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Casey Lorenzen

Lesson 12 from: The Photographer's Guide to Resiliency

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

12. Casey Lorenzen

Casey Lorenzen is the Content Manager at Fjällräven, giving great insight from a brand perspective.

Lesson Info

Casey Lorenzen

So I've already recorded this interview with Casey a few days ago. You'll see in the interview there was a big bed right here. So I just wanna be transparent and tell you that I already know what we talked about, and it was pretty solid. Casey gave us a lot of insights on what's going on with Fjallraven. So now, let me take a step back and tell you who Casey Lorenzen is. Casey is the Content Lead at Fjallraven USA. So, Fjallraven is an outdoors brand that's owned by Fenix Outdoors that owns Premise handbags, and a few other brands like that, outdoors brands. So Casey works for a big conglomerate that owns outdoor companies. And him and I met on a shooting at Montana. We were shooting their fall winter catalog here in the woods. And we had an awesome time, and stayed in touch since then. So I asked Casey if he would jump on a call with me to tell all of us what Fjallraven is up to, what are the best practices to pitch him and other brands like his, and where are they going as a brand. H...

ow has COVID affected the stories they wanna tell? So, once again, Casey's an awesome human being, and I'm sure you're gonna love our talk. (phone ringing) All right Casey, thanks for joining this. I know that your perspective is gonna be, I think, immensely valuable to all the creators out there. For those of you who don't know, I mean, I met Casey in a shooting in Montana that we did last year actually before all this. Yeah. In the good old days. (Casey laughing) And yeah, I mean, we connected really well, and I've been talking to Casey since then. And I mean, I've been talking to you since then. And I want to hear what you're working through as... What do you do at Fjallraven? I think we can start there. Yeah. So I manage all of our content. We're a pretty lean team creatively, here in North America. So when I say I manage our content, it's kind of, that's pretty multi-faceted, I'd say. A little creative direction, a little art direction. Production as well. So yeah, just manage that whole side of what we have going on for the brand. So yeah, excited to be here, Alex. Thanks for having me. For sure, man. Yeah, last time we were together we were like running in the back of a pickup truck and doing photo missions. (both laughing) Yeah. Yeah. Those were fun times. Multifaceted, for sure. It's like you have the truck, you get you to the odd direction. It's crazy for just such a big company that you're still like so involved. I love that. I respect it. Yeah, no. I actually enjoy that part of it too. I think that's what keeps the job interesting. And being able to kind of run fast and loose, and work with some awesome people, is one of the things that I enjoy the most. Yeah. Well, so let's just jump in. I mean, I'm curious to know how as a group, as an individual, how you guys are approaching the situation at hand. I'm assuming you guys had a plan, right? At the beginning of the year, like, everybody's got a plan, a rough idea of where they're going. And it seems like a lot of people have thrown their plan out of the window? Pretty much like their existing plan at least, the short term nine month thing is gone? Yep. So how are you guys approaching this situation? Yeah, it seems to be a week by week kind of scenario for us. Everything is changing so quickly that we have to pivot quickly as well. And I wouldn't say that, for us as a brand, we're completely throwing everything out the window, but it's definitely getting pushed back. We still have a lot of plans that we had in motion that we eventually want to see come to fruition, but given the circumstances it's tough to do a lot of those things. So, yeah, there's been a lot of shifting as far as what we're doing from the brand side, but yeah, it's interesting seeing kind of how roles have pivoted and where focus needs to lead. And yeah, that's been a weekly challenge, I'd say, but luckily for us, we're pretty well adapted to that as a team. So, I think we've kind of always run, to a certain degree in that sense. So we are, yeah, I mean, we're just trying to go with the flow right now, I guess, as they say, so. What's been your focus lately? Purely, yeah I mean for me and my immediate team members, it's been purely digital. I mean, everything has been moving to web, and social media, and email so. Which I guess for us was, I mean, I'd say it was maybe a blessing in disguise 'cause it was probably one of the areas that we probably needed to focus a little bit more on as a brand here in North America, so- Yeah, 'cause we see a lot in how tech magazine covers like your tradition print. Yeah, yeah. Which we still do. I mean, we're still running a lot of that stuff, but we're also, yeah. I mean it's a lot of pivot to digital so, which is, and I think it's good because it's forcing us to learn a lot in that realm that we'll carry, well past these times, so. So where would you say you guys are headed for the next, till the end of the summer until fall? Just as a brand or as a team? Yeah, with your marketing efforts, yeah. Just marketing wise. Yeah, I mean it's, we're right now, a lot of focus on, growing our newsletter, subscribers, growing our social following. So, and I think it's kind of two sided for us. We're really trying to bring people more value in a digital sense. I