Four outdoor industry professionals discuss how they feel about the amount they're paid
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A store manager, a copy writer, a founder, and a program manager dish on their salaries and whether they get compensated fairly.
Manager, Outdoor Gear Exchange
“My partner and I are lucky because we were able to find this house that nobody else wanted to live in. It has seven-foot ceilings, it’s 900 square feet, and it’s right next to a busy road. It’s still tight making the mortgage; we have a roommate. We’re able to make it work, but I do have a second job. [The store’s] starting salary has definitely become a barrier to attaining good employees. It’s frustrating because I interview these fantastic candidates, and then I tell them the salary and I can see on their faces that they’re not interested. I say, ‘We’re working to change it,’ but that doesn’t mean that it’s changed right now. It’s hard to know that our starting salary is lower than what people can make at the bagel shop down the street.” —as told to Shawnté Salabert
Yuba City, CA
“I recently saw a job [posting] and they wanted to pay $25 an hour. We’re worth more than that. When you’re the second connection to the consumer (or to the buyer, if it’s B2B) after imagery, you’re the first person talking to the customer, and you’re the one bringing them in. That’s super important. If you’re generating income for a brand, be it in the immediate term or over time, that’s a valuable commodity. I don’t screw my clients over. I do everything on a project basis because I think that’s way more fair for the client; they shouldn’t be paying for writer’s block or when I get distracted by Twitter. But it’s also fair for me; if I knock it out of the park on the first draft, I shouldn’t be penalized for that.” —SS
Owner/Founder/President, The Taku Agency
“We sell tools to create an experience, and that experience is in your heart and mind forever. It stays with you, it inherently makes you better—for yourself and for other people. That’s why I’ve stayed all these years, because it’s truly a great industry where you feel good about coming to work every day. I’m comfortable that I don’t have the biggest lines (such as Gear Aid, Opinel, and Minus 33), that I don’t have the biggest income coming in—I’m comfortable with life as it is. I’m not looking for a lot more. I’ve always said that if I made lots of money, I’d just give it away, because money is power—and it’s not power to control, but it’s power to make positive change.” —SS
Program Manager, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
“My background is in social justice and advocacy work around education and immigration. I’m making the same amount now that I was at my previous job, and decided to accept that because I was interested in beginning in this [outdoor] field. But it’s just my husband and myself—I don’t have any kids to worry about. It may have been more of a dealbreaker for me if I was in a different situation. I would like to see folks get paid more—especially those of us who are bilingual or multilingual, and people who are being asked to do racial equity work, because there’s a lot of emotional labor that’s involved. It’s something that I care about and work that I signed up to do, but it does take a toll in a different way that is less visible.” —SS