4. 7Rs: Repair with Rudy Glocker
Hello, and welcome back to the outdoor minimalist podcast. I'm your host, Meg Carney, and I'm an outdoor environmental writer and author of the book Outdoor Minimalist: Waste Less Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking set to be released on September 1st 2022. The Outdoor Minimalist podcast has a goal to give listeners actionable ways to waste less while they're hiking, camping, backpacking and more during every step of their process. Your impact outdoor starts long before you hit the trail and goes beyond Leave No Trace ethics. You'll learn how to identify sustainable outdoor brands, how to ask hard questions regarding sustainability, and begin to shift and evolve your mindset to integrate minimalism into all of your outdoor pursuits.
In this episode of the Outdoor Minimalist podcast, we will be discussing the fourth R within the seven R's of outdoor minimalism, which is repair. If you don't know what the first three R's include, they are reduce, refuse, and rethink. For a full overview of all three of those and how they conceptually relate to outdoor minimalism, I recommend jumping back and listening to episode 2. This includes an in-depth description of all of those concepts.
Now, when we talk about the concept of repairing and how it fits into outdoor minimalism and outdoor recreation, we also have to understand the underlying purpose of repairing anything. We're fixing a problem that made that item difficult, if not impossible, to use. There's a lot to be said about how to repair outdoor gear, so I'll likely make repair into a series within the podcast to break it down into more detail, but for this episode, we're going to focus on how repair and gear applies to the concept of outdoor minimalism and why it's important to implement more repair options into the outdoor industry production model.
To help me do that, I'd like to introduce today's guest, Rudy Glocker. Rudy is the owner and founder of Burgeon Outdoor. Rudy founded Burgeon to create a better tomorrow for mountain communities such as Lincoln, New Hampshire, where they're located. Burgeon accomplishes its mission by making its products locally and contributing five percent of its sales to environmental and community efforts. You can learn more about them at www.burgeonoutdoor.com, and I'll link that in the episode description.
MEG: Welcome to the Outdoor Minimalist podcast Rudy, and thank you for taking time out of your schedule to chat today.
RUDY: It's great to be here, Meg. Thank you for having me I'm excited to be on your podcast and looking forward to having a little bit of fun with it.
MEG: Yeah, so today we are going to focus on the topic of repair, but before we jump into that if you could tell us a little bit about you and your background outdoors and how Burgeon got started, that would be great for the listeners.
RUDY: Sure, Meg, so I was fortunate when I was a child to have a family that went skiing and hiking. So we went skiing every winter and hiking every summer up in the New England region mainly. So I was on skis when I was five; I probably hiked Mount Washington for the first time when I was seven or somewhere in that neighborhood. I don't remember, but I always enjoyed the outdoors. And as I grew in my life and did some different things, um, I ended up being in Boston for several years and found myself spending a ton of time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, probably 30 weekends a year I was up there hiking, skiing, doing something. And it just really cemented my love of the places I'm sure many of your listeners have where you grow an attachment to an area just because you have so many great memories and there are so many wonderful things to do.
The idea for Burgeon came because as I was recreating in these areas, I was looking around, and what I thought was interesting was that a lot of the, you know, gear, for lack of a better term, whether it be backpacks or clothing or shoes etc none of it was made there. As I looked around, I always sort of thought, "Why?" For the listeners who don't know, New England has a very rich background in manufacturing, excuse me, specifically in the textiles area. People take a strong work ethic and pride in what they do. As I was trying to think of a way to create a sustainable business that benefited mountain communities, I settled on apparel as a way to do that because a lot of the infrastructure, though very latent, was there at one point. There are still some remnants of it that I could use to grow Burgeon Outdoor into the company that it is today and, hopefully, what will be coming in the future.
MEG: Yeah, that's a really interesting concept. I didn't know all that about New England and textiles, which is very interesting. Rudy and I first connected when writing an article about Burgeon Outdoor, so I learned a lot about the company from that initial interview. Still, for the listener's sake, something that stuck out to me was their focus on sustainability in terms of production and community and working with their employees. So, could you expand on those aspects of your company?
RUDY: Absolutely. So, think about sustainability in a holistic way. So yes, we try to use recycled polyester whenever we can, organic cotton, and a lot of things that other companies are doing. We also have used sustainability to run a sustainable business and help create a sustainable resource where we live. If you think about you know the great outdoors, whether it's the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the Wasatch Range in Utah or a National Park in California, they're amazing resources if we take care of them, but they need a lot of you know they need a lot of love. Right? There's a lot that goes in to maintain, preserve, and sustain them.