mean, because I mean, we're a nature brand, we're an outdoor brand. I mean our whole goal is getting people outside, and when you can't do that right now, we really have to shift our focus. (Alex laughing) Yeah, how do you do it? And try to think of new creative ways to do that. And so yeah, for, I mean the current time, we're coming up with ways digitally to kind of bring, nature to people in a certain sense and I guess get people excited for when that time does come again, so. That's like- It seems like a challenge, like almost like travel brands are having. It's like we'll be able to travel at some point, so it's interesting to hear the similarities that I've heard from travel brands. Like, we're gonna have to rebuild this, like EDS, it's safe to go out again. Yeah. Are you guys working on that too? Like for when things can resume? Yeah, we are. I mean, and that's the thing is like, we're kind of looking at it as like two sides right now. Like there's this one side where we're trying to inspire and comfort people, but then on the other side, kind of help them plan and prepare for when they can get back outside, so. And then on the, I just wanna bounce on what you said about acquisition, audience acquisition in a way. Are you guys running ads et cetera, to grow the newsletters? We are, yeah. So we've put, in the digital side of things, we work with a digital agency that we've kind of, has always kind of been running for us, but- Kind of in the background? Yeah. I wouldn't say it's on the background, but it's always like, not at the forefront, so yeah, we've put a lot more focus into that and both creatively, but then also executionally in kind of how we're targeting that, so. So you just, but the main of the campaign, the main goal of the campaigns have been to grow the size of the audience? 'Cause it's cheaper now? Yeah. Awareness. So, both sides, brand awareness, but then also, for us, a huge part of our business is our retail stores. We've got 33 retail stores in North America. Yeah. And they're all totally shut down. So yeah, the online business for us is what's really carrying us. So yeah, the sales side is also a huge focus, so. So now switching gears to the marketing, again, I've heard from a handful of smaller brands, like the, maybe the 20 to 60 employees. Yeah. In the space who have been saying that their next initiatives are gonna be more commercially focused versus brand focused. Like i.e. we wanna make some dough, versus we wanna, elevate the brand. You guys, as a smaller brand, would you say that's a similar consensus or not really? No, I would say that the focus will probably, I mean, from my thinking, I would say that it's gonna remain the same as what it is right now. I mean, we're always trying to elevate the brand and the awareness of the brand, as being a heritage brand in Sweden and in Europe. Yeah In North America and in the US, I mean, we're still relatively unknown. So there still is that side to our business that we really have to focus on and we can't really stray from so. I think that's super smart. Yeah. 'Cause I mean, I get it also, the small companies have way less runway and they need to react and you know that. You came from a smaller company before I think. Yeah. Yeah. Certainly. Yeah. It really was your backpack company, yeah? It was, yeah. I had my own brands, yeah. So we're super small, but- So you'd have had a different mindset right now if you had the backpack brand maybe. Yeah, totally. It would totally be shifted, so. (indistinct) Conversion versus anything else. Yeah. Totally. Oh yeah. Good. Well, it's good to, yeah, it's a relief to hear that the more established, I'd say historical brands are still working on the brand side because it's, I mean, I'm excited, like when I hear that, I get excited too, because I'm like, yeah, sure. I'm down to create or work on conversion, like we- Yeah. Be a little more pushy and work on conversion, but traditionally I think like marketers see Instagram, or YouTube smart as brand awareness versus conversion. And they're like, "Yeah!" When we run conversion ads, it's newsletters, it's Facebook ads, but you guys are more like brand vibes, it seems like you're not gonna be converting for us. Yeah. And I mean it's a long term play for sure. But as a marketer and as a storyteller, I feel like there's more richness to that side of it too. And I get, that's what I get excited about, creating some of those stories, so yeah. You've got a cool job. That's something I'll always push for. Sweet. Now, this is more nitty gritty, but have you guys have, cut any marketing budgets? If it's not too much to ask? Yeah. I mean, no, some budgets have shaved, but then a lot of budgets have just shifted. So for us it's- Later? Yeah. Like we're not able to do this right now just because of the circumstance. So yeah, just moving stuff around for us right now. So in a way the, so the funds, the budgets are still there. They're just being postponed. Yeah. And some stuff is being held and reassessed right now, but yeah. I mean, luckily for us, our business is really healthy. So we haven't had to have anything super drastic happen in that right now. That's pretty awesome. (both laughing) Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Cool. So now I know that you are the one who generally is hiring creative filmmakers. You work with a graphic designer or photographers. Yeah. Yeah, okay. So what are you going to be looking for in this year when you're gonna be hiring creatives? Yeah, I mean, so for me, I even had some plans that were postponed and or canceled, just because