Vasque is asking people to log outside. And if you’re not careful they just might take your phone and make that a formal request!
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How did you get connected to Vasque?
It was 11 years ago. I’ve been with Vasque in one way, shape, or form for 11 years now. Vasque is the outdoor brand within the Red Wing Shoe Company. So Red Wing Boots has been around for more than 115 years. I was looking for boots online. I was on jcrew.com shopping for Boots. For Red Wing Heritage Boots. Then for whatever reason, I moved to click on the careers tab and found a job in of all things demand planning. I threw my name into the hat for that and that started my career at Red Wing Shoe Company.
How did you get into the Outdoor Industry?
I would say the outdoor industry kind of found me more than I was out to find a job in the outdoor industry. I didn’t know it existed before I found Red Wing and by proxy Vasque.
Now you’re, after all these experiences, you are the marketing director for Vasque, right? So what’s a day in the life for Joe as the marketing director? For the Vasque brand specifically?
That’s a great question. I mean, it depends upon the day, right? That’s one of the beauties of this job. It’s one of the things that I just love about it is, no day is the same. There are elements of my days that are planned and elements that are very much unplanned.
I typically on a general day try to carve out 45 minutes to not be on a Zoom call, or not be in a meeting and you know, journal and think and assess. But I have to be very deliberate with that because if I didn’t, I would be in meetings from eight to five every single. The beauty of my role is I need to keep an eye outside of the walls of Vasque. Looking at culture, looking at the outdoor industry as a whole. Looking at everything within the cultural zeitgeist to ensure that this brand is staying relevant.
How much travel is there, is there a lot of travel other than trade shows?
I would say. Yeah, there was a lot, a lot of travel before the pandemic. There was a point where, I’ve got two kids who are now six and a half, and five Once I landed in Tokyo and my wife sent me a video of my little kids. They were probably, three and four at the time, swinging on the swing set in the backyard. And there was an airplane that flew up over the house and both of them pointed at the airplane and they said, daddy. Yea, so there was a point where I was traveling a lot.
You recently posted something about changes at Vasque. Can you share anything about that with us yet?
Yeah, we’re finally beyond the lockdown. So it’s a new brand platform for Vasque.
We know through our research that the number one reason people go outdoors is to find a sense of escape from the stressors of our daily life lives. And we did this research both pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and post-pandemic. We found that the average American at the height of the pandemic was spending 12 hours a day staring at a screen. Let that sink in for a minute. 12 hours a day. And while that number has thankfully come down as the world is started to open back up, the average American now as of 2023, late 2022, still spent seven hours looking at screens per day.
With that research, we identified the simple fact that it’s possible that screens play a major role in deterring people from going outside.
So the new log outside platform is really out to mindfully change that, and really gently pull people off of their screens if only for 30 minutes a day
So how’s it work?
It’s kind of a multifaceted approach. We flipped all of our channels with a new aesthetic. We’re not telling people to throw their phones away or anything like that. These things have unlocked opportunities we didn’t know possible. Right? We’re basically trying to illustrate the fact that there are real tangible things just outside the screen.
And we’ve kind of really flipped most of our channels to be more of a gentle invitation slash reminder that life exists outside this thing.
How were you introduced to the outside lifestyle?
Oh man, I grew up on a small acreage outside of a small town in rural Minnesota. Some of my first memories, I was probably five or six years old, and I was just out. We had some acres and I would just go out in the morning on a Saturday with a backpack and spend the day out there exploring.
How’d you get into cycling? I got into cycling, during college up in Duluth. We utilized cycling as a recovery mechanism. I was a baseball pitcher. And that’s what we would do on our days off. We would cycle or we would run, et cetera. So I got into cycling a little bit. Then after college, did a bike ride across the state of Iowa called the Rag Brai.
What other outdoor activities do you do?
We camp in the backyard quite a bit. We’re lucky enough to live right above the Mississippi River in St. Paul. And we have a waterfall across the street from our house that runs into the Mississippi River. It’s called Shadow Falls.
And you know, I look at my childhood experience of having such easy access. to being outside in a very safe way. I grew up out in the country. My children are growing up in the middle of twin cities. But we’re so blessed to have a ton of green space around our house. So I spun up this little Shadow Falls Explorers Club. There are three, well, there are four members counting my wife, so my two children, myself, and my wife. And, we try to get out and become as familiar as possible with our surroundings so they’re comfortable. we got all the gear we need. So I do a lot of hiking with my kids. I was a swimmer growing up as well, so I do a fair amount of swimming in the summer and a lot of cycling.
What is, what are your suggestions and advice for folks that want to get into the Outdoor Biz?
I think just being interested in the business side of it, I guess, right? There’s no shortage of people that are interested in the outdoors. Having the opportunity to work in an industry that empowers so many people to live healthy lives is super attractive.
What’s your favorite piece of outdoor gear under a hundred dollars?
Oh gosh. We’re gonna put the air quotes on gear and I’m gonna do a PSA.
My favorite piece of outdoor gear that’s most critical to my longevity and my success is an eight-ounce bottle of sunscreen. Gotta protect yourself from the sun tangentially to that I suppose is one of those big, you know, uh, bucket hats from Outdoor Research that protect your face and your neck from the UV rays that can really get people into some trouble.
What are a couple of your favorite books?
You know, my reading list as of late is, um, really not that interesting. Reports, Spreadsheets, I’m reading the Harvard Business Review collection on Strategy, Managing People, Leadership, Change Management, those are good books, et cetera.
I would say that kind of the first book that I read that really opened my eyes to like the sense of adventure was probably something that’s been brought up hundreds of times, but it’s a book called Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. Bill Bryson, all of his hits are amazing. So those are some of the few. I’m reading a book right now by the manager of the Grateful Dead. It’s fascinating. About the early days, kind of the trajectory of what I’m gonna go on the record and say to be the best band in the world.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to or ask of our listeners?
Oh man, thank you, for listening. Thank you for making it all the way here. I appreciate the time. I would say a plug for Vasque. If you know about us through the years, check us out again. We’re definitely evolving the way we’re operating. Our products are evolving the way you go outside. And this new brand platform is really, We hope is impactful to the betterment of people’s lives. And I say that so genuinely. It’s something that we’re really proud of, we’re really passionate about. The last thing would be if you’re outside, good on ya. And if you’re not, try to find 30 minutes today and get out there.
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