Patti Cazzato Q&A: New Timbuk2 CEO has a head start on the industry’s top hurdles

She’s conquered the female consumer at brands like Gap and Levi’s, and was an early B Corp business owner at Clary Sage Organics.
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New Timbuk2 CEO Patti Cazzato already has tackled some of the most topical issues in our industry.

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She’s conquered the female consumer at brands like Gap and Levi’s, and was an early B Corp business owner at Clary Sage Organics.

As outdoor and active styles trend higher in the broader market, Outdoor Retailer quickly is becoming one of the most critical shows in the fashion arena, she told us at Summer Market.

When you started Clary Sage Organics and hopped on the B Corp wagon, what was the toughest thing to get right?
I think compliance was the most difficult element to conquer, making sure that all aspects of the business qualified. Submitting to this certification and the transparency that comes with it really puts your business out there. It was a rigorous initial process, but we felt it was a worthwhile mission for the brand. B Corp certification set us apart from other retailers. I founded the company with a mission to manufacture locally and use only sustainable raw materials, so I wanted to showcase just that. We were making slick, extremely soft materials from recycled water bottles. The entire concept of Clary Sage Organics grew from these local and sustainable roots. Not only does B Corp certification highlight the eco elements, but it also brings light to the product innovation. We were a socially responsible company from top to bottom and B Corp certification allowed us that voice to the customer.

You had success courting female customers at Levi Strauss — what advice do you have for outdoor brands that are struggling in this realm?
At Levi’s, we had to translate how to successfully create coveted women’s clothing from a historically male-dominated brand. This is a challenge for many outdoor and lifestyle companies. First and foremost, get to know “her.” You have to truly understand what your female customer wants and then layer on your brand vision. If you are true to your brand’s roots and offer the female customer the most fashionable version of your brand, she will take notice. And, from my experience, she will make a purchase.

Can you share any of your goals for Timbuk2 for the next one to three years? 
I want to see Timbuk2 as a more powerful, expansive lifestyle brand serving a community of urban, creative and active consumers. We’re working to create more products with more relevance to both genders. I’m also on a mission to expand our customization capabilities to retailers, and to continue to create and develop fresh and innovative lifestyle offerings for people enthusiastic about urban biking culture. It’s pretty phenomenal to know that as we grow our customization offering with our wholesale partners, we are contributing to the growth of U.S. urban manufacturing together.

Timbuk2 was an early adaptor of integrated technology, with products like the Power Commute. What kind of technology are your customers most excited about now?
We are constantly engaging our community to research what our customer wants through focus groups and our extremely strong social media presence. Our community is urban and mobile and we’ve seen a huge need in the market for a better bike commuting gear, especially on-bike. At this show, we’re introducing the company’s patent-pending “Magnaclick” attachment system for the Especial Pannier and Especial Seat Pack. It represents a new territory of technology in the bike category as a whole. We will always be pushing ahead to find the next technologies that improve the urban cycling and commuting experience.

Have you been to Outdoor Retailer before? What do you like about the outdoor market? 
It’s my first OR, but I have heard from industry veterans how amazing this show is to the industry. In addition, with the surge of “activewear for everyone,” I believe more than ever that OR is the most critical show in the outdoor and fashion arenas right now.

What’s one of your favorite ways to get active/outside?
I’m a longtime Lyengar yoga devotee, and am fortunate to have met and regularly practice with Mr. Lyengar himself. I try to practice for two hours a day. Also, I live I San Francisco, less than 10 minutes from the ocean and the mountains, so being outdoors is in my DNA whether it’s a hike up Mount Tam or a run along Ocean Beach. I also have two very active teenage children, so we’re constantly on the move.

--Megan Mulligan

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