Episode 144: Seirus Director of Marketing Operations Danica Carey on Clear Storytelling
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Grab your shovel, this week we're digging DEEP!
Danica Carey, Director of Marketing Operations at Seirus Innovation, joins us on the podcast this week to cover some great topics including Black joy, instilling a collaboration mindset, barriers to diverse creators, and being your own representation. This is an episode you don't want to miss!
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Danica: If you don't take in that human factor, that human dynamic and like how people's brains and mentality individually applies to a situation and what their unique creativity or environment or background is like, then you kind of lose a lot of any project by creating too much uniformity in like assembly-style, robotic business.
Iris: Hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Outside By Design! My name is Iris Matulevich, I host the podcast 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 had a conversation with Danica Carey, Director of Marketing Operations at Seirus Innovation. Danica goes deep on this one, discussing her dad’s launch of the company in the 70s, establishing an entrepreneurial mindset within the organization, misconceptions around their success as a Black-owned brand, and being your own representation. There are so many great topics covered in this interview, so I’ll let you get right into listening.
Lisa: Danica. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I'm excited to talk to you.
Danica: Me too. Thanks for having me.
Lisa: The first question we ask everyone is to describe where you are and what you're looking at.
Danica: Ooh. Okay. Well for sound reasons now… I am work-from-home. So I am in my bedroom with pillows and blankets around me, so quite comfortable. And I'm just looking at a painting that I did a while back, actually.
Lisa: Where are you based out of in the country?
Danica: I am based out of San Diego, homeland of the Kumeyaay.
Lisa: Oh, what do you do for fun in San Diego?
Danica: A whole number of things. I spent the majority of my life playing traditional sports, you know, soccer, running track, playing volleyball. So there's still a lot of soccer in my life. But there's some good little mini hikes around here. Cows mountain, Torrey Pines, just little escapes to - believe it or not, there actually are quiet parts of beach. Or if you go to the beach at night, you get a little bit more of the actual, like outdoor-space vibe rather than the crazy crowded beach vibe. Yeah. So just, you know, little park escapes or hikes.
Lisa: Ah, cool. I love San Diego.
Danica: Mhmm. Yeah, it's really nice.
Lisa: So I'm curious a little bit about, kind of, what's your story and how did it get you into a director-level role at Seirus?
Danica: Well, my story, as far as Seirus goes, is pretty privileged. [laughs] My parents started the company the year before I was born, and I have an older sister. And so right before they had both of us, my dad invented what's called the Cat Track. It's the sole that goes on your ski boot to prevent wear. And at the time when he invented it in ‘78, brought it to market in' 79, it was right at the perfect opportunity for when the industry was trying to solve the problem. And it just standardized all the boot/binding interfaces so that you have this like DIN system - that’s pretty familiar and popularized today - to protect from lower leg injuries that were happening a lot before this. So. And when your ski boot is too worn down, you lose the integrity of that, that standardized system of release.
So he invented that, brought it to market, and luckily a lot of the boot manufacturers at the time completely got on board with it and said, you know what, throw our logos on there. Like, we need this in the market. And so that helped him take off. And you know, he and my mom were both working at restaurants at the time. And he is entrepreneurial in nature. He graduated with a science degree, a degree in biology. And so his mind always kind of works in that problem-solving style, ask more questions, try to find more answers, scientific mindset. And he's just very, very interested in humans and human evolution and what we're all trying to do in the world.
So he launched a company. He was also a Black man in the late seventies and recognized he did not like anything about traditional business and didn't want to start a traditional business. [laughs] And so really built the company around a collaboration mindset that is still very, very strongly built into our ethos of how we work today.
And so, you know, that started literally out of our garage. And so from a young age, I got to watch them build the business out of our house for, I think it was at least the first 10 years and then, you know, seeing how big of a deal it was when they finally moved into an office space. And, you know, the first person they hired was working out of the garage, having to deal with two toddlers running around, trying to figure out like why he was in our garage and can he make us a fort with these boxes.