As I founded Burgeon, I wanted to create a holistic business model. What we say is, we invest in our people, we invest in the environment, and we invest in the social fabric of the community where we're located. And what that means is yes, we make our products there. I mean, as you mentioned, we donate five percent of our sales to our environmental and community efforts, but those are things, for instance, um, you know, we do trail maintenance because that's important to preserve a great resource. We work with local charities who help get people outside, such as New England disabled sports and others. We've used sustainability not only because the products we put out in the world are sustainable but because our business model is adding to the sustainability of the resources that people come to the White Mountains and enriches the social fabric of those communities by making them great places to live, to visit, to work, to do different things. So sustainability for us is not just about the product. It's about the process and about what the company's trying to achieve.
MEG: That's a pretty amazing, um, like a company model, I guess, that I haven't necessarily seen done in their outdoor industry companies. I've seen it in maybe one or two, but holistic sustainability is a good term to put on that. One part of your company as far as sustainability goes is environmental sustainability. It would be interesting to talk about the community and employee aspects a bit more, but today, I want to focus on the environmental aspect.
I recently read a report by Greenpeace saying that "2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases are produced in the apparel industry." So, it's not textiles as a whole but just apparel. And that "about 80 billion pieces of clothing are being produced globally each year, but by extending the life of clothing by just nine months of active use or the equivalent of one to two usage seasons, it could reduce the total carbon emitted from that waste and water footprint by 20 to 30 percent."
One part of your business model at Burgeon Outdoor is that you have a repair business. I guess, is it a business in your production line?
RUDY: It's a business, yes. You know we do repairs for people. Luckily, we have only had to repair a few of our products, but we do those, you know, basically free of charge unless somebody mutilated something. We also do a business where, excuse me, we have a business where we, you know, you walk in off the street. You have, you know, somebody else's jacket, and it needs a new zipper, or you know you need a patch on it because you tore it on a tree, and you're waterproof; you know jackets are no longer as waterproof as it used to be. So we do that for customers both for individuals, and the other thing that's interesting about it is what happened last year is when other businesses in town, so you know, in theory, our competitors sometimes get products that need repairs because the zippers were faulty or things like that. So we take those quote-unquote brand new products and fix them and then give them back to our competitors um so that you don't have to ship them back for repairs or they just get thrown out or wasted um and things like that. So, we view repairs as part of that holistic approach.
As you mentioned, you know, if you can wear a jacket an extra year and you just think, let's just say you have five jackets, well that's, you know, in theory, that's like your 20% reduction, right there if we can get an extra year out of something. So, it's a real critical part of the way we view our holistic sustainability.
MEG: One thing I think that often gets neglected in terms of repair that you touched on is that the items that we're buying should be more durable in the first place. So, is the company making them in a way that allows a customer to use that item for years and years, or are they being produced to be replaced so they cannot be repaired?
RUDY: Yeah, I mean, we see all kinds of garments come through our door. The good news is that you know, a lot of our competitors are making high-quality garments. Unfortunately, things happen to them, so that, that's probably, I mean, that, the vast majority of our repair business. To use an example I alluded to earlier, let's say you're a backcountry skier. You might rip a jacket or a pair of pants on, um, a tree branch sticking out somewhere, so you know we can make that repair.
Interestingly enough, we see a lot of stuff that people have had. This is my favorite jacket; I've worn it for ten years. Can you please help me get two more years out of it? We'll replace a zipper or two because zippers tend to break. So we see a lot of high-quality products out there. We're less fast fashion in the outdoor category because our customers are more demanding. That's just a theory; I have no proof for it. So, we have yet to see as much of what I'll call fast fashion in the outdoor space, or at least not in the repair business for us. We at Burgeon believe that making high-quality products is important, and we hope you can buy a product of ours and use it for the next, you know, six or seven years and not have an issue. Sometimes accidents happen, and we want to be there when it does so you can extend the life of your favorite piece of gear.
MEG: Yeah, that all makes a lot of sense. I've probably mostly experienced durable items in the outdoor industry as far as clothing goes, but I also have had experiences where it could be considered fast fashion. There are outdoor lines that maybe larger retailers try to sell, but most outdoor savvy buyers wouldn't necessarily gravitate towards those that'd be more like beginners; they're not sure what to look for in the product and would maybe buy into those fast fashion type things.
