with product, everyone kind of has to touch product, right? You can't develop - maybe you can, but I haven't figured out a way to develop products virtually yet. So we all, you know, we all have to, we all have to touch swatches and touch samples and fit things on, on bodies. But there are other things that we don't have to all be together for. And so finding that balance between the collaborative time and the individual time, the time to actually find the quiet and to have those… you know, whether it's brainstorming moments or just creative bursts of, you know, reading and thinking and, you know, we're building time into our, our calendar for the in-office days and out of office days, when you need to, you know, you need to be here because we have fittings.


And because we're, you know, or because we're meeting as a group to have an important product meeting that requires touching product, and then days when you can just put your head down and work wherever you want. And, you know, sit on your, sit on your deck under a, under a butterfly bush and be inspired, or whatever it is that, you know, that drives your creativity.


So I think that's an outcome that none of us could have predicted prior to the pandemic that you know, that we'd be able to, you know, to work, somewhere, you know, in the outdoors on a Friday.


Lisa: Yeah. I love that. I think one thing I'm super interested in just hearing your perspective on - it’s so different than my lived experience, because as an agency owner, the agency experience is we work on lots of different brands at once and so creative direction, like a big thing that we bring to it is this vision and experience all over the outdoor industry. And I'm a little envious that you get to creative direct for one brand and nurture it and grow it. And that seems like such a calm, luxurious place to be in, but maybe the grass is always greener, but what, yeah. What is that like, to create a direct in-house for a brand?


Kat: Ah, it becomes your baby, honestly, you kind of… you… so I've, I've never worked for an agency, so the grass may be greener. And so I can't, I can't imagine… I've worked with a lot of agencies and worked with you guys on many projects, but I, you know, I think that one of the things that comes with being in-house is that you get to see that baby be born. So, you know, you, you set an initial creative direction, whether that's, you know, whether that's your seasonal direction, as we do every six months or the, you know, if we're doing a big brand launch, it is, you know, it's, we just at OR, halfway through the pandemic, went through an enormous rebranding exercise of redoing all of our logos and hang tags and, you know, basically flipping our brand identity, both in terms of visual language, voice of the brand, photography, all of the, you know, all of both product and marketing shifted in unison towards a more modern OR, and that happened literally as the pandemic started. But you know, but we get to see it through, right? We start with that, that direction. And then we get to actually see the prototypes and we get to see the, you know… I, on a daily basis, I'm in fittings. You know, when, when the world opens back up again, I'll be on a plane to Asia and meeting with factories, you know, meeting with mills and looking at fabrics.


So there's the creative direction portion of it, which is the upfront. And then there's the portion of the season of actually executing that direction and bringing it to market and seeing it born and seeing it executed. And that's the piece that, that I think is really valuable to, you know, to make sure that all the T's are crossed and all the I's are dotted. And that the… that the vision that's set upfront really comes to life. We call them concept to consumer meetings and we have them every couple of months to just kind of shepherd that baby through its, you know, its infancy and into its young adulthood, as we, as we bring products to market.


And then, you know, in two weeks I'll be standing in front of a, in front of a large crowd of our sales reps and key accounts to present those babies at, at sales meeting. And you know, and really pitching them to, to our sales force so that they can take the, the product and bring it to accounts and to consumers.


So, it's just, it's a, it's a different experience because we're involved in really the concept through commercialization. And I, you know, in my role, I touch every single - to a certain extent - every single part of that process, which is, which is pretty to me, pretty exciting. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Lisa: Yeah. Do you think that there's a lot of overlap - you mentioned you have two kids that you raised in Maine during, during your time in Maine, do you think there's a lot of overlap in being a creative director that kind of ties into motherhood?


Kat: You know, I think I… I think I would be a very different leader if I wasn't a mother.


