Outdoor Voices on Growth, Culture, and the Employee Experience
Jason Bacaj | 3 min read
Outdoor Voices communicates its brand through group shots of women having too much fun to feel self-conscious, rather than women in the midst of individual competition, as Nora Caplan-Bricker wrote in Outside magazine. People responded to the message: OV has had triple-digit growth every year since its founding. The simple fun of OV’s tagline #DoingThings resonates because it’s not just something the company says, it’s what they live.
We wanted to learn a little more about the OV employee experience, and what the #DoingThings culture looks like in action. So, we reached out to Kailey Gursoy, Retail Training & Development Manager with Outdoor Voices. Check out the full Q&A:
WISETAIL: Outdoor Voices is all about approaching activity with ease, moderation, humor, and delight. How does this shape the employee experience at OV?
KAILEY GURSOY: It starts with us. We’re all on a team, and we can’t expect our community to follow and adhere to these values if we aren’t leading by example. We have a lot of moments that allow us to change the chemistry at the office… whether it be a game of knockout or meditation sessions, we’re moving our bodies and having fun!
You’re growing at a pretty incredible rate — how do you maintain a tight culture and a community of Recreationalists as you grow?
We have monthly meetings called The Smile and weekly stand ups where Team OV speaks up on things that are working and things that aren’t. We follow an operating principle of human not superhuman, and are super protective of the culture we’ve built that emphasizes inclusivity.
Read more about how Outdoor Voices is defying conventional wisdom.
There’s a bunch of young, scrappy talent at OV — how are you helping develop and nurture their career growth?
Since we’ve on-boarded the Rec Center, we’ve been able to create a remote platform for training. This allows us to make strides in our team’s day-to-day efficiency and performance, no matter where they are based. The Rec Center also provides real-time updates about exciting launches, initiatives, and wins so that communication exists at every level and our team feels empowered to communicate directly with the customer. We have a lot of great talent at our HQ and in the field, and for the latter half of this year we’re focused on spending time with our team of experts to create content and resources that will enable them to share their expertise and personal experiences with our community more widely.
OV has a mix of corporate employees, retail employees, and multiple locations. How are you managing the different training needs of each?
Currently the Rec Center is specific to Retail, however we’re working to include additional customer-facing teams, like Customer Experience and Field Marketing so that we’re amplifying one consistent message company-wide. We’re focusing on in-depth brand and product training, as well as cross-functional work experience to increase understanding and empathy between teams.
What’s your advice to other professionals in your position who are experiencing major growth?
With so many changes happening SO fast, it’s really important to spend time in the field, and working alongside the people who are the end-users of your training/systems. To make effective content, training programs or even business decisions, you have to understand what it’s like to be in your teams’ shoes. Otherwise, you’ll make changes that won’t support their work flow, won’t align with their customer’s feedback, and won’t supply the information they need in order to perform.
What’s next for you and OV?
Even though we’re a digital-first brand, an omni-channel presence has been our strategy since day one. We’ll be opening two new flagships this year, and replacing many of our existing systems as we prepare to scale our field teams.
Where are we likely to find you #DoingThings?
I’m frequently on a plane, traveling to one of our nine shops! For a while, people at HQ in Austin forgot I still worked at OV since my desk is always vacant! Other than travel, I run daily and box a couple times a week. Endorphins are key in helping you deal with busy work weeks.