And as far as repairs go in like your repair business, you said a lot of zippers and a lot of, um, larger companies were reaching out to you to help keep up with their repairs, but what do you think is the most common repair that you guys see?
RUDY: The most common repair, I haven't done the math, but somewhere between 60 and 65 percent of our repairs involve a zipper. Zippers, as you can imagine, on a jacket that you've had, if you have a favorite pocket, you know you've opened and closed that zipper, you know, hundreds if not thousands of times. Depending on what you're doing, things can get caught in zippers, whether it's dirt, just different things, the jacket itself or the pair of pants itself, um, you know, it rips a pocket, you know, things get caught in it.
So that's a big culprit that we see. It's also one for us that is the easiest to fix in some ways, but it's a relatively straightforward fix because we have zippers. We have five-inch zippers and five-and-a-half-inch zippers, and we have whatever on the half-inch from 20 to 30-inch zippers, right? So we can repair jackets, Pockets, etc., and that's the number one stress point.
The second most stress point after zippers is probably, you know, another third of it is just from people who, you know, use their products and end up ripping on something. We have a lot of backcountry skiers and climbers, so you're wearing harnesses, you know, there's, sharp metal objects if you're a climber and things like that, and you know, packs and things like that are sliding over, and so we get a lot of tears. Those probably make up literally 90% of the repairs that we do. But again, zippers would be number one, followed by torn garments.
MEG: Those were probably the types of repairs I've seen the most on a lot of my gear, but I'm kind of a DIY type of person, and I'll try to repair things. I like sewing. So I'll end up repairing many of my clothes or backpacks and things like that. So I don't have a lot of experience sending in materials to be repaired by a company. I think the only time I've done that is with an Osprey backpack that some buckles were broken, and I didn't have replacement ones.
Do you think a lot of consumers would gravitate towards fixing an item if they knew the company had a repair system like yours in place?
RUDY: I absolutely think they would, and the evidence that we've seen, um, you know, would support that. We had, I mean, to give you a story from me, it was last week or the week before. You know we're pretty close to the Appalachian Trail. So for those listeners out there, um, the Appalachian Trail basically runs right through Lincoln, um, and we had a thru-hiker, um, who was staying at a local hostel and said, uh geez, on my tent fly, my zippers ripped. I can't use my ten fly. I need to get this thing fixed. So, um, they said oh well, you should see if the guys at Burgeon can fix it for you. Given it as a thing, we turned it around literally that day; they went down to the coffee shop down the building from us and, you know, had a coffee and a sandwich while we repaired their zipper, um, and then, you know, lo and behold, the next day somebody else who was a thru-hiker who was staying in that hostel was back with another repair.
So you know, once people know they can do that, um, they're very happy to do so. For us to fix, you know, the zipper on that tent fly, I don't remember the number, but you know, it was like $20-25, or something like that is what we charged. I don't know what a new tent fly would cost, but I guess it was probably five or six times that. And so, it's the thing that I think people see not only as a great sustainable thing but also as a great economic thing. You know, replacing a zipper on a nice ski jacket, which I remember we did for somebody. I don't know what a new ski shell will cost this upcoming year with supply issues, but it's hundreds and hundreds of dollars, um, and we can fix a zipper for maybe 35 or 40. It's a great deal economically, and it's a great deal sustainably, and that's the win-win kind of situation that we're trying to create at Burgeon.
You can enjoy the outdoors and be good to the environment, and it doesn't mean that it has to be the most expensive way to do it. It can actually, you know, everybody can win here, and that's important to us.
MEG: Yeah, I'm glad you brought up the economic value of repairing because I do think investing in brand-new outdoor equipment isn't always accessible for people, especially if they invested in a high-quality brand, to begin with. So, looking at repairs is also a way to save money. It is a really great insight.
Another thing that I wanted to talk about is your timeline as far as repairs go; you mentioned that for those thru-hikers, you kind of turned around really quickly, which makes sense because they're in town for such a short period of time but what would the turnaround time look like for a regular customer?
RUDY: It's going to vary by the nature of the repair, Meg. So you know, that was a repair that we actually had the equipment, the special tools we need to do to manipulate the zipper and get it out and replace it, you know, and replace, I think I can't remember exactly what we had to do there, but I just remember we needed a special tool which we have. There's a woman in our shop who specializes in this. So I'll call it if you come in with a level one repair, we can turn it around, you know, fairly quickly, like just say in a couple of days or if it's really urgent we might be able to do it that day um and then she at her for lack better term home Workshop has like you know even better or wider array of tools is maybe a way of saying it so sometimes it's going to take us you know to really repair something at a top-notch way you know a week or ten days.
