Kaley Westhusing is in the full stride of life. The native Alaskan is currently a Sales Service Representative at SCARPA North America in Boulder. Raised outside Anchorage in the mountain town of Girdwood, her parents taught (and tricked) her into spending much of her childhood in the hills around their home. Call it a con job, but it worked nevertheless. Kaley has been working most of her adult life in the Outdoor Industry, as have her two sisters. Some might say nature, others nurture. We say, why not both?
Growing up in Alaska exposed you to quite a bit of the outdoors. Is that what led you to Colorado for college?
It definitely had a lot to do with it. As a small kid it’s a lot harder to wrap your head around enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and I oftentimes felt like my parents were sandbagging me on every excursion I was taken on. What I was told would be a quick hike would instead turn into a 10-hour, grueling day up a steep peak, incentivized by the promise of gummy bears at the top. Looking back, I’m thankful to have those authentic experiences of growing up in Alaska; it truly shaped my appreciation for the outdoors. I guess Colorado seemed like a no-brainer.
Both of your sisters work in the outdoor industry. Does it seem natural that you would end up working for an outdoor company as well?
Kind of, but it didn’t come as easy as it does to some. I’m the youngest of three, and I did my fair share of dabbling with various careers. After college I moved to Portland where I worked in marketing and eventually the weather got the best of me. I experienced a quarter-life crisis and moved to Europe for a year to mull things over, and finally found myself back in Boulder where I ended up landing at SCARPA. If you call that a ‘natural path’, then, yes!
My sisters and I had the same influencers growing up, and my dad was always bringing home the latest and greatest outdoor products. His ‘gear room’ was the epitome of the Outside Buyers Guide. He used to tell us there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, maybe it stuck with all of us, and we felt an innate calling to rid the world of bad gear. Now that we do all work in similar fields, it’s really cool to hang out with my sisters, and share the same appreciation for product innovation and design amongst companies and share ideas with each other.
You worked for other footwear companies and have previously written reviews for Women’s Adventure. What about SCARPA has drawn you in to work for them?
There are a lot of companies that allude the perception of being core and making quality products when they actually make crap. I think what draws me to SCARPA is that we are core, we have innovative products, and I feel really good about selling people on them because I believe in them. I’ve worked for companies in the past where I didn’t have an intimate relationship with the products; it makes for a hard sell when you lack that connection. With SCARPA it just feels easy, and I don’t have to lie to anyone.
What’s your role like at SCARPA? Can you give us a snapshot of a typical day?
I’ve never been a creature of habit, and often I find myself getting bored if I’m doing the same thing all the time. Don’t get me wrong—I do my job. A typical day entails a lot of communicating and maintaining relationships, giving, taking, compromising. Sometimes I feel like I’m dating 150-200 people at a time. Aside from that, I try dipping my toes into a multitude of things going on around the office. I like having a lot of projects lined up, and the challenge of getting them all done in record time.
You say you dabble a lot in the various sports around Boulder. What SCARPA products are you currently keen on for trail running and climbing?
I like the Spark for trail running, it’s minimal but still has enough cushion and support for rough trails. For climbing it’s a tie between the Vapor V and the Instinct S; I like being comfortable.
How has your experience growing up in the outdoors influenced your perspective at work?
Really it just gives me an appreciation and understanding of SCARPA as a brand, but more importantly, the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. It’s really nice to walk into a pre-selected group of outdoorsy people and know that you have shared values. People aren’t attracted to the outdoor industry to become a millionaire; they’re in it because it attracts amazingly fun people to work with. If you think about it, you spend 40 hours per week with these people, so they better be good.
What qualifies as a Top Ten day in the hills?
A long trail run in the Indian Peaks with good friends. I love spending time with people while adventuring, otherwise you’re just alone in the woods and only you knew it happened. It’s nice to have those shared experiences.