And I think it's… and I say that in a very positive way that I, I have learned, and continue to learn on a daily basis. a lot from my kids. I think it, you know, as you… especially when you work for a brand that you love, and I really do, you know, I can say with 100% certainty that I've worked for many brands for whom I've given as much as I give to my family. Right? You know, you just, you commit and you bring so much of your personality and your… your passion into the work that you do. You, you also, you know, you bring in the learnings back to your personal life. And so I think it's a, I think it's a two-way street. I, you know, in what I learn on a daily basis from my kids is this, this idea of at some point letting them go and letting them, you know, letting them flourish on their own. So guiding gently and then, and then letting go and allowing to fall. And that's a, that's a lesson in leadership that takes a lot of time to learn. It's a, it's a hard one, you know, especially with product or with, you know, or with leading creatives for your, you know, you, you really want everything to be perfect. You know, as a creative, we, we build these, these stories or these products that we want to be their best selves. But we also, you know, we have to, we have to let others then take them and execute them. So, yeah.


And I, I also, you know, there's a, there's a huge connection between my personal passions and my professional passions. Obviously I am a… I'm very passionate about the outdoors. I, I spend every, every breathing moment when I'm not in an office staring at the Seattle skyline trying to, you know, to get into the woods or, you know, or go skiing or, you know, just, just really maximize those days where I can spend time in the outdoors. And you don't end up working in the outdoor industry if you don't love nature and the outdoors. Right? So it's where I escape to on the weekends. It's, you know, it's, it's where I bring my kids to. And I, I hope that I have brought that passion of the outdoors to my family. And I also, um, you know, I also hope that I continue to bring it to my work every day and, and inspire the people around me to, to continue to be passionate about the outdoors, because that's really, you know, we could be doing a lot of other things than being in the outdoor industry, but we're here because we love it. So again, bringing that love and, and leading with, with, with passion, I think is, uh, I think is something that's important.


Lisa: Yeah. Oh, man. I can talk to you all day, I think. Yeah. I just love your take on leadership and I don't often get to speak to women who are senior creative directors. And so I think, yeah, I'm just really, really grateful for your perspective that you're bringing. And the kind of the last topic I wanted to bring up was from your pre-interview questionnaire, you called out how important inclusivity is to you in your role. And I'd like to give you the opportunity to share your perspective on that.


Kat: Oh, thank you. Well, we, you know, here… so I think that, you know, as you think about my, my journey and the places that I've been and the roles that I've had, including people in the outdoors has been at the, at the core of what I do. Right? That's the baseline of kind of the passion that drives me. And, you know, if you think about doing what you love as, as, as the thing that drives you, you know, for me, that's, that's design, that's outdoors, that's women supporting women, and it's allowing more people into the outdoors.


You know, one of the… for me, the thing that's, you know, that's been most surprising and delightful, I guess, in what I'm seeing in, you know, in what's happening with our industry has been the shift that we're seeing with the outdoor boom, with inclusivity in the outdoors. That's been a welcome surprise.


When I started in this industry, you know, my first OR… I think there were maybe a dozen women in the halls of Outdoor Retailer, and a bunch of plaid shirt-clad guys, you know, in zip off pants and, you know, and it was not a very, it was not a very women-centric or women-welcoming industry. When I started in the bike industry, I felt the same way. I think that's very much changing, you know, and I think that that change has been, has been quite welcome. And I'm excited to see it.


One of the things that we've been doing here at OR is, is really making sure that everybody gets to experience the outdoors and the way that, you know, in the way that some of us who are fortunate enough to, you know, to have grown up with the outdoors, get to experience it.