The good news is what a lot of people now have done is they come in at the end of the season with whatever gear they have, and then they'll give it to us, and they'll say, look, you know, if you get it through me two months from now that's fine. Right? If you ever give us a ski jacket in late March, they don't need it again in New England until, you know, November, um, and so we have more lead time. So we try to work with our customers.
It's disruptive to our manufacturing process, meaning, you know, each repair is kind of like its own job, so what we try to do is we try to do a lot of them at once, but again, that's all message to the customer, and if you have an urgent need then we try to turn it around faster. It depends on customer demand and what we have going on. This long-winded way of saying if you bring in a relatively straightforward repair, Meg, we should be able to get it turned around for you, and you know, a couple of days to a week unless you're a thru-hiker, then we'll do a better job. And then, if it's a more complicated repair, it might take a couple of weeks just given that we need to access a different set of tools and devices to make sure that's a top-notch repair.
MEG: It seems really, really fast to me, but if you're doing it in batches, that makes a lot of sense. And I'm not sure if we mentioned this, you may have in your introduction of Burgeon Outdoor, but something that not all apparel companies in the outdoor space would necessarily have access to is where you make the clothes on-site. So, where you sell and make the clothes is in the same place, and I think that ties into your accessibility to repairs with the customers.
RUDY: It's a huge advantage. All the technical know-how is sitting in that room, um, and what we can do is if you bring in a repair, we can give you an idea from looking at it, you know, about how long it's going to take, so, i.e., what it's going to cost um and number two is what's the time frame going to be able to do that. That is a great thing; some companies offer repair services, um, and I don't know if you've ever heard of a company called FXR Racing. They do a lot of snowmobile suits. You know, I don't know what our official title was, but we did their corporate repairs that was a business for us, um, you know, if you're a snowmobile person in the Northeast United States and you had an FXR suit that needed something repaired um the dealer would send it to us, and then we would turn around and send it back to them. So you know it does happen in a world like that. You've got to get it to a dealer. They've got to ship it to us. We've got to get it, and we have to make sure we understand what needs to be done. We have to do the work, and we have to ship it back to the dealer, who has to give it back to the customer.
So, to your point, Meg, even if we turn that repair around within a week, you can easily see how it might take a month by the time everything gets shipped around, which has its own, you know, sustainability impact. So it's really nice when it comes right into our shop because we can give you a really good idea of what's going to need to happen, and the expertise is there, and it also is a much more efficient process.
MEG: yeah, and I think that it makes sense to accept those really big shipments of repairs like you're saying from that snowmobile company, but would people be able to mail things to you to get fixed, or is that strictly something you would only repair if it was a Burgeon Outdoor apparel piece?
RUDY: we would entertain doing repairs for others. What I don't want to get into the world is over-promising what's going to happen when you send it to us. Um, because if we haven't talked about it or know what's coming, I can't say oh, it's going to take a week or ten days, and it's going to cost you X. Right? We don't really know until we actually look at the garment for those things. Part of that is just because when somebody says I have, for instance, a tear in my jacket, um, you know, is it one inch long? Is it six inches long? Is it near a seam? Did it cut a seam in half? You know, there's just a lot of different details that will impact what work we have done. Um, so we do. We have had people send repairs in by mail, and we will continue to do that. We would caution everybody to make sure you kind of speak to us on the phone so that we can, you know, get an idea and can communicate with you about what the process is going to look like so you're, you know so that we can manage your expectations properly.
MEG: yeah, that makes a lot of sense, um, to have that conversation and to have a better understanding of what exactly needs to be repaired, but that is something that is really interesting, um, as far as being able to maybe use companies like yours or even just yours especially if you're in New Hampshire as a resource to repair gear because I know that it's really easy to mess up gear if you're not necessarily used to sewing or used to working in the textile space. It can make things worse down the lines if you have no idea what you're doing.
RUDY: we've done some of those repairs as well, um, so they're kind of interesting. We always applaud everyone's effort, um, and usually they're not too bad, so yeah, you can make it a little worse, but the good news is that you know, as long as we have a clearly identified scope and things like that we can usually get it done. As long as you're flexible, you know, for instance, like on jackets, you know, we don't have nylon in stock of every color that your jacket might be, so yeah, it's going to be a patch or something, um but you know with a little bit of flexibility there we can definitely get you I can't remember the number you use we can get you an extra nine months out of whatever we repair hopefully we can get you several years out of whatever we repair because we try to send it out and make sure our work is just as good as the day that thing came out of the original factory.
