October 19, 2021

Beautiful And Functional Gloves For The Outdoors: Drew Eakins And His Journey With Hestra Gloves [EP 298]

Show Notes

Outdoor-Biz-Logo
Rick Saez
Beautiful And Functional Gloves For The Outdoors: Drew Eakins And His Journey With Hestra Gloves [EP 298]
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If you’re going to hit the great outdoors, you may need a good pair of gloves, and we have just the thing for you. Hestra Gloves produces some of the best outdoors use gloves on the market today. In this episode, Rick Saez interviews Hestra’s Marketing Manager, Drew Eakins. They talk about Hestra’s family lineage, their design development, the quality and attention to detail, production process, and they geek out a bit on Seth Godin. Learn more about Hestra and their amazing gloves by tuning in.

Beautiful And Functional Gloves For The Outdoors: Drew Eakins And His Journey With Hestra Gloves

Welcome to episode 298 of the show with Hestra Gloves Marketing Manager, Drew Eakins. We talked about Hestra’s family lineage, the quality and attention to detail that goes into every design development, production process, and we geek out a bit on Seth Godin.

Drew, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

It’s good to catch up with you. Our paths have crossed many times. It’s finally nice to talk with you. I look forward to meeting you in person one day.

It’s a small world that we run in and the paths are quite interconnected.

I launched the show a few years ago. You’ve been in the industry and I’ve been in the industry for a long time. You’d think you know a lot of people but then when I did this, it’s like, “I don’t know anybody.” It’s a good place to be for me on the show because I could talk to everybody and anybody. This is a lifetime job because everyone has great stories. Let’s start off with how you were introduced to the outdoors. How did that come about?

Fear is what keeps us from doing the best work and keeps us from shipping our work.

I have a unique entry into the outdoors. I was raised in South Georgia. My dad was a lifelong state park superintendent. I was raised in state parks from the time I was born until I finished high school. I finished high school in a little town called Pine Mountain, Georgia. I think the population is about 1,700 people. We had about 10,000 acres of state park as our backyard. My brother and I spent a lot of time outside. My dad was passionate about the outdoors. I like to tell everyone when I was born, my dad was skiing. I want to liken my love for skiing back to that. I’ve deep roots in the outdoors, hiking, skiing, and all those things. I can point that back to day one, at the very beginning. That was my entry into the outdoors.

You guys got to play outside. He probably got you into hiking and some of those activities right out of the gate. What are your earliest memories? What’s your first memory of doing something outside?

When I was probably 4 or 5, I remember going fishing at the ponds in the park with my friends and having friends over. We had 10,000 acres to run around. We would do little group backpacking trips with our friends and their dads. I have a lot of fond memories of the Appalachians dump out right where I grew up. We were at the very foothills there. It’s funny now, living in Colorado. The term mountain is very broadly used because we call those mountains back at home. Here I could look out my window and see Mount Evans, which is over 14,000 feet. I got to start in the little mountains and then now move further West and played in the big mountains.

I got the same thing out my front door. It’s a big 14,000-foot peak. All your buddies must have wanted to come over and play with you. You guys could have some awesome ditch games. Your educational background includes studies at traditional schools like Sam Houston State, Howell University, and Georgia Southern. I’m most interested in your experience at Seth Godin’s marketing seminar in altMBA. How did you choose those?

When I got out of my Master’s program at Sam Houston State, Master’s in Sports Management, it was the worst time possible to graduate. It was during the recession. I’ll never forget during my wife’s graduation. She went to Texas Tech. The guy who gave the speech at her graduation said, “You guys picked a bad time to graduate.” I’m the type of person that I was searching and trying to find some foothold in the industry.

At that point, I wanted to be in marketing and sports, whether that was pro, college or to a lesser extent, the outdoor industry. I started thinking about how can I dig into these skills that I needed. One thing led to another. I ended up getting jobs in Colorado, getting into the outdoor industry, and learning that I still needed those skills. Seth Godin is a hero of mine. He has written tons and tons of bestsellers and has a thoughtful way of approaching marketing.

