From the outside looking in to Gear Patrol's WIlliamsburg Pop-Up.

Brooklyn Gets the Gear Patrol Treatment

In December of 2019, Gear Patrol launched its third annual Holiday Pop-Up, and for the first time, we brought this activation outside of Manhattan. Doors opened on December 12 at 122 Bedford Ave in Williamsburg, introducing a curated collection of products from several brands all under the premise of: Gear to Get You There.

Our collaboration bar cart in partnership with Dims.
Passed appetizers at the Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-Up.
A DJ spins records at the Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-Up party.
Gear Patrol x American Trench socks on display at the Holiday Pop-Up.
Gear Patrol's Williamsburg Pop-Up

The collection of brands was both eclectic and unified all at once, with each one bringing unique and high-end gifts from within their various categories. Featured products ranged from an award-winning heated razor by GilletteLabs, to sleek Chelsea boots from R.M. Williams, to stunning wireless headphones by Master & Dynamic. Other brands featured included: Hamilton, Crown & Caliber, cbdMD and Askov Finlayson. Despite most of these products hailing from entirely different industries, it was Gear Patrol’s unique sense of curation that seamlessly blended them into a single consumer narrative.

R.M. William's beautiful leather boots on display at the Pop-Up.
Gear Patrol's Williamsburg pop-up featuring Underwood wine.

Each evening of the pop-up experience was complemented by a gathering of Gear Patrol’s enthusiast audiences. Whether it was hearing classic tunes through a set of Master & Dynamic’s amazing concrete speakers, going deep on grooming with the folks from GilletteLabs or learning how to build a perfect three-watch collection, every night, guests were treated to a distinct experience of pure product immersion. These events made good on Gear Patrol’s promise of stoking product culture by empowering everyone with the right products and the knowledge.

Master & Dynamic's special-edition turntable on display.
Attendees chat and admire Hamilton watches at the Holiday Pop-Up.
The opening of Gear Patrol's Holiday Pop-Up in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

The best part of being in Williamsburg was easily the incredibly warm response from the community. Neighbors who visited the shop frequently comment how grateful they were for our presence there and expressed sadness the moment they heard that we were merely a holiday-based experience. Overall, it was clear that the 2019 Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-Up was fun, educational and brought with it a unique sense of product-infused holiday cheer.

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Backcountry's headquarter features a rusted metal version of its goat logo.

Gear Patrol Client Spotlight: Larissa Bortz and Colleen O'Neill of Backcountry

We recently had the chance to break it down with two team members of one of Gear Patrol’s clients, Backcountry. Larissa Bortz and Colleen O’Neill are marketing managers there, originally hailing from Washington, DC and Wisconsin, respectively. They are the dynamic duo responsible for all performance/paid partnerships at Backcountry. While in the office, they strategize affiliate, influencer and media campaigns and are constantly brainstorming new media opportunities, analyzing data and offering insights to optimize partnerships. Outside the office, they’re both avid snow sports enthusiasts — Colleen is a snowboarder and yoga instructor and Larissa is a skier (and one of Colleen’s yoga students). We caught up with Larissa and Colleen about life at Backcountry, the power of finding quality audiences, as well as their upcoming adventures.

Hi Larissa and Colleen. Thanks for speaking with us and for being such great clients. So to kick things off, I imagine it must be pretty fun and rewarding working at Backcountry. What do you enjoy most about it? 

Hey there! So, the best part about working at Backcountry is how much the company encourages and supports its employees pursuing their passions in the outdoors. Whether it’s lunchtime mountain bike rides or laps at Park City Mountain on a powder day, we genuinely believe that getting outside makes us better people and a better company. Everyone here is an incredible athlete, and we’re always challenging ourselves to try new outdoor activities. We hold monthly team meetings that revolve around mountain biking, skiing and yoga. We truly “walk the walk” and our employees are featured regularly in our marketing campaigns.

We've never worked at a company that is so committed to its culture, and we’re lucky to do it all in Park City, UT. Though we both love Park City, the best part about living in this area is how close we are to Southern Utah. We’re both avid desert dwellers and when there isn’t skiing to be had, you can find us in Moab or Virgin biking, climbing, hiking and camping.

Backcountry's Larissa Bortz skis deep powder.

What trends do you foresee guiding the industry from an innovation point of view over the next few years?