MEG: so, in terms of repair in the outdoor industry, sometimes we hyper-focus on the afterlife of a product, and that's what we're doing with repairing. We are trying to extend that consumption period, so we don't quite yet reach a product's afterlife. I know that we've talked about this before that in the textile industry, there's a lot of waste before the product is even made, so just getting the fabric together to be sent to the manufacturer to make those different articles of clothing, there's a lot of waste that leads up to that. That is something that Burgeon does a great job addressing in their production model.
RUDY: yeah, thank you, Meg. We do try to do that. There is a lot of waste in manufacturing. You know, for those who are listening who might not understand, you know, how apparel gets made without trying to be too pandemic, but you know, we get fabric, and we might have, you know, I'm making it up, but a hundred yards of fabric on a roll. That roll might be, I don't know, you know, let's say, you know, five feet wide, so you know, a big swath of fabric, um, and you know, when you first of all, one is that you know, people cancel orders, um fabrics get dipped in dyes to make sure they're the right color sometimes that process gets messed up. So your red doesn't come out red; it comes out, I don't know, orange-red or something, and people will say no, I don't want that, so that material turns into what we call deadstock. We use deadstock all the time. One is because we're a small, growing manufacturer, lead times are really long, and it allows us to get products out in the marketplace quickly. It also removes this waste from the system. So it's one less thing that we were going to order. We'll take this other color and a product that we already like, so that's one way to help get some waste out of the system, so it's, you know, one less spin of the yarn, one less truckload, you know, all the things that you're talking about trying to reduce impact.
The other thing is that when you cut that fabric, all these little pieces of waste come out of it. So, for instance, if I have a hundred yards of fabric, I'm going to make this up, but you know, I get one T-shirt per yard, but each yard of that fabric is not everything that goes into the T-shirt there are little scraps here and there because you can't line up all the pieces exactly. The textile industry has made a lot of growth in this area. The advent of laser cutters and things like that have helped, you know, cut that waste down, but there's still waste, and so we also use that waste, you know, we have an outdoor scrunchie project where we use all these little scraps of material to make um you know outdoor scrunchies. Every one of them is different so if you look at one on our website that's not what you're going to get, but, um, you know we do that because that's a great way to, you know, reduce waste or maybe, you know repurpose waste into a product that people like and so there's a lot of things we do at Burgeon whether it's the purchasing of that dead stock whether it's you know using some of our waste to make products you know we take little corners that we get. We make hats out of them and things like that, so we're constantly trying to find these pieces of, you know, quote-unquote scrap and seeing what can we do with it.
And you know we'll continue to do that. It's a great way to, you know, live our sustainability mantra. It's also, you know, it's a great way to keep yourself um you know for like a better term, a little funky, right, you know, your products, you know, some things they're a little different, and the colors might be a little off but that's okay that's who we are that's what we stand for that's what we believe in doing um. So we'll continue to do those things.
MEG: that would add a touch of uniqueness, yes, unless, I guess, like, make it a less standard product across the line, whereas if it's the same product, you could fluctuate in colors coming in and out of stock, which is fun.
I did have a question about the dead stock and those little bits of fabric that get cut off. If someone like you isn't necessarily buying those waste materials, what actually happens to them?
RUDY: well, I don't dispose of them, so I'm not a hundred percent sure, but usually what happens is it's, you know, they're not wine, right? The fabric doesn't get better with age. So what I typically see, as a person who buys them, is what I'm telling you I see. I don't know about the wholesalers who hold it all, but what will happen is after the fabric reads a certain age, it's considered to be scrap, and then at some point in time, it just gets thrown away. The other thing about it is that its economic value goes down. So, for instance, if I have an extra run of fabric that I just got from the factory, um, there's some period where I can still sell it as first quality. Then it's going to deteriorate the second quality, then it's going to deteriorate to scrap or as is quality or something, and then eventually it'll get thrown out.
So some percentage of it gets thrown out, some percentage of it is going to go to, I would argue, manufacturers who might care as much about using all of the material because they're getting it at such a cheap price, so they're going to, you know, kind of look at it differently. We try to just really use that product. One is to eliminate it from, you know, just being thrown away, but number two is we can still use it in a highly efficient manner and try and get its highest and best use out of those products, so that's important to us. In short, we're trying to save it from the landfill, and we're trying to save it from being excessive scrap, um, you know, that then ends up in the landfill.