of the situation. And so for me, what I'll kind of come out of this looking for, and even what I'm starting to look for right now, is flexibility. I think that's the biggest thing is finding somebody that, I think a lot of creatives right now are super hungry and will take a lot of projects that are kind of coming their way, so. And for us coming out of this, I know that it's just gonna be kind of a bum rush of projects that are hitting. And so finding people that are able to do stuff, pretty quickly and on the fly will be pretty key for us. And whether that's locally or nationally, internationally, however, we're doing those productions. I think we're just gonna have to run pretty fast with them, whereas, in shoots past and stuff like that, we've had months to prep for it. And I think when this kind of comes, I think we'll have a little less time to do that. So that flexibility is gonna be key for me. I like that. It's a message of hope for a lot of you guys out here listening right now, like, "Yeah!" Oh for sure! And I know like I've, a lot of the creatives I've talked to, friends and people I've worked with, it's super tough times right now. And I kind of I'm like putting stuff out there, like, okay, we have this and if everything clears up, then let's run with it, so. Beautiful. Yeah. (laughs) Yep. And then is there gonna be any type of creators you're gonna be looking for? Like how can people be in a better position to work with someone like you? Yeah. I mean, as far as type, I think for me, having a wider range of capabilities is probably key because for us, even as big of a brand as you wanna call us, we're we still always look for people that are multifaceted. So people that can do stills and motion is a big component. People that can do lifestyle and studio. I mean, people that we can kind of rely on for a lot of different projects without kind of having to throw out a wide net is, yeah. That's probably something I'll be looking for as well. Cool. Then you mentioned earlier the local productions like you said, locally or internationally. Have you guys thought about switching your productions to more local stuff for now? Yeah. I mean, just because of what's happening right now, I had a fall-winter shoot planned for out of state and wasn't gonna happen. And so now it's like, okay, well, where can we do this in Colorado? And I mean, just being forced to do that. Yes. And so it's a little bit of both, honestly, I would still love to be able to travel for stuff like that, but because at times, yeah, we're kind of forced not to. Yeah. Yeah Find the snow till it lasts? Yep, exactly. Yeah. Okay, so you're just doing it 'cause you're forced, but it hasn't been the change of mindset, or? I wouldn't say, I mean, depending on how long this thing drags out, if it goes longer than anticipated, that could change things, but for us, I don't think that's totally in the cards right now, so. Yeah because spring summer was New Zealand yeah? Yeah. Spring-summer catalog. Yep. Far away! Yeah, yeah I know. Which luckily, yeah, that all worked out 'cause that's, we've had to use those assets in a totally different manner than what they were intended for and- In what way? So, I mean, you go into those shoots with something in mind. We had, like I said, we've got 33 stores that we have to fill light boxes, and POP, and all this other stuff that is so, like we look through it with that lens, like, okay, well, we need X amount of vertical shots and X amount of horizontals and wide landscapes and all this stuff that we build out for. And now nobody's in our stores to see those. (Alex laughing) We built them out, they're in the stores and the stores are dead. So now we're repurposing those assets for nothing but digital right now. Just newsletters on the side. Yeah. So it's completely changed how we approached that. Is there gonna be any takeaways for the next five years from what you've been learning right now? Oh, I would certainly say so. Yeah. I mean, I think, like I said, for us as a team, as a whole, it's the digital component, which like I said, I don't think we were lacking, but it just was never like top of mind for us, has definitely moved ahead, so. Cool. Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the stories you wanna tell as a brand? For right now, yes. I mean, because especially when it first started happening, when the stay at home orders were first coming down, the last thing we wanna do as a brand is, "Hey, buy this jacket." Like. So I mean, and I've seen it with everyone's doing it. Which it's the right approach, yeah. But yeah, so that's totally changed our messaging for the time being. I don't think, I mean, I think people are so inundated with it right now, it's kind of what's expected. So now it's kind of like, I think our messaging is more of one about hope and just kind of like looking forward to returning to normalcy for us, so. Yeah. I mean, yeah, we're all pretty excited for that, I think. Yeah. Although it could be worse, but you know. Yeah, certainly. Yeah. Just when you're talking about locally again, it made me think that you guys shoot outside most of the time. How often do you shoot in the studio, if ever? I was just shooting in the studio today, so. (laughs) Do you have one at the HQ? No. Well kind of a defacto one that we're doing some detail stuff there, but then yeah, hiring out agency wise to do the other stuff, which again, that's another change for us 'cause typically all of those assets have come from the mothership in Sweden. And we've never really had to touch that, and so now, because everything is going digitally, our sales meeting is now digital. We can't walk a model down and people can't see and touch the product, and now it's all through images, so we've had to create a lot of those assets kind of on the fly. So this pandemic has brought a higher need of images? You just need more? More and yeah, and I mean, that's the thing is, now it's like, okay, we need the whole line shot. We can't just rely on like, key colors and key styles. So yeah, that's in the last week that's been the trans, what's transpired for us, so. So are you gonna be leaning into the studio more for the years to come? Or is just a temporary thing? I don't know. That is TBD I think. 