The most eye-opening aspect of working in the outdoor industry is how much this industry cares about the environment and sustainability, seeing as it is our livelihood! Along these lines, it has been really cool and inspiring to not only see tons of leading companies in the industry become super mission-driven in their brands and marketing over the past few years (i.e., Patagonia, Icebreaker, Prana, The North Face, Cotopaxi). Many of these brands have also made sustainability a key part of their product and offering. From worn-wear/recycling programs to fully sustainable materials like organic cotton and sustainable down, everyone is doing it a little bit differently, but the point is that we’re trying. At Backcountry, we love the brands that focus on sustainability and want to help our customers be better able to find ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ products on our site. It’s a long term and important trend we’re bringing to the forefront more and more from a digital point of view.

Meet Backcountry's Gearheads.

Not too long ago, Backcountry released its own line of performance apparel and collaborative equipment. What’s been the most rewarding aspect of evolving the brand from what was strictly a retailer destination into a brand with logos on jackets?

The most rewarding thing is seeing the product come to life with meaningful innovations and designs. We co-develop every product with our Gearheads and they bring some really interesting perspectives and technical features to the table. It’s also been super cool to see all of our hardgoods/gear collaborations come to life, such as our skis with DPS, splitboard with Burton and bouldering crash pad with Metollius. We'll be coming out with even more gear in new categories in 2020, so keep your eyes out!

What are the most important factors when you consider media partnerships? What about Gear Patrol fits those factors the best, and how important is audience quality vs. pure audience size when choosing your media mix?

The most important factors when considering media partnerships for us is honestly the quality of the content and audience. What we really want to see is a highly engaged, highly qualified audience that fits with our brand. And that’s what we see with Gear Patrol.

Backcountry offers a lot of premium and niche outdoor gear that is not always readily available, so media partners whose audience members are interested in the techy details of niche gear and has that purchasing power — no matter what the category — are a great fit for us. Gear Patrol has an amazing ability to feature gear in a really clean, sophisticated, detailed way that resonates with the Backcountry brand really well, so our partnership is a natural fit.

Backcountry's Colleen O'Neill snowboards in deep powder.

Larissa, what’s your next adventure and what’s a piece of your kit that you can’t live without? More importantly, what’s the next critical piece of gear you’re after?

Well, I just got back from an epic trip of backcountry skiing in Hokkaido, Japan. I skied everywhere from classic Niseko to Asahi-Dake and toured everywhere in between. My next small adventure is mountain biking in Squamish, BC over Memorial Day; and my next big adventure won’t be until the end of 2020, but I am planning on doing some epic bike-packing in New Zealand this coming Christmas. The next critical piece of gear that I am after is an Evoc Bike Travel Bag! Delta recently updated their checked baggage policy to allow you to check bikes, similar to the way you check skis/ski bags. Because of this, and the increasing popularity of mountain biking, I think you’ll start to see more and more of these out in the world.

And what about you Colleen?

Next up on my list is a trip to Portugal this summer to road bike, paddleboard and surf. In terms of gear, I can’t live without my Burton Anti-Social Splitboard or my Backcountry Adventure 30L Pack. I’ve had my eyes on a Tepui Ayer Sky Rooftop Tent for quite some time and will hopefully make the investment this summer for my ultimate car camping setup.

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Gear Patrol's collaboration commuter pack in action in New York City.

Gear Patrol and the Power of Cross-Category Collaborations

About a year ago, Gear Patrol launched a notable collaborative product: the Hamilton x Gear Patrol Special Edition Watch. Obviously, the team was both excited and anxious, but — to our delight — the first batch of 50 watches sold out in less than a week and is now on its third small batch release. With that success under our proverbial belts, the Gear Patrol team has spent the past year identifying brands with complementary values: high design, focused quality and purposeful functionality to create new products with a Gear Patrol spin. Hopefully, you’ve seen them all. If not, I’m happy to point you in the direction of cross-category collabs that range from gear to fashion and from home goods to transportation: Topo Designs, Priority Bicycles, Dims. and Knickerbocker.

Gear Patrol's collaboration dive watch with Hamilton.

