Hike it Baby is proud to have KEEN as one of our incredible title sponsors. They have generously donated prizes for our HiB30 Challenges and recently collaborated with our very own Shanti Hodges to make the following HiB video:

erinWhen I started preparing for this interview I never imagined I was actually going to meet my interviewee! While I was working on this piece I found out I was going to travel to Portland, Oregon as part of a holiday family road trip, our first of its kind south of the border from our new home in Vancouver, BC. So there I was, going into the heart of downtown Portland looking for the KEEN Headquarters building about to meet Erin Simons! Erin is KEEN Kid’s Business Unit Director, mother of two, and a footwear industry expert. I was thrilled to have a few minutes with her in person to complete my assignment!

How do you balance your career and family?

It’s definitely not an easy task, but I try to set boundaries. Evenings and weekends are family time and I try not to make exceptions. Eating dinner together every evening, taking afternoon walks around the block and planning camping trips on weekends help us keep a healthy balance.

How do you spend your weekends with you family? Is hiking and outdoors a big part of your life? If yes, where is your favorite hiking spot?

Being outside provides our family so many invaluable benefits…fresh air, family togetherness, absence of technology, creative play…they create this much needed release from the hectic pace of everyday life. From nighttime walks around the block to weekend hikes to summer camping trips, we understand the incredible value of being outside and try to make it a priority in our lives. Our favorite weekend hiking spots are in Forest Park, Springville is a favorite.

If you were given only 1 box to take on a hike, what would you put in it?

Water, sunscreen, a soccer ball for our boys to kick to keep them motivated, poop bag for the dog , Earth’s Best squeezies, crackers, bread.

What do you think is the most valuable item for a child out in the wild?

Well I’m biased but I think good footwear is really important! Nobody likes when water soaks through their shoes and gets their feet wet and cold!

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What’s the most incredible view you’ve ever seen?

The Olympic range in Washington State at sunset, camping on a ridgeline on a 3 day backpacking trip…before we had kids.

What is your role at KEEN Footwear, and what aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

I manage all aspects of the KEEN Kids business, from product to marketing to sourcing to inventory to sales distribution. My favorite part of the job is doing insights studies or photo shoots with kids because I get to hang out and be goofy! It keeps things in perspective.

What are 3 words you would use to describe KEEN Footwear?

Functional. Healthy. Fun!

What are your hopes for your industry as far as helping families get out and enjoy nature?

The Hike it Baby community is a great example of the power of the outdoors for families and we feel lucky at KEEN to be a part of that growing community. I believe the outdoor industry does great work to protect and conserve the places we play outside and hope KEEN continues to lead in that regard.

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What are some things you recommend parents should look out for when buying children’s outdoor footwear?

Fit – make sure you are fitting your child’s feet early and often…kids grow out of
shoes an average of 2-3 times a year.
Movement – buy shoes that let your kids feet move freely…especially at young
ages you don’t want flat, stiff or inflexible shoes that inhibit movement.
Quality – we work with partners in our supply chain that provide safe working
environments for employees and utilize responsibly-sourced materials. You
can always find cheaper options but you don’t always know what was
compromised to get there.

What does it mean for KEEN to be a Hike it Baby partner?

We have enjoyed every aspect of working with Hike it Baby…the staff, the community, the engagement and passion are all contagious! We look forward to continuing the relationship for the rest of 2016 and beyond…

Photo Credit: Yazmin Vazquez, Kendra Reeder, Sarah Ann Cox-Kuss

Author’s Bio: Yazmin is a Branch Ambassador for HiB Vancouver, BC. She joined HiB right after moving to Canada in 2014, same year the branch had its first hike. She is a wife, mother of an almost 3 year old boy, traveler, former bilingual educator, avid volunteer, shutterbug, treehugger, music lover, and a hiker who likes to collect memories, not things.

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