When I started digging into what it meant to market in the outdoor industry, build trust and stoke the fires of people wanting to get outside, how we could come alongside people and partner with them in ways that were meaningful, Seth’s writing is something that I continually came back to. He can cut away all of the noise that surrounds the things we do.

He can get to the heart of the issue. He’s blogged every day for years and years. He’s a high-output guy but he can cut through the noise. One of the things I wanted to do was learn more. I started researching and a colleague of mine said, “You should try the marketing seminar.” If you know anything about these seminars, they are intense. It is multiple writing prompts a week, if not per day. It’s this bootcamp of sorts you go through. You dissect everything that you do, your perspectives, how you come alongside the people that you’re trying to market to, and the things that are most compelling in those relationships.

How do you use your brand as a driver for good? How do you build trust with people who might be partners in using your products? How do you get to the core of what it means to market a product to someone? How do you solve the problems that those people are facing? How do you put yourself in their shoes? Through the marketing seminar, I got a grasp of that. There were a lot of writing prompts and a lot of things that were exploratory in terms of how you approach your users.

The altMBA is like that times 1,000. It’s six weeks intensive. I can’t remember how many projects you ship through that program but it is tons and tons of projects. You’re working silently by yourself. You’re working with teams and doing all kinds of different things. I remember one of the prompts was we had to sit down and put together 99 business ideas. The premise of that is, “Let’s not worry so much about the fear.”

He always talks about dancing with fear. The fear is what keeps us from doing the best work and keeps us from shipping our work. The whole premise of the whole program is to let’s dance with that fear. Let’s do the hard labor. Let’s press into these things because a lot of times, the hard way is the right way. We get in our own way of launching those things by saying, “What about this? What about that?”

It’s about, “Let’s try things. Let’s put things out there and see what happens because iteration is where real meaningful change happens.” That hard emotional labor is where you get better and learn more. Trial and error is not a bad thing. That altMBA I did years ago now was transformative. I would recommend that to anyone.

That’s been on my bucket list for a while. I discovered Seth maybe a few years ago and I read his blog every day. I signed up for one of his mini-courses. I forget the name of it but it was a couple of weeks’ course. I was two days into it and I couldn’t keep up. I had to bail. It’s like, “I don’t have time to do this,” but it’s assignment after assignment. The other thing I love about my small exposure to that was how collaborative it was. It was people from all over the world, walks of life, kinds of backgrounds and given different perspectives as an input on your little project. It was hugely transformative.

I think in my groups on altMBA, I had someone who’s an advisor to the president of Zappos. I had a designer who worked for Netflix and did a lot of the big movie posters you see. She put the art together for those. We had a mom who was trying to start her own coaching business, and I work at a glove company. There’s a broad spread of people. That’s one of the beautiful things about it. It’s that you have this collaboration with people who have completely different perspectives.

The collaboration is completely positive. It’s great feedback. Even the critical feedback, the way that somehow when you get into his programs, you put a different hat on. You speak, act and deliver your message differently. It’s fantastic. If any of you haven’t checked out Seth Godin, Google him. He’s all over the place. His books and blog are great.

TOBP 298 | Hestra Gloves
Hestra Gloves: Iteration is where real, meaningful change happens and that hard emotional labor is where you get better and you learn more and trial and error is not a bad thing.

 

His blog is Seths.blog. It’s very easy to find.

He’s been doing that daily for years. Enough geeking out on Seth. Congrats, Seth. We love you. Keep it up. Your work-life seems to be focused on climbing. How did you connect with Hestra Gloves?

In 2012, my wife and I moved to Colorado. We had come up on a weekend trip. We’d always wanted to live in Denver but had never made the jump. We were living in Houston, where my wife is from at the time. By way of the recession and graduating at the wrong time, she got a job at her home school district across the US. It was literally the only job either one of us got. We applied for jobs from Florida to Alaska, and that was it. There was very little available at that time and people were searching for jobs. We were among the least qualified, which is not an ideal place to be in that scenario. We took a weekend trip up to Colorado on a whim.