Behind the scenes, we’ve talked a lot about how these collabs come to life. A couple weeks ago, I asked the GP Founder and CEO, Eric Yang, about our approach. His response:

“Product collaborations aren’t new. There are a lot of great ones out there, but we feel that for a brand like ours that covers products across an array of enthusiast topics, we needed to think harder about who it is we’re trying to reach with our collaborations. We think a lot about form and functionality here (and price). So how can we plus up products from brands we’ve come to love that people can hopefully further integrate into their everyday lives? How can we make them more essential for our audience-turned-customers without losing the original product’s purpose or taste? These are questions we aim to answer with our collaborations.”

Gear Patrol's collaboration Topo Design backpack tote on the subway platform in New York.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the new Topo Designs x Gear Patrol Backpack Tote. It’s a perfect synthesis of everything Eric referenced. Topo Designs makes gear rooted in mountain culture and outdoor living, but with a lens on urban exploring and world travel. We asked Topo’s design team to dig into the archives and refresh an old favorite with enhancements driven by Gear Patrol staffers. (Yes, I am one of those staffers.) The result: an everyday carrier that travels however you need it to travel, whether over your shoulder, on your back, in your hand, or across your body. It’s made in the USA with a unique lightweight laminate material originally developed for sailing (called X-Pac) and is perfect for city dwellers, suburban commuters and people on the go. These collabs aren’t just great for Gear Patrol. There’s also value for our partners. I asked Topo President, Jedd Rose, about how things worked from his perspective:

For Life's Pursuits limited edition t-shirt.

“We’re always excited to work with people who are clearly doing great work. Getting to know our friends at Gear Patrol over the years has been fantastic and we’ve been able to constantly nerd out over our favorite products. There was a specific piece from our archives that kept resurfacing in our conversations so we knew we needed to resurrect it. They know their audience well, and were able to provide insights that elevated the structure and functionality of the product which was our Backpack Tote. At the end of the day we were able to bring a classic to life and have a great marriage of the two companies.”

Here are some recently launched and upcoming co-creations aiming for that same “great marriage” vibe.

Gear Patrol's collaboration bike made with Priority Bikes.

Knickerbocker x Gear Patrol Defender Tee: A heavy duty tee constructed in Portugal from 100% pre-shrunk cotton with double-needle cover stitch and blind stitch sleeves and hem.

Dims. x Gear Patrol Utility Cart: The custom utility cart (based on the Barbican Trolley and developed with California furniture designers Dims.) has almost too many uses to list, serving as an elegant bar cart, a handy side table, or even a sleek workshop caddy.

Priority Bicycles x Gear Patrol Commuter Bike: Launching in the Gear Patrol Store on December 9 2019, this is the ultimate two-wheeled commuter complete with a low-maintenance grease and rust-free Gates Carbon belt drive paired with an internal 7-gear hub.

This is all to say that we love discovering — and making — unique products with great partners, regardless of the category. And we can’t wait to keep the ball rolling in 2020 with our sights locked on high design, focused quality and purposeful functionality.

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The Macllan pouring samples of its Scotch at the Phillips Auction House.

Insights Plus Partnership: Making a Mark with The Macallan

As we sat across the breakfast table from Paul Boutros, the Head of Watches at Phillips auction house, he was nodding and looked pleased. We had just taken him through our proposal for a collaboration between Gear Patrol and Phillips to launch our ninth edition of Gear Patrol Magazine: The Collecting Issue. He immediately recognized an opportunity for Phillips to build value through this idea and replied, “Well, what if we held an exclusive NYC preview for Gear Patrol readers of the watches being featured in our upcoming Geneva auction?”

Wow. Not only did he like our idea, but he took it and made it his own. We immediately agreed and the planning began. Luckily, the team at Gear Patrol was already working on a series of reader activations under the banner of Gear Patrol: In the Field. It was clear that this gathering between Phillips and Gear Patrol would make for a great inaugural event, but what could we do to make it an evening our readers would never forget?

Issue Nine came out even better than expected and party planning was in full swing. We arranged for a Gear Patrol photographer to be on-site to snap wrist-shots, which would be instantly shared with each guest. But we still needed that extra bit of x-factor to tie it all together. Right on cue, our East Coast Sales Director Jason Davis proclaimed, “You know what pairs well with rare watches? How about rare whiskey? I know the NY Marketing Manager at Edrington.”

One reader flips through a copy of the Gear Patrol Magazine.
Gear Patrol's night of whisky and watches at the Phillips Auction House.
Attendees admire watches going up for auction.