And now he's still at the company today, he's our VP of operations. And so seeing that start from three people doing what they can to make it work, to now being a team of 60 and an 80, when we have heavy shipping in the winter season was something that I was just, I think always in awe of growing up and learning how that operated.
And so after college - I would do odd jobs with them when I was younger, even my sister and I, every summer would come assemble what was called the Fanny Flask. This is like, early nineties. We were one of the first to bring fanny packs to the winter market. So, you're welcome. [laughs] And we're talking like DayGlo, right? DayGlo fanny packs, leopard, whatever. And so they came up with something called the fanny flask, which was, you know, just a liquid baggy with a spout on it. And we would assemble those in the warehouse. So that was one of the first jobs I remember having, working for my parents. And, you know, as soon as we learned the alphabet, they got us to like file things and just all sorts of odd jobs around just helping out, you know?
And then after college, when I came back with a marketing degree, I started helping on the marketing/advertising side of things. And after a few years getting to live the snow bum life in Colorado, I moved back home and, and helped them build out their marketing department. And so now I run that today.
Lisa: That's an amazing story.
Danica: Thank you. [laughs]
Lisa: Like, how do you think that that shaped your perception of the world? Like, yeah, it'd be really interesting growing up around all that.
Danica: Yeah, it was very interesting. I think in a lot of ways it created this like safe bubble around outdoor recreation and getting into the ski industry and you know, especially in the early eighties when it was not as expensive as it is today to take your whole family skiing and then having the niche in of getting to see the ski industry as it was being built, having no idea that that's what I was seeing.
And so, you know, now that I'm at an age where I can conceptualize that a little bit more and seeing just how many pieces and parts I was able to see in the foundational construction stages, having that little window into that building process, very, very, very much shapes how I approach things today.
Also being very bubbled up in the fact that there… I know… I'm able to have a network of people that are so ingrained in the industry, that I was also very protected from a lot of the issues that many other people that look like me and look like my dad have while still sometimes getting those, like the arrows would get through. Right? And you're like, recognizing that they're there and not having any ignorance around the fact that that's a big part of all of our lives everywhere. But getting to be bubbled up in the ski industry in a way that we were able to thrive and make it through. And then now having that experience and, and seeing how many people, unfortunately, didn't recognize how big of a deal that was, or, or where they were, weren't a part of that and how they did or didn't respond to that and how that helps create the path for more in the future. And that not recognizing the things that help or hurt. That being- our ability to be successful and that what we did doesn't mean that it's easy to do or that anyone could do it. It means that there's a specific scenario that we are trying to help people recreate and then break down the things that were there along the path that we never thought to tell people were part of the problem, because we were just trying to survive and do our best.
So, I think that's mostly where my worldview is focused right now is, you know, I've heard us be used as an example in many different ways, in many different places. And I think that's the one that kind of rubs me the wrong way the most is when I hear us used as an example as though it shouldn't be difficult or there isn't anything difficult. I’m like, it’s difficult. [laughs] There was, I witnessed a lot of things and you know, understood a lot of ways that my dad would never compromise his integrity around to get where he was, and yet still had the fortitude and the charisma and the ability to build what he built and what he and my mom both built. And the dynamics that that took. And then when I hear people use us as an example as like, ‘see, anyone could make it!’ I'm like, no, no, no. There's a lot of stuff that we need to make sure isn't repeated. Just because we somehow had the fortitude and the ability and the resources to get through, that's not the standard, that's, there's a lot of new standards that need to be set.
Lisa: When people use you as an example of like a Black-owned business?
Danica: Yeah. As, as like a Black success story, I think.
Danica: As though that is par for the course or that anyone else that doesn't have success is because they didn't work hard enough. Like, I've, I've heard that example you used.
Lisa: Mmm. How do you even respond to that?