I’ll never forget sitting in downtown Denver, drinking a beer on the day we were leaving, and looking at her and her looking at me. We both said, “We got to do this. We got to make a move.” We ended up saying if one of us gets a job, we’re making a move. She got the job at a small charter school. She’s an educator. She’s excellent at what she does and linked up with a school here. I was looking and I got linked up with an organization called The Climbing Wall Association. They’re based in North Boulder.

At that point, that industry was about to take off, and little did I know that it was about to take off. They hired me as their marketing and events manager. Through that, I got some connections, stayed for a couple of years, grew the trade show there, doubled the size, got to experience exponential growth, and be at the center of an industry that was exploding, which was super fun.

Through those connections, I found a job with Chris Klinkie at Trango. Trango’s a heritage Colorado climbing brand. They’ve been around for many years. It also has Tinaya shoes as a distribution partner. They also do Egrips climbing hold. I got brought on as the marketing director for those three brands. That was my climbing roots. I climbed through college and stuff. It was a good fit.

After four years at Trango, I found this job at Hestra. I skied a lot through my years here in Colorado. To me, Hestra was the pinnacle of outdoor brands. It’s privately held. It’s Swedish designed. They own their own factories. It is seen as the crème de la crème brand in the industry. When the job came open, I was like, “I can’t not be a part of that.” That’s something that I want to pursue. Luckily, I hit it off with the team here immediately. Within a few days, I had an offer, and the rest is history.

You got a great background though. That’s how you positioned yourself up for that. Hestra makes beautiful products. I’ve never owned a pair of Hestra gloves. I was poking around the website. It tells about the product. I love a lot of these European brands. The quality put it at the top of the list. It goes first, and then everything else comes second, which is what I love.

A lot of times, the hard way is the right way.

The genesis of Hestra goes back to 1936 in this little town in Southern Sweden called Hestra. Martin Magnusson who’s a founder of the company was living in Hestra and realized that there was a need for the local lumberjacks to have good gloves. They were trying to do their jobs throughout the hardest Scandinavian winters. It gets cold, dark and wet out there.

He looked around and said, “What are the best natural materials I could source to help these guys do their job, stay warm and still have good dexterity, and the durability they need to make it through the winter doing their job?” He puts together wool, leather and then riveted them together so that they would be super durable.

I’ve seen some of the first pairs of mittens he ever put together. We have them in the vault at Hestra. He put those together. A year later, fortuitously for us, the ski basin opened in Hestra. Europe at that time was becoming more mobile. People were moving around a lot more. People were seeking recreation post-war. They were able to take that expertise in glove making and start building ski gloves.

There was a lumberjack user and now there was a ski user who needed a good solution. There happened to be a lot of opportunities from a materials perspective in Southern Sweden. We paired that expertise with the user’s needs. Now, we are in the fourth generation of the Magnusson family ownership of the company. We own four factories around the world, and all of our designs are based out of Hestra.

Our office there has a design team and they do every single design for the entire company, of which we have 400-plus models at this point. We have gloves for everything from horseback riding to skiing and mountain biking. We have Bolle gloves, work gloves and high-end dress gloves. Anything you need a glove for, we have. The line has grown on that impetus and foundation of quality glove making. We have two of the fewer than 100 master-certified glove cutters in the world on our staff. Glove cutting is a dying art. One of our imperatives as a brand is to keep that art alive, to keep practicing it and passing it onto the next generation.

Is there someone who’s training right now?

We have the two on staff. The fifth degeneration of Magnusson has been born. We have ages three and then a couple of babies in the family. I would imagine that those will get onboarded at some point.

The website’s beautiful too. With all those different categories that you’re in, tell us about the brand. That’s a lot of marketing initiatives to put together.

We divide the brand into three distinct pieces. One is sports which most people know us for, which is ski gloves. If you’ve ever seen the white leather, generally, that is a Hestra glove that is pretty iconic to the brand. We have a dress side of the business, which in the US is headquartered in New York City. We have a showroom there. We do a lot of high-end leathers. We take a lot of the performance attributes and the craft of glove cutting from the sports side and use that on the fashion side. Those gloves are also super functional.