Edrington makes some of the world’s best-loved Scotch whiskies, including The Macallan, a luxury single malt whiskey with a legacy of excellence. Headquartered in Scotland, the company and its brands are dedicated to creating premium spirits in socially responsible ways, which results in truly memorable products. Bringing in Edrington would mean breaking new business for Gear Patrol, which would be difficult considering the time constraints we were under. We were just weeks away from the event.

The Gear Patrol team rallied. We learned that Edrington and specifically, The Macallan, were seeking an audience with a certain degree of disposable income, a curiosity around the finer things and an interest in tradition and craft. Leveraging Quantcast, the world’s largest machine learning audience behavior platform, we set out to build a data story to bring our readers to life for The Macallan. Q for Publishers, Quantcast’s product suite for publishers, gives the team here at Gear Patrol the ability to quickly and easily paint the picture of our audience, through both demographic and psychographic lenses. For us, Quantcast is essentially our insight engine.

Using Q for Publishers, we looked at our readers with high levels of discretionary spending, in combination with an affinity for luxury watch purchasing and an interest in spirits. We also learned that New York City had the greatest concentration of readers that fell within that demographic. It was this degree of data and demographic insight that tipped the scales. Edrington signed on and that following week we brought together a bevy of guests from throughout the tri-state area for an evening of rare watches and rare whiskey.

A selection of watch photos from Gear Patrol's pop-up photo booth.
The Macllan pouring samples of its Scotch at the Phillips Auction House.
A selection of the watches going up for auction.

The Edrington team generously brought in some of The Macallan’s deepest cuts, including their Rare Cask and Reflexion, part of their stunning Decanter Series. Commenting on the event, The Macallan’s Marketing Manager Tom Mauriello said, “Here at The Macallan we practice what we preach. We always go out of our way to do things the right way, even if that approach is unconventional to industry standards. Gear Patrol follows the same ethos, and puts together nothing short of the best quality in every one of their productions. The partnership for the sneak peek of the Phillips watch auction was a seamless collaboration to showcase the passion that The Macallan and Gear Patrol have for luxury items. It was an honor to be associated with these beautiful brands as well as the loyal team and subscribers of Gear Patrol.”

In the days following the event, the Edrington team saw a correlation between sales of The Macallan and key areas that matched our geo-targeted invitation list. In their estimation, this correlation could only be attributed to results from our In the Field reader activation with Phillips.

Thanks to the unique insights uncovered with Quantcast, plus the right kind of partnership between publisher, venue and brand, we were able to create an absolutely unforgettable evening. We made a lasting mark on our readers that will stay with them for the foreseeable future. By all accounts we gave them a fresh perspective on Gear Patrol and the luxury watch world, and in many of the attendees’ cases, their first taste of ultra rare whiskey.

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Gear Patrol's commute back designed in partnership with Topo Designs.

Client Spotlight: James Atkin of Topo Designs on Two Things Every Marketer Needs to Be in 2019

For many of you in and around the outdoor industry, you may already know James Atkin. He’s the smart, fun-loving marketer who’s energized brands like Black Diamond and Goal Zero. James is now the Director of Marketing at Topo Designs, the Colorado-based gear and apparel brand. Topo is a current client of Gear Patrol and we caught up with James leading up to the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show next week to get his take on industry trends and how he identifies and leverages organic marketing moments.

What do you enjoy most about working in the outdoor industry? How has it changed? What further changes in the space do you anticipate in 2019?

I love working with the people in the outdoor industry. They care about the environment, sustainability, getting outside, having experiences, innovating around gear and creating a better life for those that enjoy the outdoors. The outdoor industry has definitely increased its voice politically the last few years. It has stood up to poor decisions regarding the environment and more and more brands are becoming vocal. I also see outdoor brands going deeper into lifestyle gear. I'm definitely excited to see more innovation within technical components, but I’m also stoked to see brands develop products that can be more versatile within daily life activities.

Client spotlight of James Atkin, Topo Designs.

What led you to marketing? What do you see as the most vital kinds of moments for marketers to leverage with their audiences heading in 2019?

Marketing has been something I have been doing unknowingly since I was 15 years old. Growing up as a sponsored skateboarder, I was always pushing creativity, influence and other core marketing initiatives like events, content and helping with product development. So when it came time to grow up (although that is a very loose term since I'll always be a Toys "R" Us kid) I naturally gravitated to marketing.