So, we, at the beginning - well, maybe not quite at the beginning of the pandemic, it was, it was fall of 2020 - we were, we spend a lot of time talking to customers, customer, you know, or really consumer-centric research is at the core of what we do. It's at the core of that why. So we, we start with, you know, we read a lot of blogs and we talk to user groups and we follow things like Facebook groups that talk about the outdoors. And we were following the PNWow group. So Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women group. And there was a lot of chatter about women not being able to find products for their outdoor adventures. And these were women who were saying like, how do I find a size 16 hiking pant? You know, what's the best, like, you know, I'm going out there and doing my guide certification and I need a woven pant. Can you guys recommend something? And then all of these women were jumping in and like, you know, talking about how there was a gap in the market, how there's nothing for women who are not traditionally sized or traditionally shaped bodies. And, you know, and Liz Wilson, who I mentioned earlier, who's our head of product, just jumped on that. And basically said, you know what? Like, we need to help these women. Let's, let's get some women in here and let's talk about what they're actually looking for and what they actually need.


And, you know, and, and that's… that was the impetus for us about 12 months later, launching extended and plus sizing, and extending all of our size ranges in some of our most technical kits into sizes up to three X and now soon to be four X. Was talking to these women, these amazing bad-ass women who are guides and climbers and skiers, and they were telling us stories about doing their guide certification in Fabletics leggings. And because that was the only thing that fit them. Or, you know, or going skiing in a pair of leggings because there was not a men's bib that they could fit into.


And for, you know, all of us who are outdoor users, those things sound crazy. Right? You know, you're like, that's not what you do, but that is their only option to access the outdoors or was their only option to access the outdoors. There are certainly brands that do, you know, that do extended sizing and outdoor products. So Columbia has to get a huge shout out for doing this for a number of years. At L.L.Bean we really practiced inclusivity and, and the idea that the outdoors should be open to all, you know, and that's whether you're, you know, a four year old or, you know, a size 22. But technical, smaller technical brands like, like us at Outdoor Research really weren't playing in that space and you know, and were not providing those highly technical products.


So after talking to these women, we… and we had a number of panels and then a number of fittings and bootcamps and meetings. And we came up with a list of products that we were going to extend into, first extended sizing and then plus sizing. And those are not, you know, they're not just basic products. Other brands would take the approach of, “oh, you know, let's take a t-shirt and let's make that in 4X,” what those women told us was no, we can get a t-shirt and a pair of leggings from the GAP or from Fabletics or from, you know, from Athleta, we need highly technical gear. So we have a ski kit that is, that goes up to 4X. We have, we have shells and mid layers that, that go, that go together that are, you know, that are kits that she can be outfitted head to toe. We launched accessories, because no one ever thought of, or at least not that I know of gloves that will- or neck gaiters that will fit a plus size body. Bodies grow, you know, in every part of it, not just, not just the midsection. And so, so having gloves that fit a plus size woman is just as important as having pants that fit her. And so, you know, so that was just 12, 18 months ago. And since then, we've just, we've, we've had an amazing experience working with these ambassadors and launching this product. You know, and I think that the… the sky's the limit on what inclusivity means in our, in our industry. So whether that's, you know, whether that's gender, age, race, sexual orientation, size. I mean, all… ability, that's really something that I'm looking to continue to expand on in, you know, in the seasons to come here and make sure that… make sure that we are building products for everybody. And that, you know, that we don't leave anybody behind because… because the outdoors should be for all. We are… we are lucky to have grown up with it. Not everybody has. But it's, it's something that, you know, it's, it's an asset that all of us should be able to access without obstacles, especially obstacles around the clothing that we wear. I mean, that's just the simplest thing for us to solve and, you know, and, and I can help solve that. As, you know, as can other brands, so.


Lisa: Oh, wow. Well, Kat, thank you so much for your time and your thoughts. I feel like I learned a lot, so thank you so much.


[music]


Iris: Thank you so much for tuning in to Outside by Design. This show is produced by WHEELIE - you can find us at our website, wheeliecreative.com.


You can also visit wheeliecreative.com/podcast to find more episodes, transcripts, show notes, and our affiliate partners. We are on Instagram at @wheeliecreative. Please subscribe, leave a five star review on your podcast app, and share this podcast with a friend who you think might enjoy listening.


With that, I'm Iris. Thanks for being here!


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