Welcome back for episode 14! If this is your first time here we recommend hitting the rewind button and exploring some of our previous episodes. Especially Episode 1: The Beginning of a Brand where Corey and Sean shoot the shit and give you a little glimpse into the people, places, and inspiration behind the BOTE brand.
In this episode, Corey and Sean sit down to reflect on the past few months. In particular, how COVID 19 and the lockdown have affected them personally, the impact it has had on the business at BOTE, and the ripple effect that they have seen across the entire outdoor industry through first-hand accounts and stories shared with them from friends in the industry.
In short, the outdoor industry seems to be thriving. With the absence of sports, limitations on travel, gyms across the country shutting down, and once the majority of the population ran through the entire Netflix catalog, folks across the country began to take to the great outdoors. From biking to fishing and everything in between, the general consensus across the outdoor industry is that there is a renaissance taking place.
Tune in to hear Corey and Sean’s hot takes on the current state of the industry and get a firsthand perspective on how the BOTE team has kept up with the growing demand over the past few months.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
The thing that has been unique for us is we’ve seen an unprecidented amount of demand and growth. For people, for customers, for our products in general.
- Corey Cooper
From the middle of nowhere to the center of everywhere, Sean and Corey are back at it again for another amped-up episode of the Beneath the Surface podcast.
00:02:31 The Outdoor Resurgence
As COVID 19 has taken a toll on many of the everyday luxuries of modern social life, it has also inspired somewhat of an outdoor renaissance. Thanks to internal conversations at the BOTE HQ, Corey and Sean prepare to dive headfirst into what they’ve deemed the “outdoor resurgence.”
“We had some inspiration from people internally that wanted us to talk about what we’re calling the outdoor resurgence or the renaissance for people wanting to get outside and do things again… The thing that’s been unique for us is that we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of demand and growth from customers for our products in general and in adjacent industries… all these guys are having record seasons for people getting outside again” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
00:03:31 The outdoors haven’t changed
Corey and Sean wrestle with the question: what about this lockdown has made people want to get back outside more?
“The outdoors haven’t changed, they've always been there.” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
00:03:53 Back to the basics
Sean reflects on his own experience about the early days of the lockdown and how, at first, he thought it might be a nice opportunity to slow down and enjoy a little downtime. Maybe even catch up on some sleep.
“Maybe we could have some downtime for a month and just catch up and that gets old real quick, I think… I don’t know what it is, man. I just feel like people want to, you know, get back to the basics.” – Sean Murphy / BOTE Director of Photography
00:04:26 Something is coming...
Around the middle of March, the tide begins to change for most people across the country. Places start to shut down, traffic begins to dwindle, and around this time the BOTE team goes remote. Luckily in the South, the weather conditions were favorable and the public space closures were limited compared to other parts of the country.
“We’re lucky we lived in the South where the weather, at the time, was nice… so being able to get outside was an option; whereas, others in the Midwest and Northeast, and even the West Coast. Like our friends in Chicago that were telling us stories of being locked inside so as soon as they were able to get outside that’s what they were doing--going for runs, biking, and hiking.” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
00:05:19 Bottleneck for the outdoor space
With the lack of travel, professional and youth sports, school, and everything else that the lockdown imposed on communities across the country, people were limited to how they could spend their time. So with nothing else to do Sean and Corey acknowledge that this drove demand up for outdoor activities.
“You can’t go to the movies, you can’t go to the bars, but you can go on a boat and go out to Crab Island. You know what I mean? All of these things which you couldn’t do really made a bottleneck for the outdoor space. Because everyone can get on a paddleboard or go surfing” - Sean Murphy / BOTE Director of Photography
00:06:51 Uncertain Times
As the lockdown continued, Corey was uncertain what the future would hold for his business. In the first few weeks, business slowed down drastically for the brand. But as time drew on the BOTE team would see unprecedented growth.
“On the business side of things this is where we’ve been fortunate is the fact that it has absolutely exploded, but in the same, it has somewhat caught us off guard.” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
“We were uncertain and I remember getting the call from you and you were very nervous. What’s the future gonna hold? You were worried about your employees, you were worried about being able to support your people… and it was actually the opposite that ended up happening.” - Sean Murphy / BOTE Director of Photography
00:08:31 All hands on deck
At the start of the lockdown, the BOTE business was down to nearly zero. Fast forward to early April and the team could hardly keep up with the demand. The team pulled together, not only carrying their own weight but what felt the work of twenty extra people.
00:09:26 Scaling the business
“We plan to scale the business every year. We put in our annual goals and plans and essentially we build production, we build our business model, scale the internal infrastructure to meet what we anticipate as demand… I’ve been doing this for 10 years and we’ve had all different sorts of seasons. Seasons where we exceed sales goals and seasons where we don’t meet goals… but this season we had high aspirations of scaling our business and growing, but the amount of inbound that we received took all of our aspirations and said that’s all you got? What are you doing? Take this. BAM!” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
“I have a lot of favorite things about BOTE, but just the core team and how people just do whatever it takes” – Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography
00:11:53 Planning for next year
With planning for next year's business, Corey talks through the challenges he faces in light of the uncertainty of the times.
“Looking at next year and asking what’s going to be going on in the world, right? Whether it’s the coronavirus or the demand for the outdoor space, what’s the key elements there in terms of looking forward and planning a business” - Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Founder
Before heading into the weekend Sean and Corey discuss a big video project that Sean is wrapping up. Check it out here! Join us next week for the next episode of the Beneath the Surface podcast.