There are two things every marketer needs to be in 2019: You’ve got to be nimble and you’ve got to be real. Most people don't like the feeling of being marketed to – I know I don’t. So to create a relatable marketing moment, you’ve got to be responsive and real to exactly what’s happening in the moment. Do that and I promise people will respect it.

Mark Ruffalo tweets about his Topo Design backpack that he left in a cab.

Speaking of marketing moments, Topo Designs recently had an interesting one that went down physically in NYC, but virtually as well. Would you mind giving us the scoop and sharing how you and your team activated against this moment and what the results were?

Yes! So Mark Ruffalo, AKA The Hulk, has been a fan of Topo for a few years now. He has a beloved Topo Designs Daypack that he left in a cab in NYC accidentally. He decided to pull in the forces of social media to help him track down his pack. He tweeted, Instagrammed and posted to Facebook with a picture of his pack and asked his friends of NYC to help him track it down. We saw it pretty quickly and mobilized our NYC-based Topo fans to help locate his pack. It went bonkers. Within minutes of us posting, it was also retweeted and shared by other celebrities and publications like Slate and The Cut. It turned into a meme pretty quickly as well and the engagement was off the charts. He was reunited with his pack that night. It was funny because there were brands like Uber responding to his tweet offering assistance too.

Our traffic to our website doubled and we actually ended up selling a ton of that very same pack over the next few weeks after he posted. It's a good looking pack but having someone like Mark Ruffalo organically posting about it was pretty awesome for us. He’s become a real and natural ambassador for the brand and thanks to reacting nimbly, he got his bag fast and we gained those valuable organic customers. Like I said, nimble + real works.

Topo Designs started out very much as an enthusiast brand, now it’s clear your gaining more and more mass appeal. What are the benefits of partnering with an enthusiast publication like Gear Patrol when you’re on the verge of breaking through to that mass market?

Well for Topo, although we are gaining traction, we are still pretty small and always need to get in front of more people, especially since our product line is really awesome right now and only getting better. We know we have something unique and inclusive and want to be available to people. Gear Patrol is perfect for us from a readership standpoint; it’s people that want style, quality and versatile gear. We are right there with them and want to invite them to our party. We care about the same things, so it only makes sense to partner up.

James Atkin's must-have products.

What’s next? What do you have planned in 2019 both professionally and personally? Any big trips or adventures? What’s that single piece of gear that you can’t live/leave without?

For Topo, we are looking to do a lot more events, everything from music festivals to outdoor events. We have a very inviting personality as a brand and really want to get out there and talk and experience with people. We’re also looking to expand internationally over the next 2 years, so that is really exciting for us. We have some really amazing brand collaborations coming out this year as well as other products that we’re super stoked on right now. I'll be on the road with Topo a lot this year and I'm really looking forward to it.

For me personally, I'm pretty big on spending time with my wife and 3 little ones, so we get out almost every weekend on micro-adventures. I'm really looking forward to more camping trips and getting the family over to Hawaii to thaw out from the cold Colorado winter. Right now, there are three pieces of my kit that I can’t get enough of right now. The first is my Topo Designs Mountain Jacket. It has the perfect amount of insulation for those below freezing temps out here and all the pockets I need. The next piece of gear that I can't leave behind when I'm traveling is my Travel Bag 40L. It’s seriously the best travel bag I've ever owned and I've gone through my fair share of those. The last thing that I have to take anywhere I go is my Gerber EDC knife. I literally use that sucker 3-5 times a day. Literally.

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A custom VW Westfalia Syncro parked outside the Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-Up.

We Threw a Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-up in NYC and This is What We Learned

Back in mid-December, we had the distinct pleasure and challenge of launching a Holiday Pop-up Shop for Gear Patrol in the beautiful storefront of Snow Peak’s retail location in SoHo. We were joined by some amazing brands including NOMOS Glashütte, Teva, Skullcandy, Outerknown, Fulton & Roark and Velocio. It was a rollercoaster with mostly highs and a couple of curveballs, just to make things interesting. We were extremely pleased with the overall effort and outcome but certainly learned a few lessons along the way we think are worth sharing. Here’s a quick list of insights and learnings gained from throwing a week-long event at the peak of holiday happenings in NYC.