Danica: You know, I haven't really yet, I think it's, it's just starting to come into the conversation because in my purview and with the people that we work closely with and that we support and that we've had wonderful relationships built with over the year, that's sort of a… that's a side conversation that goes on around us, not as much to us. And I think that the support systems and the foundational relationships that have been built around just what building things looks like and what, and what true equity and inclusion and relationships looks like. And how you create opportunities where maybe someone doesn't see one. And how you strategize based on the opportunities that are there and help people find a way to do things that maybe they didn't believe they were capable of, or maybe they didn't feel they had the resource access to, that's really where our conversations have been focused.
And so, you know, when you asked, like how does that affect my worldview? That's what's coming into my arena now because I feel like there is a really strong network and momentum around recognition of, like, why it is so important to make sure that we have more people thriving in an industry where there has not been opportunity to thrive for so long or little opportunity to thrive for so long.
And so that is the… that's the one example that I think has been kind of jumping into my view more often than it has in the past. So long story short, I don't have an answer for that yet, because you know, there's no denying that we were successful in a time where it was not usual for a Black-owned business to be successful. And I think that trying to be used as an example for success to help create more opportunities is so important. And so that piece is a hinder to that. ‘Cause it, it kind of washes away a lot of that work, right?
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. So, because you're the director of marketing, kind of, how do you bring that into the visuals or, or marketing - kind of, like, obviously you're bringing your lens of the world, which is amazing and important. But do you have a strategy there or does it come from feeling or kind of like, what's your process there?
Danica: It very much comes from feeling, you know, I, the fact that we are so collaboration-based, we try to have a lot of conversations with as many people as we can around it, because I think it was something on the level that we're talking about right now, it's not something that you, that you can do alone, or you should want to do alone. [laughs] So no matter, no matter what your perspective or how many people you feel like you can represent for, there's way more that you haven't talked to. That you can't, you can't represent for someone that you don't really know their story well enough.
And so I think our main goal - and what I'm so glad to see marketing starting to take a shift towards - is just getting better at telling your story more often and more clearly. Because… it kinda reminds me back to like middle school days. Right? If you, if you're not the one telling your story, someone else is. And you can't go around and combat everyone's version of their perception of you, but if you just continually stay true to what you're about, be repetitive about the things that are important to you, be consistent and trustworthy around how you show up in the world and how you want to show up in the world, and even when you make mistakes, you know, be accountable for them and just keep moving forward.
So I think that I've, I've really enjoyed seeing that there's a new level of authenticity that people have been looking for in communications. And I think there's so many places and spaces and organizations that have gotten really, really good at this like flashy, curated messaging. And that is starting to ring very, very inauthentic to people. Which is helpful because I think that to have the budget to do the kind of scale of washing your message out there, there's not as many companies that could represent for a lot of the movements that we're seeing make progress now today to make a more comfortable life for many more of us. I don't think you can do that with flashy marketing. I just don't think that's possible. I think it happens when you're having conversations with your community, with your friends, with your family, and you're actually moving things that have more meaning to people. And I, and so I think people are more interested in seeing what companies are about, getting clarity on the message, getting clarity on why they do what they do.
Which, you know, we've heard be a part of marketing speak for, for a while. Like, what's your, why? What's your purpose? But I'm seeing people… I'm seeing that impact people's, decision-making a lot more, which is great, rather than having a company's marketing say, ‘I know who you are and what you want.’ They're like, ‘well, no, you don't.’ That's not possible because you can't have 334 million conversations in a year. And so I think I've really enjoyed that marketing has moved more into this space of, tell your story, tell other people's stories, let us know what you're about rather than trying to guess what I'm about and then telling you what I need from you.
Lisa: Mmm. Do you have an- I mean, I love that. Do you have an example of like an initiative or project or product launch that you've worked on at Seirus to kind of promote that?
Danica: Sure. I mean, I think… oftentimes we would get feedback or questions asked around, okay, who's your, who's your market for this? What are their demographics? I would say, well, everyone. [laughs] And I, I know the whole marketing theory of like, if you're trying to appeal to everyone, you're appealing to no one. Right? But I think the, the challenge that happens when you try to get too specific is you alienate people that could actually benefit from what you're bringing.