We have a work glove line called Hestra Job. That is geared around hardcore users. We use a lot of those gloves in mountain operations for ski resorts, tradesmen, welding. Any kind of hard work that happens, we are there as well. Those three buckets are how we divide the brand. For me, I interfaced with the team in Hestra, which has a centralized team that does all three of those lines. I am the lone wolf here in the US for the brand. I do all three of those lines. It’s taking the craftsmanship and the brand message and pushing it into those unique channels. It’s a fun and dynamic job. There’s always more work to be done.

No doubt with all those categories and all those distribution channels. Talk about your go-to-market strategy. You must go to quite a few trade shows or maybe you go to none these days.

TOBP 298 | Hestra Gloves
Hestra Gloves: The more eyeballs on your brand, the more people want a piece, the more you have to protect that mission, the more you have to say no.

 

That has shifted quite a bit for many months. Every silo of the brand is different. In the sports world, we do the Outdoor Retailer and the SIA Snow Show in January. We focus on that show. It’s at the core of our selling season. Generally, we finished our selling season around mid-February. The pinnacle of that season is working towards OR. How do we get buyers there? How do we get appointments on the books? That is the key driver on that side of the business. It’s meeting with people face to face at those shows.

In 2020, we had to shift that strategy to a digital one where we’re having more digital meetings. We use NuORDER on the back end of our business. We’re using NuORDER as a driver of the digital showrooms and a key visual component to these digital meetings. That’s the sports side. The job side is a little more grassroots. We work primarily with garden centers, mountain operations, and more direct to those organization-types of sales tactics. We’re trying to get into the places where our gloves are most needed and best used.

At this point, it’s more mountain operations. We have a lot of authenticity with those users because they’re also skiers, mountain operations, patrollers, instructors. We use a lot of our job gloves in those applications. When they’re not recreationally skiing or instructing, they’re doing work. We use that authenticity and put the job gloves in those scenarios.

On the dress side, it’s PR-driven. We finished up a big media event with our PR partner. We had a virtual showroom and did a lot of things around media. We’re working with Esquire, GQ, and a lot of those publications to build exposure at the highest levels and then working directly with boutiques and all kinds of different shops to get the right gloves into those shops. For us on that side of the business, it’s about curating the right set of products for the right partners.

As a result of the pandemic, having to shift gears and move away from some of the face-to-face, have you guys implemented any new tools? Everybody talks about Zoom, but I think there are some other things that people can use video-wise to do virtual presentations. Anything new that you guys implemented, adopted or created?

Yeah. We did a couple of things. One, we put together a series of cases. We bought the big Pelican cases and put together a curated selection of samples. Put them in those boxes and sent them on the road. We were lucky enough to be able to have multiple of those boxes out on the road at any given time. The buyers were able to get that tactile feeling of the dress gloves specifically. One of the things about Hestra is you can articulate these attributes as much as you want to about how carefully we source our leathers, construct the gloves, and all of those things that we go through painstakingly to put the gloves together for you. At the end of the day, the difference is putting your hands into gloves.

That was key for us to win over new buyers who were like, “Their gloves are an accessory,” and us articulating like, “Yeah, but there’s so much more than that.” When you are in real-time on the video with the buyer as they slipped their hand into the glove, then you get that reaction. You’re saying, “We’ve got something special here.” That’s been helpful for us.

On the other side, it’s getting into shop employees and educating them on the nuance and the differentiation between Hestra and other glove companies. We use a platform called Endeavor. We’ve been able to use that to connect with those shop employees who are actively on the floor selling Hestra products. To be able to connect with them in meaningful ways and give them the education, tools and resources they need to be able to sell the gloves knowledgeably, and to be able to recommend the right gloves. The key is with a 400-model line, how do you pair it down to the one model that a specific user needs?

Whatever business you’re in, one size fits all just fits no one at all.

You cover a lot of activities and different avenues. You have so much for everything. Let’s circle back to the Seth Godin programs a little bit. Are there 2 or 3 tactics or ideas you’ve implemented in the day-to-day business that you picked up in those programs or anything?