Our Holiday Pop-Up shop in partnership with Snow Peak.

Transactional Factoids

We had 101 different SKUs for sale in the Holiday Pop-up, not to mention Snow Peak’s own gear. The least expensive items sold was a pair of warm socks, while the most expensive item sold was a NOMOS Glashütte watch. And nearly 60% of all transactions were single item purchases.

Showcase vs. Shop

We will likely optimize future pop-up experiences to function and feel more like a product gallery or showcase than a straight up shopping experience. This slight repositioning will allow Gear Patrol to function even more like a curator and endorser of these exceptional products. Of course, everything will still be for sale, but there’s a distinct opportunity to alter the perception to feel more rewarding and less commoditized.

Teva and Nomos gear on display at the Holiday Pop-Up.

Online Duplication + Dropship Option

In addition to Snow Peak customers and fans of Gear Patrol, several of the customers we interacted with were tourists and out-of-towners. It became clear over the course of the week that limiting the pop-up’s inventory to the shop’s physical footprint was not optimized for everyone’s circumstances. In the future, we will be reflecting the showcase in its entirety online with a digital storefront and providing dropship capabilities from the physical space.

Grab-n-Go Gifting

Gifting was far and away the number one purpose customers made their way to the pop-up. They were there to buy something for someone else. And a lot of these consumers were in a bit of a hurry. Quick grab and go, giftable gear was definitely our highest performing type of products sales-wise. One-size-fits-all and unisex products were a hit. Next to gifting, cold weather gear was a distant second in terms of product inquiries.

Attendees enjoy the Gear Patrol Holiday Pop-Up shop at Snow Peak.

Price Points Weren’t an Problem

Even though quick, grab and go items performed the best, it was not due to low price points per se. Never once did we hear someone say something was too expensive. The NYC holiday shopping crowd in the SoHo area was definitely much more about finding that ideal gift, regardless of the price tag.

A Little Storytelling Goes a Long Way

We definitely noticed that products with a standout, innovative feature that was instantly recognizable and digestible seemed to garner the most attention. From a gift-giving point of view, customers certainly wanted to give something that they could show and talk about with the recipient. It was clear they wanted their gift to come with a unique story to tell. I think this particular insight tells us so much about the gift-giver mentality and want really makes a product gift-worthy.

So would we do it again?

Absolutely. And we’ll definitely be taking all these insights into deep consideration. Have questions? Throwing a pop-up of your own? Drop us a note, we’re happy to pass along our knowledge and experience.

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Oxo went through countless handle iterations during the design of its swivel peeler.

Client Spotlight: Kate Gagnon from OXO on Building True Partnerships from Existing Relationships

Kate Gagnon leads the digital marketing strategy at OXO, a New York-based housewares brand. In her day-to-day, she focuses on bringing the OXO brand story to life through social, email, blog content and digital partnerships. Previously, she led the digital team at an agency working with clients in luxury lifestyle, design and architecture. Kate is a recent client of Gear Patrol Studios. We had a chance to catch up with her and get her insights around co-branded partnerships, Instagram lurking and power of sponsored content.

Oxo's Kate Gagnon's client spotlight.

OXO has been an inspiring client to work with, what's it like working there everyday?

I love working at OXO because there’s so much curiosity here. Everyone is trying to find a better way to do something – from product designers innovating around the best way to open a can of beans to someone on the ops team making a spreadsheet that better communicates product launch info across the company. That sort of always-striving-for-better energy is infectious and key to keeping up with digital.

Oxo's pour-over coffee setup is one of the best in the game.

What are the most exciting marketing trends that you’re seeing in the marketplace?

I’m interested in how companies are creating their own inner circles of affiliated people and brands. It’s starting to feel like brands are people in this way – Brand X is friendly with Brand Y. Before social, if you wanted to collaborate with another brand, maybe you’d do some sort of co-merchandised display or even a partnered product collection. But now, everything can happen much faster and more informally. At OXO, we can partner with cookbook authors who are just releasing a book we admire or co-create content with an ingredient company we love. These relationships can be long-lasting and positive for both parties. Plus, it’s exciting to express our brand essence by highlighting partners like this.

What inspires you as a marketer?