And so when we, when we focus on communicating what our product is - which we've been criticized for before, because we're very technology-based product. And so there's a lot going in. And rather than trying to write a book for someone to know when, where, how they could use what we're offering, we always try to make as much clarity as we can around why. Why we made what we made.
So for example, our, our base layer. And since we have sizes from junior up to 2X adult, it really is… it doesn't fit into demographics the way that marketing used to like to talk about it. And still, I think in a lot of ways, talks about, you know, age, gender, race, income level. And I think when people try to get us to define our customer with those demographics, that has never worked for us. So we try to focus around, well, what activities does it do? And I, you know, I don't think we're unique in the outdoor industry for this. I think the outdoor industry does a really good job of helping people see like, well, what's the use case? Like when or where would I need to use this?
And I think what the industry is getting a little better at doing now - that everyone needed a bigger reboot on this - is not just what is the activity around, but diversifying the look of how many people are participating in that activity. And I think that's been one of the struggles and one of the falsities that marketing in general over the years has created the idea that told all of us, no matter what our brand profile was, or no matter what our internal makeup was, the lie that was sold to us with was that who our customer was. And I think the more that we can break down trying to think about our end customer in that old school demographic style - age, race, income level - the more that we'll be able to just very much organically change how we visually show up in the industry. Because that's all marketing. Right? How does your, how does your organization show up in the industry? And we've already seen that change to a sweeping degree in the last two, three years. There is way more diversity in so many of the imagery that you see coming from our industry now. And when it isn't diverse, it almost has that edge of like, whoa, is that on purpose? What are you doing?
Danica: Yeah. And so I think being a part of that is a big deal. And I think even when companies maybe don't hit that directly on the nose, I think it's, I think it's still good to move in that direction. Now I think the layer underneath that is, ‘okay. Is there more than that though?’ Like, that's great. Like, that's great that you finally recognize that there's a whole diverse group of models to choose from or athletes to choose from. And we've kind of broken down that level. But then where were you as far as like the people that are making decisions? And I think that that's being asked for so much. And so I think there's a, a different layer of depth that people are looking into.
And so, you know, to bring it back around to baselayer, baselayer is a newer product for us. We are normally focused on head, hands, and feet. But we had a technology and a material that lent itself to full body coverage. So we're like, yeah, let's go for it. Let's, let's get into this aspect of the market. And so being really intentional when we selected models for that, where normally, you know, there's a very, they're very small pieces of real estate for, you know, a hat shoot or a glove shoot. And imagery that features those type of products. And now we had an opportunity to do full body. And so we were able to bring a lot more color into our site and have a little bit more dynamic and interesting shots. And so getting to be a larger part of that visual presence, and then letting that also help bring attention to the fact - to people recognize that like, yeah, we are a Black-owned company and we have been operating in this industry for over 40 years.
Being a part of that diversity landscape and helping bring in attention to all the other groups that have been doing that for as long as we have, or in the last 10, 15 years, or even in the last two to three years. And trying to use our marketing to continue to represent and be a part of that conversation and help to kind of move that needle forward.
Lisa: Absolutely. I think it's also critical who's behind the lens.
Danica: Exactly. Yeah.
Lisa: And it's, it can be hard to find people in different locations that are capable of shooting different types of sports or scenarios, or, you know, I think there's, I think there's a huge, huge hole in the industry there.
Danica: Oh massive, but I think what's cool about how quickly and far reaching communication is now... ‘Cause I, I remember, I've heard that said for decades that there just, there aren't that many people out there doing it, or, you know, that's been said for different positions in the industry or, you know, we see that criticism come across as females too. Like, there's a huge gap in, in reps and sales managers and on the, on the whole sales side of the industry, male to female, right. And we've heard all of the colloquial reasons why over the years, and I think in the last two to three to four years even, the MythBuster effect of that has been so great.
