Why all the talk? – #yourlead
Back in 2014 TETON Sports started somewhat of a pilot program. The idea centered on connecting in a real way with everyone on the trails. We wanted a chance to meetup, share an experience, and adventure together, while also seeing where you love to explore. Seeing all of your Instagram photos and Tweets are great, but how much better would it be to experience where you love to explore first hand?
With that idea in mind, #yourlead was hatched.
The premise was simple: encourage people to use the #yourlead hashtag to connect with us in the social media realm, while also encouraging us here at TETON HQ to head your way for a meetup.
We launched the program as somewhat of a beta or pilot program without a huge expectation in direction or attraction. We were simply trying to test the waters and have fun. Not long after we spent a week touring through Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington (read more about the first trip here). We made a ton of friends and had a great time, and while we planned on doing a follow-up trip elsewhere, the time and planning dragged on longer than we anticipated.
Where the initial idea came from is somewhat foggy at this point, but one thing is for certain, while chatting and brainstorming in our creative nest a simple idea was proposed: building a van to live and travel in. Instantly the idea grew legs and walked all over us. It was a powerfully exciting idea that consumed our thoughts and desires as a creative department within the company. Within a few days we had covered our whiteboards with drawings and notes, results of whirlwinds of thoughts and sharing.
Soon an actual plan started to emerge, a plan that seemed almost silly and certainly farfetched. We would purchase a van, build it out for our Mountain Adventurers and Explorers to live in, two people at a time. They would travel around the United States sharing the stoke, hosting meetups and trying to have the most rad #vanlife experience possible without actually having to commit on their own to a real #vanlife.
Our ambassadors would be able to resurrect the #yourlead goal and mission in a way we had never thought of or imagined initially. They would be able to reach everyone that we couldn’t, and share our stoke and passion for life and the outdoors first hand. Admittedly, however, despite the idea being awesome, we worried it was a bit too far fetched to actually get off the ground.
A Random Afternoon
On a random afternoon in late 2015 (the actual date is lost in history) we decided to pitch the idea straight from the hip with nothing prepared. A couple of us just launched into it, describing our thoughts, mission and goals for a van to the owner of TETON Sports, Scott. After we finished our excited and impromptu pitch, that would no doubt have made the investors on Shark Tank send us packing within the first 30 seconds, Scott simply said, “I like it. I’m 90% there. Work out a few more details and let’s talk again.”
Within a couple of weeks, we had a second similar conversation with Scott where he gave us the go-ahead. What we initially thought to be a crazy pipe dream began to gel together into the start of a real #yourlead adventure van experience.
The Van, The Build, The Launch: #yourlead comes to life
We began right away with researching and test driving vans, planning routes and sorting out details. We reached out and talked with our ambassadors trying our best to build timelines and opportunities for everyone to live their own dirtbag dream, sponsored and paid for by TETON Sports.
Pretty soon we had a Ford Transit on order and a rough outline of what the trip would look like on a map (click here for details and to view the map). Just a few weeks ago the van arrived, the build began, and the digital launch occurred at the end of our weekly Twitter chat, #hikerchat. The response was overwhelming despite not having even started the official build and admittedly still being a few months from the hard launch. It got us us pretty amped up to get moving and start building.
Now, just a couple of weeks later, the build is coming along. It’s not a quick process, as we have committed to personally building the van and it is definitely becoming a labor of love. To keep you up to date on the build we will be posting regularly on the #yourlead van Instagram and Twitter. We will also be posting weekly updates with more in-depth information on the actual build, so keep an eye out for new content coming your way each Thursday.
But Why a Van and What is the Point?
Valid questions, for sure. We really wanted a way to connect with outdoor enthusiasts in every location in a face-to-face way. We wanted to take a more active role in what we feel is a pretty awesome movement towards simplifying of life and the pursuit of experiences over possessions. So, in an effort to meet both of those desires a van seemed like the best and most logical choice: it’s hard to get more simplistic than living out of a van, and it surely would prompt adventure seeking over possession accumulation.
A third goals for the #vanlife project is to give back while connecting with people around the states. To make that happen, our ambassadors will be dropping by Sportsmans Warehouse stores all over the United States. These stops will act as hub locations and jumping off points to meetup, chat, trade out gear/give back and make some plans to hit a local trail or two.
Did You Say Give Back?
Yes indeed! One of our big side-missions is to give back in a very real way. To make that happen we have partnered with Gear Forward to collect donations which they will receive and distribute. So, when you come and see us in the #yourlead van bring along a backpack that can still be reused. We will trade you your old pack for a new TETON Sports pack, and will forward all donations to Gear Forward. From there Gear Forward will take the donations and find homes for your donated pack with a deserving individual. The goal here is a win, win, win: you get to help out with a donation (it feels good, doesn’t it?) and you get a new pack, Gear Forward is able to reach more individuals who need gear, and we get to give you a new pack (it feels good for us to give too) and we get to take part in helping Gear Forward’s mission (double feel good for us).