I get a lot of inspiration from brands outside of our space – beauty, fashion, CPG. I follow (and unfollow) a lot of brands on Instagram to see what they’re up to. One of my favorites right now is Oatly. From their packaging to out-of-home ads to their hilariously self-aware Instagram feed, they’ve created a super approachable, quirky, lovable brand – for oat milk, of all things! It’s impressive to see so much brand love for something as everyday as milk.

When heading out for work, don't forget your Oxo thermos.

How is OXO distinguishing itself from the competition using content marketing?

Just like how the best influencer partnerships are built on existing relationships between influencers and the brand, the same goes for sponsored content. It’s key to communicate the partnership to readers, but content should always feel like an extension of the already great editorial a team is producing. Above all, we want to make high-quality content that adds value to the conversation. And there’s so much to be gained by having a publisher produce branded content that speaks to their audience in an expected, authentic way. Sponsored content is at its best when it can benefit from the insights gained in editorial and vice versa.

You recently worked with Gear Patrol Studios. What made you choose that route?

Yes! Our experience with Gear Patrol Studios has been excellent. The edit team has covered us in past and we have always been impressed by their beautiful and well-written content across both print and digital. It was a no-brainer for us to partner with GPS to tell a story about OXO Brew leveraging an editorial approach to the content, photography and video, because we knew that it would resonate with their readers and add value.

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Client Spotlight: Alana Krutoyarsky from Montblanc on 3 Ways to Make Your Branded Events Count

Montblanc is a nearly 100-year-old company that started off with a single, iconic writing instrument. Now it's a renowned global brand that through wise and effective evolution can create (and sell out of) a luxury smartwatch in the face of major competition. And events have been a big part of their strategy for success. Alana Krutoyarsky is Montblanc North America's Retail Marketing Manager. Prior to Montblanc, she worked in her family's fine jewelry & antiques business. We connected with Alana after a recent collaboration between Montblanc and Gear Patrol for a launch party for their new Summit 2 Smartwatch to chat about how to make branded events count.

What do you enjoy most about working in NYC and specifically in the luxury goods space?

There is no place like New York when it comes to trendsetting. Working in New York has its advantages. It’s constantly changing and extremely fast-paced. It’s incredible that you can walk down 5th Avenue and pass by the flagships of some of the biggest luxury goods companies in the world. You can look into their constantly changing windows and always keeping a pulse on what’s going on in the industry with so many stores at your fingertips.

A sketch artist draws attendees at the Montblanc smart watch party.

What do you love about events? Where do you see the importance of branded events heading in 2019?

Events are a big part of my role. We are always looking for ways to provide meaningful engagement and this will continue to be the direction we are going in 2019. The beauty of events is that you can actually bring stories to life by providing immersive experiences for customers to engage in, evoking the spirit of the brand and leaving a lasting impression. This is what every marketer hopes to achieve!

A selection of images from our launch party for Montblanc's smartwatch.

If you had to boil it down to just 3 ideas, what would be the main principles you’d encourage marketers to consider when planning a branded event?

1. Focus on experience and content. These are the qualities that leave a lasting impression. The days of just throwing a party don’t seem to cut it anymore. People want to experience something unique to make a connection and actually learn something that they can’t get anywhere else.

2. Be personally relevant. The landscape is growing rapidly and changing faster than ever. Brands are fighting for a fraction of the attention and headspace that's out there. So it’s important to be hyper-relevant and offer attendees that critical feeling that this event is perfectly designed just for them.

3. Collaboration is key! Collaborating with like-minded brands where there is a natural crossover creates an exponential impact on attendees.

You just held a recent event in conjunction with Gear Patrol for the launch of the Summit 2 Smartwatch, what worked? What are the benefits of partnering with an enthusiast publication?

Considering the above, we really took the audience into consideration. Understanding that they are a highly engaged group of individuals who enjoy a more intimate type of experience helped craft a tailored event to fit those needs. An insider Q&A provided great content to the event. Since we were working with more of a tech-savvy crowd, we tried to incorporate an in-store experience that would resonate with the group. So we offered thematic digital sketches to guests, which seemed to be a hit! Of course, having great partners makes all of the difference. Without Gear Patrol, we would not have been able to experience a similar outcome. It’s collaborations like this one that brings events to the next level, allowing exposure to a brand new audience in a meaningful way.

Tech editor Tucker Bowe conducts an interview at the Montblanc launch party.

What’s next? What do you have planned in 2019 both professionally and personally? Any big trips or adventures? What’s that single piece of gear that you can’t live/leave without?

