What it Takes: Trew Gear
What is your company? How did you get started?
We started TREW in 2009. We had an idea for a snow bib that would be an ideal product for backcountry skiing and snowboarding, which, at that time, was a new market for our industry. We made a run of samples and hit the road. Nothing happened that first season as we expected. Our goal was to get into wide distribution through independent retailers on the West coast, but our first order was for a large distributor in Japan. That led us to our first production and we were off running.
What is/was the hardest obstacle(s) you've had to overcome?
Oh man, there are so many episodes that come to mind: several production struggles, running out of cash many times, finding the right people to work with. But I would say that the hardest transition for me in the business was becoming a manager of people as CEO rather than just managing myself and our products. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural leader, but I think that makes me better in the end because I have to try harder.
What are near-term (and longer-term) plans for the future of your business?
I hope to get lots of new customers every year, pay our team well, and go skiing a ton.
Who or what inspires you as an individual or as a company?
The European ski market has always been inspiring to me. The products are beautiful, highly technical, and sometimes super wacky! The culture there around the mountains is also so unique. It’s just built-in to the way of life in the Alps and it is surrounded by so much tradition and heritage.
As an individual, I’ve always been inspired by music. I especially love jazz. I love listening to the bebop pioneers of the 50’s and being inspired by their innovations in the face of constant adversity. And they’re just so damn cool.
What do you look for in a new partner/company to work with?
I’m inspired by any individuals or companies that are loaded with creative energy.
What impact do you hope or want to make on consumers, communities, society in general?
When we first started designing products for our market, we intended to make our gear more inclusive to individuals of all abilities. We wanted our bibs to be priced and designed in a way that encourages beginner and intermediate riders to experience the backcountry. Today, we have a whole new understanding of what it means to be inclusive: race, beliefs, body-types, etc. I hope to continue on that journey and design products that help a larger diversity of individuals experience the backcountry. We believe that the more individuals that learn to love the mountains like we do, the more healthy, happy, and motivated people will be in the world.
Can you share an important mistake/misstep you made in the business?
Lacking focus is the biggest mistake we can make. Working harder and harder can only get you so far until you truly understand the priorities of the business and what actions will bring real impact.
Can you share something about yourself (your business) that many might be surprised to learn?
I think many people would be surprised to learn that there are only five full-time employees at TREW. It’s amazing what you can do with a small team of passionate people!
What it Takes is a series of interviews with founders who were brave enough to take the leap, make mistakes, pivot, and keep going. This is What It Takes to be an entrepreneur. If you're a creator who is determined to follow a purpose or push the boundaries, then you’ve signed up to make mistakes, that’s the price of innovation.