'Cause it's nothing that we were like set up to kind of run quickly with. So it's been a process, but I think, if we can kind of attack it two sided from the US and from Sweden, then by all means we'll probably keep going with it, but. It comes down to a cost thing. Really. You find that studio's expensive? Yeah. And just, I mean, if Sweden is already doing it a certain way and they've got their process, there's no reason for us to kind of step in, but- I get it. Yeah. Yep. So we'll see. Now in the marketing, in terms of targeting, I know your focus is, US for you, for your team, right? Yeah. US Canada? US Canada, and then yeah, now our team is starting to dabble into South America. So we're expanding our footprint there as well, so. Beautiful. Yeah. Now it's the Americas! (both laughing) The America's now the big aim! Yes, yes. Are you gonna be running more regional initiatives? I'd say like Northwest or like, because if this, I dunno, I was curious if brands like yours are gonna be thinking about more regions in a different way after this. Yeah. I mean, I think we, and we kind of were, we were thinking in that realm before all of this hit. And now I think it's again kind of pushing that up a little bit. In the sense of more community building. So in certain regions, with certain stores that we have, one of our biggest events of the years, the Fjallraven Classic, and- Yeah! That obviously has been canceled this year so- The Colorado. Yeah. So the thinking now is like to have some kind of smaller events similar to that, that are more localized. So yeah, I mean, and that was something that we had dabbled, I'm thinking for the future, but I think again, that's something that's getting pushed further ahead because of the situation. Cool. So, if you were to tell something to photographers and filmmakers out there for them to be more relevant to brands right now, what would you tell them? Oh, it's a good one. Yeah. It's a tricky one. Oh yeah. To be more relevant, I think- Yeah. Or helpful, you know? Yeah, no, I think being able to, like I said to have that flexibility is key for me, but then also showing kind of a breadth of capabilities is also key. So flexibility in schedule and, flexibility in schedule and then wide range of capabilities, meaning stills, studio, outside filmmaking. Yep. Yep. And then I think just ease of communication and ease to work with is a huge thing for me. And, I think from my side, I get inundated with emails. Like that's the biggest point of contact for people to reach out to me. And it gets lost so quickly. Yeah. That for me is like the one major thing where it's like a lot of times I'll see the email and I may be able to click into their portfolio, at that time may not. And if I don't, I probably won't ever see it again. Gonzo. Yeah. Yeah. And especially if I don't know you personally, I think that's probably, it's definitely harder. It's a difficult side for me too, because I really wanna give everyone a fair shake. I wanna be able to look at everyone's content and what they're creating, 'cause I'm always, on the hunt for rad people to work with and people that can speak to the brand. So yeah, I think, finding ways to kind of make it a little bit more personal, and reaching out, whether that's, I mean, it's typically always happened at trade shows and OR's, stuff like that. Yeah, yeah. Is always really nice, but that obviously isn't happening. Yeah. It can't even happen right now, right? What's the next best thing for somebody then? I think the next best thing is honestly like a personal connection, whether it be LinkedIn or Instagram, something like that, finding the right people. Which, it can be tough sometimes too. I know, like as a creator and trying to find who I need to talk to can be tough, so. But I think it's always putting yourself out there and it's always talking to people and being genuine with what you're doing, and not really kind of having that angle, but yeah. I mean, that's the other thing for me is I think is staying on top of it, but in the right ways. Is there, do you have any pet peeve on the way people reach out to you? 