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Chaco Footwear — the long-lasting do-everything sandal — is probably best known as a niche brand among hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. That’s how Joshua Weichhand first connected with the product. But it wasn’t until years later after traveling the countryside and visiting our National Parks that he joined the company best known for its Z sandals. Today, Josh is the Director of Marketing for Chaco and he’s trying to build the company into something much bigger. On this episode of Marketing Trends, Josh sits down to discuss how he’s helping take Chaco from a niche brand into the larger lifestyle company it’s become today. Plus he explains how Chaco is embracing unprecedented circumstances in 2020, and why knowing your brand and your story can take you to new heights.

3 Takeaways:

– Chaco initially was just this niche lifestyle brand which over the last few years has evolved into more of a lifestyle brand

– Collaborations are important, but knowing your brand embracing who you are and knowing when it’s appropriate to work with other is key

– Chaco mobilized its factory in the span of a weekend and prototyped and implemented a design to produce masks, producing over 1,500 masks in their first shipment.

Key Quotes:

“This is one of those brands and is that I’ve always had a really strong affinity for. It’s, something I don’t really take for granted. A lot of us have jobs and we’re proud of the work that we do, but I think it’s kind of rare to have an opportunity to work on a brand that you actually really loved before you were ever a part of it.”

“A lot of my job is really just kind of creating an atmosphere and an environment in which they [team members] can succeed. They’re all incredibly talented and so much of my work feels like it’s more about clearing roadblocks so that they can just run freely at the pace at which they need to move.”

“Chacos are sandals, but they’re really more like a signal of the type of person that you are. Anybody can buy a pair of flip flops. It’s something different to say like, ‘Hey, I’m going to drop $100 on a pair of sandals that lasts a really long time, that have these unique tan lines on my feet cause I’ve been wearing them all summer. You can hike in them, you can climb and you can swim, there’s something very unique about that.”

“We’re a 30-year-old heritage outdoor brand that most people would’ve just never even heard of. And I think one of the really exciting things over the last several years has been not just seeing the growth but feeling it and participating in it in real-time.”

“When you marry the fashion side of the equation with the science and psychology behind time spent outdoors, and then you look from a macro lens, maybe look at how we are treating our environment, the politics of the conservation movement and the ebb-and-flow between the push and pull of development versus protecting our wild spaces, our public lands, the outdoor industry becomes extremely relevant. And I think Chaco has in a lot of ways benefited from that.”

“We started having conversations pretty early in March just around the idea of like, okay, if we needed to pivot, if we needed to change what we were doing, how quickly could we and what would that look like? “

“Over the course of a weekend, we figured out an action plan for how we could retrofit our factory from doing sandal production and repair to making face masks. We had sewing machines, we had material available to us, we had needles and thread, we had skilled labor. Most pressingly we had a pretty significant need even in our local community.”

“This is going to be one of those things I look back on for the rest of my life and have a lot of points of pride. I had some heartfelt emotion over, not only just because it feels important and like one of those life-changing moments, but also because I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to the team than I have right now.”

Bio:
Since joining Chaco six years ago, Joshua Weichhand has held just about every position within the marketing department at Chaco. Now as the Director of Marketing, he oversees all the day-to-day aspects of the Marketing department while also handling deployment. A Colorado native and Colorado Christian University graduate, Josh embarked on his marketing career working with brands such as Anthropologie and Hollister. Prior to his time with Chaco, Weichand embraced a seven-month odyssey where he traveled the US countryside, holding positions like fisherman and deckhand, while exploring 16 US National Parks.

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