One of the cornerstone things that Seth talks about is the concept of gloves or whatever business you’re in, one size fits all, fits no one. What you need to do as a brand and as a creator of anything, products, services or media is understanding who is it that you seek to change. Whether that is changing someone’s mind or perception about your brand or whether that is changing their idea of what it means to do a certain activity or what that looks like. He talks about people like us do things like this. Not to make generalizations of groups of people or even to exclude people but to say, “We’re creating a product for this person.”

We’re creating a glove for someone who is high-output Alpine touring or backcountry skiing, mountaineering, or riding the resorts. Through that creation process, we have that person in mind. What I have to keep in mind across these 400 models is who specifically is each of these designed for? How do we change their mind about the glove they’re in versus the glove that they could be in, or their perception of what product they need, or their perception of the problem that they’re facing?

TOBP 298 | Hestra Gloves
Hestra Gloves: Over the last few years, we’ve really seen a shift in apparel. People have started thinking more about wearables and analytics.

 

How do we come alongside them as a partner and say, “We’ve got something for that,” or “Here’s a different way to consider that,” or “Let’s shift that perspective?” That’s driven a lot of what we do. For us, the core of that is we live and breathe gloves. We’re the glove experts. We only make gloves. We have only ever made gloves, and we will only ever make gloves. For us, it’s pushing into that idea that we know everything the 85 years have given us in terms of glove craft.

Most people see gloves as an accessory. How do we change their mind about that? How do we build trust that we are the right solution for them, and we have a product that will fill the need that they’re experiencing or that pain point that they’re experiencing? We like to use the anecdote internally that we’ve all been. If you’re a skier and you’ve been to a ski resort, you’ve seen the mom, the dad, the family sitting at the base. The kid was crying because their hands were cold. The dad’s sitting there doing the mental calculus of like, “How many dollars am I spending per run?” We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen that happen.

For us, it’s how do we build trust with these users and build the conscientiousness of your gear is an investment from head to toe, all the way out to your fingertips. It is an investment in the quality of your day, activity, and family time together. You spending a little bit more on a product that can help solve those problems is a worthy thing to spend on. Carefully considering where you’re spending your dollars when it comes to your kit is important. It’s not just how do I look or how much did I spend, but it’s also about the quality of the experience.

It’s like the 1,000 True Fans thing from Kevin Kelly. If you find 1,000 people who exactly love what you do, or if you create something that’s targeted at those 1,000 people, you’ll have a good brand or business if you come up with something to sell to them. It’s got to be targeted for that specific group. It’s got to be that specific. There’s a lot of opportunities there. It’s a challenge to find those 1,000 people, but they’re like you. There are 1,000 people like you and me. Our doppelgangers are out there, we just need to find them. Is there anything new coming out that you can talk about in the line?

We’re doing some interesting things with heated products. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in apparel. People have started thinking more about wearables and analytics. I’m a runner. I have my watch. At this point, I feel weird going on a run without my watch. I feel exposed and under-informed in terms of my performance. People are starting to think in those terms. I do think that there are days, times, and applications where you need to turn that stuff off. In terms of heated products, what we see is this movement to push your garments a little bit further. How can we do that?

The traditional model in the glove industry is we put heating elements in a glove. You have 3, 4 settings. That keeps you going for 4, 6, 8, 10 hours of the day. You come back and you recharge those, which is a great application. We have some strong products in that area. I think the next horizon and what we’re launching is called the Tactility Heat Liner, which is incredible. The whole concept is that you can make any glove a heated glove.

Generally speaking, heated liners and gloves are bulky because of the electronics and the things you have to put in there. You obviously want them to be high loft because you want them to be warm. You want them to be waterproof. You’re putting all of these features into the glove, but that limits it in terms of application across multiple pairs of gloves.

It becomes a baseball mitt.

Even more than that, you have all of these things baked into the product itself, and those things can’t be extracted and applied elsewhere. With this tactility heat liner, we have partnered with a company called Nuheat who makes heated threads. Generally speaking, you have heating elements that are cables. These are heated threads that are applied to any garment. They’re heat bonded and taped onto the garment. We found that our glove technology in liners packs a good punch, weight to warmth ratio.