I mean, all you have to do is hear someone say that into a loud enough audience. And like the, the recurring evidence coming back is just almost overwhelming. You know, like there's no way someone could walk out now and say, well, there just aren't that many athletes of color. You’re like, yeah right! Check a hashtag. Are you kidding me?
And then the, the whole network of photographers and videographers it's, it's that sort of, real-world erasure that's happened over the years where people just actually couldn't see us, see each other, the amount of noise that was between all of us that could help represent for the counter to that argument that just didn't know each other as much.
I think that landscape has changed a lot in the last two to three years. People getting connected with each other to help facilitate and be a credibility source. ‘Cause I think that's one of the things that is the underlying combat that we have to deal with so often is that there's just a constant challenge to credibility. And so the more work that we're able to do with each other over the years, and like, be that credibility source and, you know, the whole team that went to Everest, like everyone in that - everyone in that arena, every role was filled by someone. And there was more behind that too, that, that there's opportunity for, for also. So I, I agree.
I think it's, you know, who's in front of the lens. Great. Like, I think we've seen that change. Who's behind the lens is also very important. Who's making the decisions to create that shoot? What does that shoot look like? How is it being spread? Where is it being spread? And like kind of the reverb out to every line of the equation and not in a way that's like squeezing out people that are already there, which I know is also a fear, but really just enriching it, enhancing it and bringing more voices to the table to make something cooler.
I don't think we've even gotten close to being at a place where everything fun that we could do outside is discovered. So why don't you want more people to be involved in what that looks like?
Lisa: [laughs] Yeah. One thing I started doing over the last few years, because I own a creative agency, is I stopped hiring full-time positions in-house and I started using contractors all over the country from all different backgrounds and skill levels and camera equipment. And it has had its own unique challenges, but I think the work that has come out of it is so much more beautiful and like so much deeper.
Danica: Yeah. I think that's so cool. I think that's so amazing because… I mean, for a billion reasons, but that was something that my eyes were opened to recently too. ‘Cause I feel like a lot of the mentality around, you know, different industries or different roles is like this narrow lens, fine tuning to a point of like, what's the best equipment that makes you the best person at your job. Like that's, there's validity to that. Of course. There's… some cameras are going to be better than other cameras for different things. But I think what I've seen in the last couple years of the talent that uses the equipment is way less important than what the equipment is. And why would we create those level of financial barriers for each other, where if someone is skilled at some aspect of something, but does not have the income level yet to buy whatever is considered the ‘top level’ devices at this point, if they can do the same or better, and you know, the technology that we're able to have access to now - even with our phones and, you know, different programs that make it so much more accessible to create - I think that's amazing that you're doing that, that. 'cause yeah. Full time, full time, it feels to be the number one, like wobble factor right now, like is full full-time, really the best thing for all of us?
Lisa: Yeah. Right? Exactly. And then like really honoring every project and honoring the product and where it's going to be used or how, how it could be used. You know, and when, when we have really versatile, talented, creative people in house full time, like in the past, we've made beautiful work. But I just think that by eliminating like one person that works on multiple projects and having multiple people on multiple projects, it's a logistical nightmare for someone like me with an art degree where I'm like, wait, what, what budget? How? Where? So thank goodness I have project managers that help, but it's, it's been, I think… I don't know, just like a super different business model, but one that I'd liked better. And I've learned a lot too.
Lisa: About my blind spots in the industry, too.
