James Kennedy: Your art and jewelry all speaks about the earth and taking care of the environment – how did that vision for your company begin?
Most of what we use is with stainless steel. My team and I looked around and saw that stainless is one of the largest recycled materials available. Each of our products has a minimum of around 60% recycled content, and we shoot for 80%.
To make ours stand out from the crowd of other recycled items available for purchase, we looked around for some sort of unique process and found cut steel – it gives the jewelry a different look and feel. The process allows us to create designs that are unsupported and with a much greater amount of detail.
As for how the outdoors comes into the picture, it’s kinda my spiritual outlet – where I want to be. I wanted to create something that promotes the outdoor experience, and it turns out to be something that people enjoy wearing everyday. It means something to them. We make jewelry for the AT as well as the PCT (just a couple examples), because that is where our customers are.
JK: Talk about some of the work you’ve been doing with the PCT lately.
SG: I’m on the board of directors for the PCT. I grew up out east in Georgia, so I spent a lot of my time on the AT with my father – weeks at times. The reason I work with the PCT is I see it as a way of giving back.
With the PCT I help to integrate it with the outdoor industry so that we can use our resources to help maintain, protect, and improve the trails and the legacy that they carry. That is what we are supposed to do.
The PCT isn’t in a finished state, and neither is the AT – they never will be finished. There will always be trails to maintain and structures to improve upon. These are the things that we need to pay attention to. They put me on the board with others in the outdoor industry so that we could all be more involved.
The problem I see though is that most of us on the boards are well over 40 years of age – so there is a big need to have younger people involved. The upcoming generation is going to figure out how to maintain these outdoor places and to keep them open for years to come.
JK: What are some of the challenges you see in getting the younger crowd involved?
SG: A lot of times they don’t get involved till the programs that the older generations have been running fall flat. In other words, this isn’t just a problem for the youth, this is also a problem for the older people too. It needs to be those that have been around in power for a long time to empower the younger people and teach them how to run things.
The 20 somethings have been told to stand in line behind the 30 somethings who were told to stand in line by us, and the new 20 somethings are saying “I don’t think so.” They have become much more entrepreneurial. I would encourage them to get involved with a current organization, like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and from there they can spin off into numerous other projects that can’t even be imagined yet.
It is very likely that you would start off working with trail maintenance at first, but there you meet mentors who can help you along your journey.
It’s also vital to have young people in DC. A lot of the resources that goes into the outdoors and the spaces we have are owned by the government. If we don’t have a voice where it counts, then we wont be getting a lot of help.
In today’s world, anything can happen! Hop on with some group, and you’ll have a lot of fun while making an impact. The outdoors is simple, that’s the beauty of it. It’s a spiritual place.
I’ve got a lot of confidence in the next generation coming up. They’re gonna be doing some amazing things in the outdoors.