We found a thin, durable, warm liner that can fit under almost any glove. We applied this Nuheat product to that liner. The beauty of it is that you can wear it as a liner by itself, or you can put it under literally any glove. It is thin enough to slide under any of our gloves. If you know Hestra, we have some tailored fitting gloves, especially from our Ergo grip line, but these will fit under any gloves.

You can make any glove a heated glove and carry that with you across all of your glove quiver, which is something that we have not seen before. It’s something we’re excited about. That’s launching soon. Supplies are extremely limited. If you can find a pair, I would highly recommend getting to them. We’re going to scale up.

Everybody’s having challenges on that end. We won’t get into that. That’d be a whole other show. How about your three top marketing tips every outdoor marketing manager needs to know? What are those?

One, understanding yourself and your value to your organization. This doesn’t sound like a marketing tip, but if you’ve worked in the outdoor industry, you know that a lot of the companies are small and medium-sized. Early in my career, I found myself trying to be everything to everyone, and not understanding where my value was to the organization where I could make the most impact. As I’ve grown with companies, I’ve realized, “There’s a handful of things that I’m good at and there are other things that I’m not.” There are things within the context of the company that we do well. Let’s focus our time and energy there. If you’re in this industry and you’re on a marketing team, generally speaking, you’re doing a lot of different things.

That prioritization is important. That goes all the way back to what is your brand all about? That’s the second thing, understanding the message of your brand. It’s easy to get caught chasing and seeing what everyone else is doing. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve sat in over the years. I’ve been in this industry for many years. I’ve sat in tons and tons of meetings where people internally are saying, “This other brand is doing this,” or “Our competitor is doing that.” I want to pull my hair out when I hear that because we want to be true to who we are.

If we take care of ourselves and if we are true to the mission that we’ve put in place and to those things that we exist for, then everything else will take care of itself. People see that and understand that. People resonate with the message of who we are and we’ve crafted that message well. If the company is on track with that, that cures a lot of things. That makes people understand and gives a connection with those users that we seek to serve.

It focuses right back on your target audience, your 1,000 true fans.

Understand your mission to understand who you are and what you bring to the table.

It’s keeping that narrow focus and that narrow focus will scale. At a certain point, it will begin to scale. When you get to that tipping point with that 1000 true fans, then you start to see that momentum. It starts to roll downhill. We’ll progress forward, so this could be a linear thing. You get to that point and then it’s about understanding what it means to scale. Scale your marketing, scale yourself and scale your products. The more eyeballs you have on your brand, the more people want a piece. The more you have to protect that mission and the more you have to say no. In the beginning, it’s about how can I get exposure?

I’m pushing the rock up the hill. When you get to the top of the hill, it’s about how do I put on the brakes a little bit and how do we do things in a meaningful way and build towards a sustainable future for our company? My father-in-law is running a specialty business. He owns a running specialty store, one location, no real website to speak of. He knows what his business is. He always told me, and this is great advice for anyone, “Businesses don’t fail because they have too little business. They failed because they have too much business and they can’t handle it.” They can’t scale. You’re pulled in a million different directions.

As the lone person here, I’m getting sponsorship and partnership requests. I’m getting people who want me to use their software, to buy ads with them, to do all of these things. It’s about understanding and asking yourself the same questions. Every single decision you have to make should go back to that ground zero of, who are we and what are we trying to do? If it doesn’t fit that, then don’t do it.

As you said earlier, people like us do things like this. If it doesn’t fit the people like us or the things like this, it’s out. The answer is no. Let’s shift gears here. What outdoor activities do you participate in? It sounds like you still climb, ski and run. Do you get on a bike, paddle or anything?

My wife bought us a paddleboard. We spent a good amount of time on the water paddling around and exposing our kids to that, which is awesome. I’m a few days out from a marathon. That has become all-consuming. I was a runner through high school and a soccer player. Running is core to who I am and to my identity as an athlete and as a person. I’m spending a lot of time doing that. I have an eye on the ski season. We got a little bit of snow up in the high country here in Colorado. I’m looking to get out a lot and make some turns.

Running is a great sport. I miss it. It’s super fun. Do you have any suggestions or advice for folks wanting to get into the outdoor business?