Danica: Oh, totally. Well, because it gives you access to so many more people for one, right? And then the autonomy that they must get to feel in having that relationship that's a little bit more, like, project-based that creates this like client dynamic that I think makes the conversation richer around what you're trying to build together. We try to do that a lot internally so that everyone within our organization has somewhat of an entrepreneurial mindset around what they're doing, what they're bringing to the table, so that you, you know, you have your, your role or whatever your title is or whatever you're responsible for. But that, you know, you're not just a cog in a wheel. You're not gonna, you're not someone that, “Oh, great. Come here, stand at this assembly line. Like here's you pick it up here and then you pass it off there.” Like, that's not really how we operate. We try to make it much more unique to the individual showing up. And I think it's interesting. And I think you're, you know, I think you're probably at the leading edge of this moving away from having more full-time contracts and working more with independent or consultants or project-based is that it's… I've noticed it's really, it can be really challenging for people that are used to the system as it's set up in society that like the bigger the organization or the better the compensation package, it's like really, really… hard walls of what they're being asked of and here's your task list. And if you're gonna accomplish this in 40 hours to 50 hours a week, like thumbs up, you get your paycheck.
And I think what I really enjoy about the dynamic that we try to create is that here's the role that we're trying to do. Here's why we're trying to do it. But what do you think? What would you do if this was you? What, what would be your ideal creation? And do you even like the systems that we're using? Or like the process, like, what do you think of this process? And it can be a little annoying sometimes because our processes and procedures can get rewritten a little bit more often than I think would be the standard for most companies.
But if you don't take in that human factor, that human dynamic and like how people's brains and mentality individually applies to a situation and what their unique creativity or environment or background is like, then you kind of lose a lot of any project by creating too much uniformity in like assembly-style, robotic business.
Lisa: Hmm. I like how your brain works.
Danica: [laughs] Thank you. You are in the minority, but thank you.
Lisa: Um, can I ask you kind of a personal question?
Danica: So Evan Green is a, he's a photographer who was on that Everest trip that you referenced. And he, we work with him a lot. He's the first person years ago, a few years ago, who taught me about the concept of Black joy and how he wanted, he wanted to art direct his portion of the project and centering it - he was basically expressing like, you know, like four years ago, the outdoor industry was trying and not getting it right. And Evan was basically like, it's like people haven't gone outside before. And it's like a story of triumph.
Danica: [laughs] Right, right, right.
Lisa: And he's like, I'm so sick of, like, stories of triumph. I just want joy. I want to show how much fun we have. And we were like, Evan, awesome. Rock it. Like just, you tell you, just make whatever you want to make. And so I'm curious. Like… I haven't ever really asked about Black joy through the lens of entrepreneurship and growing up where like your dad started this company and like entrepreneurship is hard and there is struggle and there's triumph and there's like so many failures. But do you tell that story of entrepreneurship or like, I guess what's your relationship to like Black joy and entrepreneurship?
Danica: I mean, I feel like my dad specifically, like, it's just, I don't know, it's just in your body, in that way. And like a great example of that is I'm not sure if you've seen the “we frolicin’” like, that trend that's going around?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah yeah.
Danica: I love that because something that just breaks up the scar tissue of so much stereotyping around what being Black is, means, or looks like…. and I mixed my, my mom's white, my dad's Black, so my appearance is very light-skinned and oh, and my hair… it's very confusing for people. So people can't always tell that I'm Black, [laughs] but I think my, my dad, and especially when we get in groups with our family or friends, or like even there's a Juneteenth golf tournament that we're doing for the second time coming up.
And there's something that happens when people feel safe that you don't have to have that edge of caution that I think pervades our personalities a lot when we're in spaces that we aren't as comfortable with. And when I say ‘we’ I'm mostly talking about Black, but you know, I have other friends, friends of different races that, that have expressed the same experience or even women, where I think that Black joy that just like grows and reverbs off each other, the more that Black people are in community together is something that does feel so magical.
