Georgina Reed, a graphic designer at Equip Outdoor Technologies, strikes the perfect balance of love for the outdoors and creative design in her career. Join us for a chat about the cyclicity of design trends, importance of time outdoors and what she’s learned in her 16 years at Equip.
About Equip Outdoor Technologies
Equip Outdoor Technologies is the powerhouse behind brands Rab and Lowe Alpine. Their technical equipment and everyday clothing are sold in outdoor retailers throughout the country. The company uses Canto to bolster relationships with retail partners. Read their story here.
Hi Georgina! Can you tell me a bit about what you do at Equip Outdoor Technologies?
I’m a graphic designer and production artist. I primarily work each season on the packaging and brochures and look after the product photographs – the assets that are always required, that every product, from our smallest belt up to our biggest sleeping bag, will need.
There’s so much that goes into preparing a product to sell! What were you doing before Equip and how did you end up working for the company?
Before Equip seems like a very long time ago! My first graphic design job after I left university was for a software company. I was part of the marketing department and designed everything from product brochures to magazine ads. After that I went to a multimedia agency and designed websites and interactive CD-ROMs. I missed designing items for print while I was there, but the knowledge and experience I gained in web and digital design certainly made up for it.
I was looking for something new and the ad appeared in the local newspaper for a graphic designer at Equip. I’d always been a keen walker and love spending time outdoors, so to be able to combine my chosen career with one of my other interests was my dream job.
How did you get from where you started at Equip to the role you’re in now?
When I joined Equip it was a much smaller company, I think there were about 25 of us and the marketing department was just me and a manager. With it just being the two of us it meant we created everything. The websites, ads, packaging and brochures were all designed by me. Now 16 years on, we’re a much bigger company with offices around the world. The marketing teams in the UK alone consist of 11 people and four of us are graphic designers. We can specialize in different areas and, important in a creative role, we can bounce ideas between us.
Wow – 16 years! I’m sure in that time you’ve worked on many notable projects. Could you tell me about a few?
When we first started making Merino Base Layers it was exciting because not only was it a new type of product for us but it gave us the opportunity to package things differently, not just with a swing ticket. We’ve had the base layers in the range for quite a few years now and as trends and consumer preferences have changed, we’ve changed the way we’ve packaged them. My favorite was when we packaged them within a semi-transparent wash bag with a card sleeve inside. I know a lot of people kept that wash bag for many years, so it really did do what we’d hoped, which was to avoid throwaway packaging.
Another notable project has been more recently when we celebrated 10 years of the Microlight Jacket. Having been with the company back in 2008 for the original product release, then being involved with the 10 year campaign, it’s been great to see the progression of the product and just how popular it is.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Seeing something I’ve created in its final place. It’s great to be in a shop that sells our products and see the swing tag doing its job. Back when I was at school, I remember our art teacher describing graphic design as communicating with people via the everyday items they see and she used a box of Corn Flakes as an example. I remember thinking how fantastic it must be to have designed that graphic on the box, something that thousands of people use everyday. Maybe the swing tags on our products aren’t seen by or recognized by as many people as a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, but the pride in seeing your final design in use is the same.
You studied graphic design in university – how have you seen graphic design change over the years?
Things do seem to go in circles, you can have a few years where everything is using muted colours and mono logos and then a few years later it’s back to everything being bright. Fonts also go in and out of fashion. A serif font is often seen as old fashioned but used with the right elements can look very modern. When I was at university 25 years ago, although we were using computers (I’m not that old!), we still did a few things by hand and were taught about old fashioned typesetting with metal blocks. Everything I do now is done on a computer but it makes you wonder what the graphic design students in another 20 years time will be using.
So in your transition from a graphic design role to taking on more of a production artist role, have you learned anything new about branding?
Keeping things simple and clean looking is so important. Not only on a personal level when you’re creating hundreds of swing tags, but from the consumer’s point of view too. Graphic designers often joke about clients who insist on the logo being made bigger or insist on filling any gaps so they don’t feel like they’re paying for wasted space, but it’s true, less is more!
The tagline for Rab is “The Mountain People” and for Lowe Alpine is “Move Your World”. Working at a company so focused on outdoor adventure, how do you like to spend time outdoors?
I’ve always loved being outdoors and from a young age went walking with my family. I grew up in Derbyshire so I’m lucky that I’ve always lived in an area surrounded by beautiful countryside. I took up running about four years ago and try to go out for a run at least once a week. If I’m not out walking or running, then I’ll be gardening. Being outdoors is definitely how I spend a lot of my spare time.
Equip has a wide range of products, from technical climbing and hiking gear to everyday backpacks and packing cubes. What’s your favorite product from Rab or Lowe Alpine?
Working for the company for as long as I have means I’ve accumulated a huge amount of our products so narrowing it down to just one favourite is quite tricky! For everyday outdoor wear in cold weather the ‘Rab Deep Cover Parka’ is definitely a favorite. For going out for a run in rainy Britain, the super lightweight ‘Rab Flashpoint Jacket’ is something I wouldn’t be without. A Lowe Alpine product I get a lot of use out of is the ‘Boot Bag’. It may just be a simple product for keeping muddy boots separate from other gear but it’s the sort of product you don’t know you need until you have one!