We are constantly looking for ways to create meaningful engagement with customers and will continue to do so in 2019, focusing on key markets and partners! Personally, I look forward to traveling more in the new year. I have a few places in mind. A change of scenery really helps get the creative process going. Next on the agenda… Germany, Cuba and South Africa! I can’t see myself taking any of these trips without my Canon Digital Camera and a good macro and wide angle lens.

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In conversation with Gear Patrol's Joe Tornatzky and Sherry Wang.

Meet the Team: Joe Tornatzky and Sherry Wang Talk Design, Inspiration and the Power of Print

The creative team here at Gear Patrol is expanding and it’s time to meet some of the folks behind the hyper creativity happening across digital and print. We sat down with Art Director Joe Tornatzky and Senior Designer Sherry Wang to talk design, inspiration and the power of print.

Tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your name, role, where’d you most recently come from?

Joe: My name’s Joe Tornatzky, I’m the resident Art Director here at Gear Patrol. I recently moved from California to New York with my wife. In California, I was working at a creative agency that handling several different lifestyle brands. I started my career launching a menswear startup and since then have continued help companies define their go-to-market strategy and elevate their overall design.

Sherry: I'm Sherry, Senior Designer at Gear Patrol. Before joining this team, I did brand and editorial design in-house for Barneys New York, and have previously worked for Starwood Hotels and Conde Nast Traveler. I’m now happy to be involved in building and evolving the visual identity of a company that identifies and advocates for craftsmanship and the intersection of form and function — as opposed to trends.

The Gear Patrol Magazine, Issue 7.

What are the most exciting branding trends that you’re seeing in the marketplace?

Joe: I’m loving how much transparency is in marketing these days. It’s an exciting time to spend your money with brands that show you how and why they make a product. From Instagram Stories to microsites on the web, brands are telling it as it is and that's refreshing.

Sherry: I find it especially exciting that brands are revisiting the value of publication design. It seems like many companies are finding that in the absence of a physical space to entice their audience into becoming customers, the narratives and imagery that come together in a catalog or magazine can be a beautiful way to immerse potential customers in the lifestyle and aesthetics of what they are offering. I think it's safe to say that with everyone being inundated by social media, print collateral has more sentimental value than before. And the more a brand can persuade a person to feel an emotion when they interact with collateral, the longer it will stick in people's memories.

As a nimble design team responsible for work that finds its way online as well as into an award-winning print publication, what’s the best part and the toughest challenge about making that transition from digital to print?

Joe: Trust in your vendors. From printers to developers, having great relationships with your vendors is important in pushing every project to the next level. With the right crew, everyone brings a different perspective that gives the project depth. That lesson was reaffirmed for me yet again with the recent release of Issue 7 of Gear Patrol Magazine.

Sherry: I feel much more in my element designing for print. I almost don't want to admit that because it makes me sound like a dinosaur that no one should hire. But I definitely tend to be able to dive into print projects faster than I do with digital. I suspect I'll get more confident with practice though.

A never before seen Gear Patrol boxcutter.

Where do you find your inspiration/who’s doing it right out there?

Joe: Since moving to New York, I’ve noticed how much branding the city shows off. From the magazine racks, architecture, subway ads and in-store merchandising to old hand-painted signs — at this point, there’s really only room left for amazing branding and design that cuts through it all. In terms of who’s doing it right, here’s my short list: NY Times Magazine, The Adventure Handbook, Taylor Stitch, Yeti, East Fork Pottery, Shake Shack, Filson, Netflix, and of course The Golden State Warriors (their collab with Erik Marinovich is on point).

Sherry: I think just about everything The Sill is doing is pretty great. The visuals feel very cohesive and polished. Lots of places sell plants but they've made the process of choosing and then acquiring one very easy and they've done a good job of convincing people that they are trustworthy.

If you could work on one dream project for Gear Patrol, what would it be?

Joe: I would say every day working at Gear Patrol is a dream, so I’ll mention something that’s been on my mind lately. I would love to design an official Gear Patrol box cutter. The team opens up countless boxes every day full of unique products to review and an amazing well-designed box cutter would be great.

Sherry: As much as I love designing things digitally, I think It would be nice to work on something that takes me away from my computer a bit. I’m very excited for us to make something cool together!

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