Smartwool names new president
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Smartwool has a new leader, but the culture and purpose of the Steamboat-based sock and apparel retailer will remain unchanged.
“My message has been business as usual,” said Jen McLaren, who was named president of Smartwool Tuesday. “We have a lot of momentum right now in the brand, so there is no reason to make any big shifts. In fact, we just want to keep everybody focused on the opportunity we have here.”
McLaren is the first female president of Smartwool since the company was acquired by VF Corp., along with the Timberland brands, in 2011.
“I have always had really strong women mentors in my career so far,” McLaren said. “I’m excited to have that support here and to have the opportunity and continue to mentor the whole team here as they progress.”
McLaren moved to Steamboat Springs with her husband and sons more than six years ago and has been serving as Smartwool’s chief financial officer. She has also served as North American CFO for Timberland and also worked at Arthur Andersen and Softbank Capital.
“I raised my hand to come over here because I have admired the Smartwool brand from afar for a really long time,” McLaren said. “Smartwool is just an incredible place to be.”
She replaces Travis Campbell, who has been promoted to vice president and general manager of The North Face, Americas, another company owned by VF. He held the president’s position at Smartwool for just over a year.
“You always hope that you leave a place better than you found it,” Campbell said. “I definitely did not intend to only be here a year and a half. I came here because I was excited about Steamboat, and I had heard great things about Smartwool. I planned to be here as long as I could.”
Campbell said Smartwool has a great culture and a history of influence in the outdoor industry.
“Frankly, when I came in, some of those things were just a little shaky,” Campbell said. “There had been a lot of transition, and there had been some leadership roles open for a while. The heart was still there — it just was not beating quite as fast as it had been. I think if there is anything that I really specifically tried to give to Smartwool in my time was its confidence back, it’s energy level back and its enthusiasm for what it does and why it does it.”
That momentum is something that his successor is hoping to continue.
“We have started to embark on being a little bit louder about our purpose as a brand because consumers are really staring to look to brands to not only make a difference in what’s going on in society but also to be truly authentic to who they are,” McLaren said. “My goal is to elevate our story for our consumers and start to showcase a lot of the passion and this incredible culture we have here at Smartwool.”
She said people can expect Smartwool to continue to be a great community partner with the company and employees supporting causes that make Steamboat a great place to live.
For example, on Thursday, McLaren and a group of Smartwool employees will partner with the U.S. Forest Service and Routt County Riders to help to build a downhill bike trail on Fish Creek.
Smartwool employs 70 people in Steamboat Springs and 115 globally. The brand has U.S. offices in Steamboat Springs, Boulder and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and also has facilities in Montreal, Canada and Stabio, Switzerland. Smartwool products are distributed in 40 different countries around the world.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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