MEG: yeah, and something that I appreciate from really any outdoor company, but especially talking to you, is your willingness towards transparency. I think a lot of time as a consumer, there are many things that go on behind the scenes that you just don't ever think about or wouldn't be aware of and you don't know are issues in textiles especially. So, more companies that are being transparent, I think, helps give a clearer picture to the people that are buying that equipment or that clothing in the first place.
RUDY: yeah, I mean, it's one of the Hallmarks of our brand; just to be clear, we believe in transparency, and I think nothing says it more, Meg, I know you haven't seen our studio, but if you come in and we're surrounded by glass um you know our studio where we make our clothes basically half the walls are glass and windows are on the other side then there's some storage room and stuff like that, but you can actually see what's happening you know if you walk in to purchase a product from us you can look right onto you know quote unquote the factory floor um so you can see what we're doing you can see how we do it. Sometimes it's a little messy it's not exactly the Apple store but that's okay because we're not Apple. We're a brand that's trying to make sure you can have a lot of faith in what we're doing that you can see it, you can touch it, you know, you can smell it, and not only that, you can meet the people who make your clothes. If you bring in a repair, you're going to meet Marlese, who's going to be the one who most likely does that repair. So you're going to meet the people making an impact in your life, and that's what it'll us to make an impact in our community.
MEG: yeah, I haven't been there to actually see it, but if I'm ever in the Lincoln area, I'll have to stop in because it sounds like a really interesting experience to be able to see that entire production from, like you're shopping for the clothes and then you can actually see the clothes being made and repaired it's really interesting to me. And it's not necessarily anything I have seen or heard of before, so that piques my interest more. In that vein, are there other companies that don't necessarily have to be within the outdoor industry but other companies that follow a similar model to yours?
RUDY: I cannot think of one, um, off the top of my head except, you know, if you go like into the restaurant industry where you know you can sit at quote unquote a kitchen table so you can see what happens in the kitchen, you know, um at some restaurants um I haven't seen that recently obviously with covid those cases they're probably all closed right now. But there are not too many places. You know the car dealer doesn't let you into the back shop when they're working on your car so you can see everything that happens. Right? Usually, those things are kept private, um, and you know, we make them public, um, you know, for a couple of reasons. One is people want to see it, um, but number two is, you know, it really makes us, you know, it makes us live our Credo. Right? We are only going to do things that we're proud of doing, and we're going to have them in full sight, um, and you know it's just one of those things in your back your head yeah when people come by they're going to see exactly what we're doing and you know we want to be darn proud of what they see.
I think that's something that, you know, we just continually do, and you know, I don't see it in other Industries, but I hope I do going forward. I think it's a great business model. I think it creates a unique bond with your customers. I think people really appreciate it. We have little kids come into our studio, and they are enthralled. They see the machines and stuff being made and want to know more about it. I mean, kids, as we all know, are, you know, naturally curious. Their parents love it. It's, you know, I don't know what it is. It's like show and tell on a grand scale or something, but it makes for an experience, and it's an experience unlike any other. And for us as a young brand that has been incredibly valuable; that's not why we did it. It's a neat benefit because when you enter our store, you will have an experience you have not had elsewhere. By the way, if you come back a week later, it will be different because we're going to be making something different on the floor. You're going to see somebody putting, you know, one product has sold out that you saw last week. There's a new one that's getting put on the racks because that's what we just finished making. So it makes it a fun place to be, it makes it a fun place to work, it bonds our team together and shared purpose and mission. I can't speak enough about how a lot of these things that you know, at least I haven't seen elsewhere, have really pulled our team together.
You know it's our competitive advantage. You will not see, um, you know what we're doing at Burgeon at other places, but that's why you come to Burgeon, and that's why you buy our products because you can see, believe, feel, hear, smell, Etc um what you're buying you know the people you're supporting you can see the mission in action um and you know you're just getting all those points of reinforcement. It's a great story for us, and our customers love it, so you know we love it when they come in, so we hope to see you there soon.
MEG: yeah, it sounds like a pretty amazing experience to see all of that, and I could see kids buying into it. They don't get that type of exposure to how things are made, so seeing it in front of you would probably be exciting for them but also for me, even though I'm not a child. You mentioned that you haven't seen it anywhere before, especially not in the outdoor industry, and that's what really makes you guys unique, um, but would you like to see it more?
