What a year it has been! Last month marked our one-year milestone since my brother and I took the torch from the founder, and our friend, Susan Schurke. We reflect on the amazing story this company was built on and have likewise been truly inspired by all of you. We can’t help but be excited as we look to the future.
The path forward seems simple at times, that is to maintain tradition while evolving and discovering new ways to fulfill our ongoing mission: "To inspire and connect people to the outdoors; steeped in tradition, quality and respect for nature.”
Fulfilling our mission will balance thinking differently with our 35-year legacy. This has become a value that our team here at Wintergreen has taken seriously. Our team has come together and has taught us a lot this first year. They continue to help us understand where we have come from while embracing the changes necessary to strengthen our operations. This allows us to produce more lifetime goods for our growing community. We have come a long way, and we are proud of this progress.
Although growing a small business is hard, some things will not change. We hand-make every article of clothing here in Minnesota, we pay livable wages, and we are dedicated to the communities we serve. So with our core value of Thinking Differently in mind, we wanted to be transparent about some of our new initiatives and the why behind them.
We have a vision of creating a timeless wardrobe of essential pieces needed to live the outdoor life. This requires a commitment first to maintain integrity in our lead times. Over the past few years, we have had to shift our business to largely made-to-order. While we continue to make great headway in our ability to have in-stock items, we have adopted an improved made-to-order policy that we monitor and update daily. Our newly launched website provides a higher level of accuracy to our production times, while internally we continue to focus on adopting manufacturing software to improve the visibility of each order through our production process.
New product development is also a critical capability that allows us to pursue our vision. At times, it’s difficult and costly to understand the needs and wants of our customers. We also have the capability to create versions of existing products that are outside the standard offerings of colors or fabrics. We call these our Limited Edition runs and you will see these offered throughout the year. This process starts with an idea that comes from our passionate employees, our incredible ambassadors who use our products in the most extreme conditions, or from one of you who shares your ideas for inspiration. We regularly review these ideas and prioritize them, then we enter our prototyping phase where we work on design and function. When we feel we have a piece that is up to our standards of quality in craftsmanship and material, we launch our limited run of a new product or color variation! This offers early adopters a one-time opportunity to enjoy a piece that will likely never be replicated again. It also puts a small amount of these quality prototypes into your hands for field testing and feedback. We’ll evaluate your feedback and make improvements with the hopes of arriving at the next piece to add to our lifetime wardrobe.
As we enter into the colder months, we look forward to sustaining this great tradition and creating our future together. We hope you are as excited as we are!