This week on episode 337 OrthoLites‘ newest footwear technology, Cirql, has been making waves in the industry. Cirql technology is aimed at helping usher the footwear industry towards a more sustainable and environmentally sound future and newly enlisted Chief Brand Officer Kristin Burrows is here to tell us all about it!
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How were you introduced to the outdoors?
That’s a great question. Cause I wouldn’t really say my parents are, quote unquote, outdoorsy people. They love the outdoors, but it wasn’t first and foremost. So when I think back when I was born, my dad was in grad school. My mom was actually, well, she was pregnant with me when she graduated from college. So I think really given, given the financial situation, the outdoors quickly became our playpen. And I can remember running, walking/running to the pool in our complex biking, and hiking. So I think pretty simply put, it was a forced but great necessity.
You’ve recently joined Ortholite, in a newly created role right?
Yeah, it is. So the chief brand officer is a newly created role, as you mentioned, that’s really interesting. Although we’ve been providing comfort, performance, and sustainable footwear solutions to footwear brands for 25 years, we’ve predominantly been a sales and manufacturing-driven company.
And so really when we think about most of our current inflection point 25 years in, and what’s really important for us to drive growth next, it’s really time for us to shout from the mountaintop a bit more about how and why we’re different and to continue to separate ourselves from commodity type products that are out there and how we can really partner with our brand partners in a way that helps them deliver against their objectives. thinking of ourselves as a solution for their comfort needs, their performance needs, and increasingly important their sustainability needs and what their management, their board of directors are insisting upon in terms of what they’re doing with their product and process to benefit the environment.
How’d you get connected, with OrthoLite?
I became connected to OrthoLite through an executive recruiter, a gentleman by the name of Ken Snyder. I used to work for his wife when I was president of Keds. And when the opportunity came up, like any good man. Right? He discussed it with his wife, and she thought of me. So, really that’s how it all happened.
But the really interesting thing is, although I live in New York, well outside of New York in Scarsdale, The company is based in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the twist of all twists. I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Glen, the CEO actually knows my mom. So whenever I come to the Amherst office, I stay with my parents. I stay in the room that I grew up in. Surrounded by my yearbooks, my rainbow and unicorn stickers are still on my window.
Now you’re working with Circl now, Circl is a new initiative, right? That sounds pretty exciting. Tell us about that.
Although we’ve, as I mentioned earlier, have a long history, of leveraging recycled products into our products and being very focused on waste, the carbon footprint, etcetera, through our process to us, that north star of being truly circular and actually creating a product that can be composted back into the ground is the ultimate. We have not launched in market yet. We plan to have the first product in market in 2023, but what we have through our various partners, is developed a midsole product that can be composted back into soil.
Now the key is of course, as part of this, we also need to be able to provide the customer once they buy this product, with a way to get it back to a place that can break it down and compose it. So that’s the other leg of the stool that we’re working on.
Imagine a world where you’re done with your shoes, instead of putting them in a bag for Goodwill, you’re putting them a bag on your front step and it’s getting taken to a place that they can be ripped apart and broken down and returned again, ideally back to soil or recycled into something else. Right?
Do you have three learnings that you rely on that you’ve learned over the years now that you’re at the top of the chain?
I think first of all, really listening and hearing what your customers are saying. Instead of believing kind of what you think is correct, and sort of taking yourself out of that and focusing on what problem are you really trying to solve for them? And what are they telling you in terms of the problems they’re looking for you to solve?
I think number two is instead of having the right answers, really focusing on asking the right questions. And I am still working on this, but I try. I try to always take the time to figure out what is the right question to ask what’s the right way to frame that question. And what’s the right way to ask that what’s the right way. What’s the right tone of voice to ask that question. Cause I think that’s very important.
I would say lastly, and this, this one did, did take me a while and I can remember days at Adidas as a PLM where I would always feel like I had to have the right answers and that it wasn’t okay that I didn’t know something. So I think my third piece would be, don’t feel like you have to have the right answers again, it goes back to number two, right? Figure out how to ask the right question.
What outdoor activities do you participate in these days?
I still run. I still do a lot of walking. Sort of my therapy place is either water skiing or snow skiing, I like water skiing.
Do you have any daily routines to keep your sanity?
I exercise every day, but I would say one of the biggest things that helped me over the past three years is, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of something called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod? He basically looked at quote unquote successful people across a variety of spaces and found sort of six things that they had in common that they did in the morning. Meditation, Exercise, Scribing or writing visualizations, Affirmations, and Reading. And so the miracle morning is actually spending time doing each of those. I have to admit that, I sometimes cheat and don’t do each of them, but, I think just even taking five minutes to breathe, right? Thinking about how you wanna live your day and what does success look like for that day and then moving your body so critical.
Do you have any other favorite books or books you give us gifts?
Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
What’s your favorite outdoor gear purchase under one hundred dollars?
I would probably say it’s my Andi backpack.