RUDY: I would. When you look at the outdoor industry, I can answer this on two levels. If you look at the outdoor industry, you know what you know, and I don't know your story, Meg, or whatever, like I know mine right, but the connection to place into nature drives my love of the outdoors. Right? I have a connection. Part of that is on a higher level, you know, metaphysical or something. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, you know, like, I know these trails. I know these mountains, even the ones I haven't been on, I've been on the other side of or something, and you feel a real connection to place, and you feel like you know these places are worth you know won the all that they Inspire but to our love to preserve and sustain and enhance them. That's the connection.
We look for that connection as people naturally because we're social beings and want to believe in things. Right? We want to believe, you know, in our friends, you know, the Friendship we have with our friends. We want to believe in, you know, the love we have in our families. We want to commune with our outdoors or our shared sense of appreciation for art or music or culture or whatever it is. I want to see it because I want to believe it, and it enhances the experience. It makes for a much deeper experience, which is what life's all about. Right? It's a lot less transactional. It's a lot more mission-focused, and at the end of the day, that's what drives people in the outdoor space together.
You know, there's a different type of, you know, there's it's we're looking for something slightly different, you know we're not looking for mass consumerism, you know, we understand that that exists. Still, we're looking for those moments of peace and serenity that, you know, take a little harder to get to, um, and that's why what Burgeon's doing is really important. It's one of the reasons I founded the company. I believe in these connections. I also think it's what we, as people, want. We want to be connected to things that we think are important. We want to know them, we want to understand them, we want to appreciate them, and we want to live them, and that's what we're trying to do.
MEG: yeah, that's pretty amazing. I mean, you always hear of, um, a brand's mission or something like that, um, and I guess they're why, so a lot of companies start with their why, um, but you don't always necessarily get to see that, and so to be able to actually see the mission being played out in action in real-time um kind of definitely changes the connection that any consumer would have to any item. It's the same thing if you go to the farmer's market and have a relationship with a farmer instead of just going to the grocer and picking up. I don't know, tomatoes and apples from who knows where.
RUDY: Absolutely, yeah, everybody wants to talk about their why, and your why is important, but equally as important as you know is how. Right? How do you do these things? Right? We know why you do them, but how do you do them? What values are important to you? Right? You know you can have a mission and a vision, but what are your values? Do you live your values, and do you really try to put them forward in everything that you do?
Knowing that none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, do you really try to put those values and permeate them throughout everything your company does? At Burgeon, we've been fortunate enough to do that fairly well, and then I think, at the end of the day, that's really what makes us different. That is who we are, um, you know, that's why we exist, who we are, and how we do it, and that process is as important as anything else.
MEG: yeah, and I think the only company or larger company, I guess, in the outdoor industry that I can think of that would have somewhat comparable processes to yours would, I guess, maybe be Patagonia, but it would not be in the same way, and it's on a different scale.
RUDY: no, I think that's a pretty good, you know, point or reference, whatever term you want to use. Patagonia has done a number of great things for the outdoor industry and the broader industry in general. Um, we need people like Patagonia. When Patagonia says um, we're, you know, only going to use organic cotton, I can't remember what they said, right? We're only going to use organic cotton in some years, and maybe that Year's past us now, I don't remember, but you know, whatever you know, people jump because they want to get Patagonia's business. I can come out tomorrow and say Burgeon will only use organic cotton, and no one will care. Right? So we need people like Patagonia. You know we need to ride on that wave so that we can make sustainable products. But to your point or as you alluded to, you know, what makes us different than Patagonia is, you know, we're focused on the local area where we are, um, I'm not trying to say Patagonia doesn't have local focus, but that's just all we are. Right?
Patagonia is a big company. They got a lot going on. They're doing a lot of wonderful things and I support them, you know, you know, with what they're doing. But what we're trying to do is have an impact on our small community. We're trying to drive our workforce. We're trying to drive that relationship with our customers and our love of the outdoors. And to your point we're just doing it in a different way um and that's okay right you know you can't you know everybody's got to you know put out there um how they think about doing things and you know why they think things are important and how they do them and so we're going to continue to do our thing and you know we'll be rooting for Patagonia under our breath I guess you could say um and hopefully they're rooting for us um even though we're you know competitors but in a lot of ways we're not I think that we're more more collaborators than competitors even though we you know I don't think anyone at Patagonia would return my phone call um but you know we're we're kind of after the same thing with slightly different endpoints but it's a love of the outdoors it's a belief that there are a lot of things that have to happen in order for us to preserve this experience so that not only we can enjoy it but the generation behind us can enjoy it and you know 10 Generations after that and we're both working towards that same goal just in a slightly different way.