I would say a couple of things. Think industry has evolved at a rapid rate. I remember the days, and you’d probably do too, where people would get jobs based on, “I’m a climber. I’m a skier. I know the subject matter.” I won’t say those days are behind us, but I think that the industry has evolved. I’m in all of the groups on social media and LinkedIn and all those things where people are constantly asking like, “I love camping and hiking. How do I get into the outdoor industry?” My question back to those people is like, “What are you good at? What are you interested in providing to a brand? What value do you bring to a company or to a brand? How can you push that brand forward?”

TOBP 298 | Hestra Gloves
Hestra Gloves: If we take care of ourselves and if we are true to the mission that we’ve put in place and to those things that we exist for, then everything else will take care of itself.

 

Understanding your value, your attributes, and yourself before you step into that realm. In anything you do, understand your mission, who you are, and what you bring to the table. Find a company that values those things and is looking for the same things. Looking for jobs is a two-way street. When you get to the interview process, it’s a two-way interview. When I was job searching, I would look at hundreds of job descriptions for jobs that I found interesting.

I would start to cull that down and copy and paste it into a document. All of the things I liked or thought I could do. All the companies that sounded like they might be places I’d like to work. Maybe they had a mission that resonated with me. Maybe they make products that I liked or was passionate about. Maybe they operated in a space where I operate, running companies or whatever. I work for a ski glove company now. It’s starting to understand and hone in on what it is you’re looking for specifically.

The second piece of that is once you know that, finding out who the key people are in those spaces or in those companies, and reaching out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached out to people and said, “I’d love to have a conversation with you. I’d love to pick your brain about this or that.” This industry is wonderful for that. People are so stoked to talk shop. People are super receptive. Never hesitate to ask the question. I’ve had people who’ve completely not answered me and that’s fine too. At the end of the day, more often than not, people have been receptive and super helpful in helping forge my path.

That’s good advice. You need to narrow down what you want, what you are about, and the places that can give that to you, and be relentless in pursuing it. What’s your favorite outdoor gear purchase under $100?

I’ve been running a lot. I’m about to start my taper. There’s a brand out of Montreal. I love smaller brands that do accessory things, as you can imagine. There’s a company called Ciele. They make a product called the Go Cap. All they do is running hats. I’ve probably run 600 to 700 miles in this hat and it looks brand new. It looks good. It’s got a nice design. The fabrics are fantastic. I can throw it in the washing machine. I have found myself wearing that more often than not. My friends and I live within a few blocks of each other. We’re all running the same marathon. We all are training, putting in a lot of miles, and they always say they can see me coming a mile away because of that hat. I have loved it.

As we wrap up here, is there anything else you’d like to say or ask of our readers?

As this industry starts to evolve, we’re starting to see people champion diversity, inclusion and opening the doors to the outdoors to everyone. I would challenge everyone to challenge their own assumptions. We are all products of our backgrounds and our histories. We’re all at a point as a nation collectively where we need to challenge those assumptions. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, ask the hard questions and find people around you who can help you answer those questions. That’s something that I’ve found useful.

I had a conversation with Melanie Hood, who’s the marketing manager at SCARPA, about all the wonderful things they’re doing, through their mentorship program and to champion diversity in the industry, inclusion and representation. Challenge yourself, go ask those questions, and take a learning mindset. Never stop learning. My wife’s an educator. She always talks about a growth mindset and a learning mindset. I want to always cultivate in myself and the people around me a lifestyle of learning. That is my challenge to all of you reading this.

That’s a good challenge. I am 100% behind that. I try to keep learning my entire life. There are so many things to learn. If people want to follow up with you, where can they find you?

You can connect with me on LinkedIn. My Instagram handle is @DrewEakins or @HestraGloves. We’re an open house. We’re here in Arvada, Colorado. It’s right on the crest of the hill. I can see Denver on the Eastside and the mountains on the Westside. If you’re ever in our neighborhood, feel free to drop by and I’ll show you the 400 models of gloves in our showroom.

I look forward to seeing that next time I’m in Denver. I got to check that out. It’s been great chatting with you. Thanks for coming on. I look forward to connecting again. We’ll talk soon.

Thanks so much.

Thanks, Drew.

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