And I think there's a little bit of like a sad, traumatic aspect to it because it's, it's like… those spaces aren't as common. And so when you do get to experience it, it's like a little kid that is allowed to like go into a balloon factory by themselves or something, you know, it's just this like ecstatic level, like, ‘oh my gosh, like I can, I can have fun right now! I am fun right now!” Like there's just, it's it's like seeing freedom and celebration and just pure, authentic soul-level joy come out. So I think that there's a power of that, within that, that if you're able to tap into that in your creativity at all, I think it just comes out when people that are used to dealing with so much oppression, feel safe and free and it's, and it's the joy that bubbles up is… it's contagious. It's magical. It's like. I, I dunno. I think that's how I'd explain Black joy. If I had to like… if you can't tell I'm a little bit of an analytical human. So that's like, that's like if I had to put it into words, but the, the feeling of it and the, and the charisma that exudes from that, I don't, I don't know if you can capture it in a way for a brand. Because I think it only works because it is what it is. It's not for any purpose. And so I, I really, I really hope that like, as we start to lift more people up that, and this is something that I had talked to Philip Henderson about as they were, you know, building towards the Everest expedition. And I really hope this, this rings true as they come out of it, is that it should really be about each of them individually, like what they accomplished and what they want to get out of it. I know that there are a lot of brands and organizations that were instrumental in making sure that they can have the finances and the resources to be a part of the building towards what they accomplish, but what they accomplished is them.
And I think we need so much more of that in the world that will help us all thrive to a different level. And like, we’re capitalistic. Like, that's fine. Like people are gonna sell stuff cause we all need stuff. ‘Cause you know, we've, we've got ourselves in a position where we need a lot of creature comforts, you know, we're not, we're not going to go back to like living under trees. But I just think that in that purest essence of being able to tell that story and have Black joy be a part of the conversation is going to help move the needle so much farther on a lot of the stereotyping that is part of that system of oppression, creates that… I don't know if we do it well as a brand. I think that we've got individuals in our organization and outside of our organization, that we have that relationship with that we are able to create those spaces of safety and joy. You know, I hope it shows up in our content sometimes because I think it is natural and organic for us, but I just think there's nothing better than that for the world, because it just, it changes the dynamics of our experience of each other in such a way that I don't think it's even a fair to even put it into as many words as I did. I just think it's, it's so rich. It's so rich and wonderful.
Lisa: Yeah. Oh man. Cool. Well, thanks for sharing that. I think your perspective, having grown up in entrepreneurship and in, in the outdoor industry and having the ability to like, watch your family basically decide like, this is what we're going to do. This is why. This is the problem that we're going to solve. And then grow it. I think it's like such a cool perspective. I think that's so unique.
Danica: Mhmm. And I think it's cool to see when that gets like valued and reflected, you know, like if you want to talk about it in an entrepreneurial way, I think that that does become part- like people want to be around people that are having a good time. Right? And I think that that's part of the. The insidiousness that like the bubble of racism, how it affects people without people recognizing it, you know, there's this whole like misunderstanding or ignorance around, like what and how oppression and racism actually affects people in their daily lives.
‘Cause you can't really write it on paper. Like, I went to the store and this person said this, and that makes complete sense of why it's racist. You know, it's, it's just, it's more of the essence that surrounds so many people and can really affect experiences in places if it's not broken up in a way that says ‘that's not going to thrive here.’ And I think that there's some people that have that level of charisma that even with that in existence, even if that isn't a space or not, they are so much more interesting and engaging and fun that they can not only disperse the energy of that in a room, but they can help you see and experience why it's so much better without that. [laughs]
And I think that my dad's just one of those people, like, he's just one of those people that is naturally charismatic. People want to be around him. And yeah, they'll say a lot of dumb stuff to him or around him that like is like, whoa, okay. You need a little bit of an education. But he's, he's very good - in my experience, I feel like I've been raised and mentored by someone that has the ability to give people enough grace when they deserve it and a stern eye and a stern talking to when they deserve it [laughs] and still maintain their own sense of internal human dignity, and human dignity for other people, that doesn't have to cross over into any like boundary blurring line. You know, it's not his job to help or fix people, but he has every right to defend his existence in any space. And he does that really, really well. And I think, you know, that's something that he's always spoken about getting very strongly from his parents.
And it's a challenging dynamic that I think a lot of us try to walk through this world and make change in a way that does more than it did for the generation before us, without degrading and into sort of that like assimilation line where you actually degrade the work that you've been doing and moving forward.