'Cause I'm assuming you get, like you said, a lot of emails. Is there anything that you find that, do you see often that you're like, come on, you could do better? No, I mean, I wouldn't say pet peeve, but I think for me, like I said, I was, I was doing a studio shoot for part of the day today and I've been planning that the rest of this week. And so for about half a day, I was away from my emails. And when I went back to check it, I had 140 unread emails, in that time. And so for me to like get- All the CC chains. Yeah. So, and there's just so much coming through, especially right now. There's just so much communication, especially internally. But, so when I think, I wouldn't call it pet peeve, but it's something that I think people should be aware of is if you are reaching out, especially if it's kind of cold call style, if I'm getting an email, that's a book, multiple paragraphs long, chances are good that I'm not gonna read it. (both laughing) So make it simple, like give me the quick and dirty, like what it is you do and how I can look at your stuff, and that's the best way to do it. Oh, sweet. That's really helpful. Cool. Yeah. What's gonna be the biggest takeaway for you as art director or content director, from this pandemic? I think just, I mean, from my side, I will say that I'm super lucky. I think I've been busier in the last four or five weeks than I've ever been. You're pretty busy usually. Yeah, I've been super busy, but now it's like, it's all coming back to like, okay, we need more of this, we need more images. So, I think, as much as it sucks right now for creators to be able to find work and get their work out there, all of that, I think when this kind of blows over and people are able to return to normalcy, I think the emphasis on creating great content, especially for brands is gonna be even heightened more. I'd say in the last 5 to 10 years, it's just had a steady incline anyway, and now it's like, you have to. You have to be able, and for us, like one thing I'm seeing too is you have to be able to pivot quickly. With this situation, most people didn't know was gonna hit this point at all. And so I think the brands that have done it best were the ones that, on the fly, could shift their thinking, but also could put out that content that spoke to the situation. Which I think we did relatively well. I'm proud of our team for doing that. So I've seen some brands crush it on that front and some that are just falling behind, so. And a lot of that comes back to the people that we work with and how quickly they can adapt, so. That flexibility. Yeah. Either fast team. Yeah, for sure. Okay. But I kinda wanna bounce on this. I'm sure we're running out of time, but, how can somebody be in the best place, based on what you said, that content is gonna be even more important than usual, moving forward after this. How can somebody be in the best place to be relevant to you? How can somebody show you their content the best way? Yeah, as somebody who can hire them. Yeah, no, like I said, I think that versatility is key. I think being able to show, that's great if you've got 500 amazing images that you want somebody to see. But I need to see like your top five- Okay, so curation for creators, pick their best stuff rather than to you don't wanna see their automotive work. No. I wanna see the stuff that would speak to my brand and stuff that I'm looking for. So I think, but not only that, but something that would elevate what we are doing. So I think kind of showing that breadth of like, okay, they can hit on what we know works for us, but then they can also do this that would elevate us to the next level. Okay. And you'll feel cool with somebody telling you how they can improve stuff. No, I love that. And I think that's- Okay, 'cause some people might think, oh, it's pretentious, like what does he know? No, but I think anyone that's in a position like mine, I'm a creative myself. So having those sessions to kind of like spitball because I'm always like wanting to create and do better, so yeah. I mean, if you come in like guns blazing like, this is how you need to do it. (both laughing) Then I'll probably like, okay, you need to back off. But no, but if it's a collaborative kind of like spitball thing, then I'm totally open for stuff like that. Like I welcome it. Okay. Well you've heard it from Casey. That's the way. Just flexibility, pick your best photos, and create a personal connection some how. Find where you live and- (Alex laughing) Good communication. Yeah. Send me a bottle of wine or something, there you go. (both laughing) That's the best tip we've heard so far. Yeah, there you go. That was great. Thanks a lot. I'm gonna- Thanks man. Cut this cammy, still rolling, good.

Ratings and Reviews

Anabella Borges

Perfect Timing They say things come at the right time and this workshop definitely did. Being a photographer is the greatest gift I could thank for, showing though my eye how I see existence is a blessing; but being successful from it is very tough! It has been a ride for me, and this workshop clarified so many things. The tools that are being shared are worth it all. Listening to these interviews made me feel not alone, hearing them speak about reinventing ourselves and trusting our creativity was inspirational. Specially the similarity of all about not giving up and staying authentic. Thank you Alex, you created a master piece of knowledge. Anabella.


What a wonderful resource! I really wanted to give Alex a HUGE thank you! This has been such a great resource as an aspiring Photographer. I feel way more confident and knowledgable about reaching out to clients. I still have some of my own homework to do but I feel like I am well equipped to tackle these challenges and to keep moving forward. Such a generous and honest resource. Can't thank you enough! And thanks to all who interviewed and shared their experiences.

Niklaus Morin

Timely Generosity Many thanks to Alex and friends who made this workshop happen! Very helpful, timely insights and reminders that building respectful relationships, trust, and community are values upon which to build personal, professional and cultural fulfillment and success. The conversational details within the interviews are fantastic. And the common threads throughout make me hopeful. Thanks again to all!

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