MEG: that reminds me of this quote by Jane Goodall, and I probably say it too often, but it is "Think globally but act locally." I think a lot of times when I don't know if you're starting a company or if you work in business or anything like that. It's tempting to kind of think really big and then try to buy into the global market because that is what we're taught that is what you're supposed to do, but to hone in on your local community has been more of a push as far as environmentalism and sustainability goes is to kind of like build that foundation where you're at. Then it can cause Ripple effects outside of you, but you don't necessarily need to be the one that is implementing those structures all over the world.
RUDY: I would agree with that. Um, the other thing that I would say is that you know, I think in business, it's always really important, um, you know, and whether it's business or you're non-profit, just, I mean, just in your own personal life, right, where do you slash like in this case where does Burgeon really have the ability um to make an impact? Right? And really make a difference? Right? How are you going to do that? And how can you do it in a way where you believe you're in a situation where you have a fair amount of control? I realize control is an elusive thing in life, but there are only certain factors we can control. I, at Burgeon, if we put a hundred percent of our resources into suing the federal government over Bears Ears like Patagonia did, we would have gotten nowhere. We couldn't have paid the legal bills in the first three months. Patagonia probably paid their legal team to do it. That's not our place. That's a great place for Patagonia to be because they can do that, and I thank them for doing that.
What we can do is we can create an incredibly dynamic experience for our consumers, our employees, and our community. Then that gets permeated out into our environment, and then we can have an impact on our environment right there in the White Mountains. So, as you said, you know, think globally, act locally. You know what we can control is we can control our production, we can control our team, we can control the non-profits we donate to, we can contribute, we can control where we donate our time on a personal level. Those are the factors right now for Burgeon that we can really control and where we can have impact. So that's where we're focused. I would love ten years from now to be in Patagonia's shoes and be thinking about, okay, how can I do way more than what I'm doing right now and have an impact on a global scale. It's just not where we are. So, we will focus on the things we can control now. We're going to focus on the impact we can make now, and we're going to try and make sure that whatever effort we're putting forth, we're getting the most quote-unquote bang for our buck out of it. And if we do that, we will be a success. You know, that's my job as a Founder, that's my job, you know, in running the company, let's make sure we are putting forth the energy where we are going to have the most positive impact for our environment for our people and for our communities that's our job well, I should say that's my job.
MEG: that's a really impactful and beautiful message, I guess, for other small business owners or any up-and-coming industry leader, I would say. That to hone in and focus on, like where you're needed and where you can have that greatest impact. It will be interesting to follow along and see how Burgeon Outdoor grows, changes, and influences other people in the outdoor industry.
So with that, Rudy, how can people find you, and where can they follow along with the Burgeon Outdoor message?
RUDY: sure,. Well, as you mentioned, our website is burgeonoutdoor.com, so you can always head there and check out what we're doing. Whether it be product, you can check out our blog to see the impact we're having in our community and what we're doing in the White Mountains. You can follow us on social media. All of our social media is @burgeonoutdoor. That's like our hashtag, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Etc. So you can follow follow us there.
But more importantly than that, I encourage you to come in and actually see what we're doing. So, if you're ever in Lincoln, New Hampshire, or anywhere close by, please stop by and see us. You're going to see something you haven't seen before. I think it will be very rewarding, and I think you're going to walk away saying you know this is a neat little thing that I just learned, or This is a neat little company that I just visited, and boy do I wish there were more of them like that because this was a lot of fun great people great experience great products.
MEG: that's great, and I will be sharing all that information in the episode description, so if you didn't catch all of that, don't worry. You can check it out down there. Thank you for taking your time today and jumping onto the podcast to discuss these ideas with me.
RUDY: Meg, you're welcome. Thanks for, um, having us on the podcast. I was honored to be here and enjoyed our conversation, and I'm just very grateful that you picked us out to be on the show. So thank you very much.
MEG: I want to thank Rudy and Burgeon Outdoors again for being willing to discuss topics like this on the outdoor minimalist podcast, and thank you for listening.
If you like what you hear, let me know. Leave a review and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. You can now find me on Instagram @outdoor.minimalist.book. Follow there for daily updates, other educational resources, and to help build an outdoor community with a shared goal to create a better outdoor space as they recreate.