Lisa: Hmm. Wow. Well, I mean, thank you for sharing your wisdom on this and I want to be respectful of your time. Is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to share with our audience.
Danica: Well, [laughs] I'm curious, is this a conversation you wanted to have, or did I just make this all about that?
Lisa: Oh, I mean, I think… I did not know we were going to go there today at all. And I'm like, okay, let's do it. I'm always, always there for it.
Danica: [laughs] Yeah. ‘Cause I like, I just came off a conversation about, you know, like the future of trade shows and what are trade shows going to do. And, yeah, I dunno. I, I think it's really interesting using the lens of marketing and using like, I mean, we're a brand in the snow sports industry, right? I think there's, there's already like a lot of assumptions made around what our priorities are or might be. And I think that the thing that really has been sparking up my mind more often is just seeing priorities and values shift and watching what's happening and trying to help be a part of positive change. And I think a big part of that is changing up our value systems a little bit where our end focus isn't always about, you know, the number of dollars that you're going to get in any one transaction, but you know, how are we actually moving forward as a community?
Lisa: Hmm. Who…? Brooklyn Bell was on this podcast years and years ago, she was still in college. And she was doing, um, she was doing a project on heroes and creating her own heroes for herself and like in the outdoor industry, you know, like, cool skiers that she could identify with. So I'm curious, like, who was your first hero? It doesn't have to be in the outdoor industry where you were like, yeah, I feel represented. And what power and impact did that happen?
Danica: Oh, man, I feel like I should be embarrassed by this answer. [laughs]
Lisa: [laughs] I can’t wait.
Danica: And like, here's what I'll say about heroes. Normally, when I get asked this question, it's like, it wouldn't be a name that you know. ‘Cause my- like, people say you shouldn't meet your heroes, but I also feel like why would you have a hero you've never met? And so most of my heroes are like, you know, girls and track that were faster than me. Like people's names you wouldn't know. But I will say, early on in still sports, like when I would get annoyed at the repetitiveness of the, the question or the impression that it was like weird for me to be out there, that, that they're just, you know, that Black people don't do this, whether that's coming from the white community or the Black community or whoever that comes from. I remember in… late eighties, I think it was late eighties, that like Coolio ended up on some show and he was snowboarding. And I was, like, “see!”
Danica: And I rode that one out for like a decade. Whenever anyone would say that I'm like, Coolio does. I would just like… [laughs] And then thankfully, like Selema started coming up more in X-Games like, I think, I think I grasped so tightly onto like popularized examples of people. And I feel like I've really let that go over the years because I've met so many people now that I've found had to do that too. That we're like, okay, like, can we just be good? Can we just be our own representation? Like, I don't need to prove to you that a million other people do this just for it to be okay for me to do this. But yeah. So my answer is Coolio. [laughs]
Lisa: That’s funny. My very good, my very good friend Shandi is Asian and she said her first hero was the yellow power ranger.
Danica: [laughs] Oh, that's amazing. Yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. It’s like, thanks. Thanks Hollywood.
Danica: Right? Yeah. But you know, you get what you get, but yeah. But Brooklyn's amazing. I was able to meet her a few years back through Brown Girls Climb and man, her art is incredible and yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Well, thanks for your openness. And sharing all your wisdom. I think this was a great episode. Where can people, where can people follow you or find you online if they want to continue the conversation? Yeah, we have our website, seirus.com. The best way to like engage with us in conversation would definitely be on our Instagram, primarily, @seirus_gear, and then, you know, we're on Facebook, Twitter, all those. You know, we, we try to be as involved as we can. If you’re in the San Diego area, look up Juneteenth golf tournament, book a foursome, come out and play some golf, have some fun, experience some real real-world Black joy.
Lisa: Yeah. Cool. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Danica. This was a good one.
Danica: Yeah. Thank you so much. It was so great to get to talk.
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.
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With that, I'm Iris. Thanks for being here!