Having joined Dewerstone as a brand ambassador and later as media and communications manager for the team, Rich has been a part of Dewerstone since it began. This is how he came to be a part of the family.
I grew up in rural Devon and learned to climb and ride my bike on the tors surrounding Bovey Tracey and Tavistock. When I was seven my dad first took me to places like Blackingstone Rock, Hound Tor, and ironically the Dewerstone itself, on climbing and camping trips. I’ve never forgotten the feeling of the rock under my fingers or the smell of moss on granite. Dartmoor has always been a place where even in the worst of weather, to me it has been dramatic and beautiful, dangerous and exciting, a place where one can look in every direction and often see only unspoilt, rolling countryside, free of the touch of man and uncultivated by humans. It seems crazy to think that I might not have become involved in Dewerstone in some way, given the upbringing I had. Happily, I guess we’ll never know.
I count myself as one of a fairly privileged, small group of people that has seen Dewerstone as a company grow, right from the start, to the brand it has now become. Through the ups and downs, the mistakes and victories that every company goes though, its been pretty cool to watch it turn into what it is.
I met Ben Coombs on a rainy day in December of 2013 at his house in Shaugh Prior (after spending not an inconsiderable amount of time trying to find the flaming place...) which was to be Dewerstone HQ for the following ten months - until we would move all operations permanently to the Ermebridge Works at Ivybridge - where he explained to me the exciting if fairly ambitious plans he and Rory had for their new company. Having been a professional trials rider for nearly a decade, spent two years working at high levels within a students union, and having seen countless start up business and clothing brands come and go, I do remember going into this initial meeting with an open mind, but nonetheless without my hopes being too high. Suffice to say, its pretty hard not to be impressed by a man who invites you into his house, gives you some free clothing, and invites you to hear about the last time he drove a sports car three quarters of the way around the globe whilst offering you a beer from the cocktail bar that sits adjacent to his indoor swimming pool, all the while casually gesturing to said sports car which is parked outside, on the drive of what can only be described as the mansion in which he and five others were at the time living. You don’t walk out of first encounters like that and think, “Hmmm, wasn’t really feeling it.” You also don't see the pool, the house, the cars or the beer and think "I bet he didn't work for them..."
Not long after that first meeting I met Rory Atton - the creator of the Dewerstone concept who had twisted Ben’s arm into running a company with him - who also lived at Shaugh Prior, and the following eighteen months went faster than any of us could imagine.
At the same time that Dewerstone stepped onto the scene, my own business venture The Slackline School became a reality, and Rory and Ben immediately threw their support behind this strange new events company, which - although none of us knew it at the time - would go on to work with clients such as Glastonbury Festival, Red Bull, Barclays and The Outdoors Show. In time, I became less known for being a trials rider - the original reason I’d been supported by Dewerstone - and my exploits with slacklining became the main focus of my adventures and outdoor pursuits. In April 2014 I dragged myself out of a bit of a tough patch in my personal life by throwing myself into a project with long time Dewerstone collaborator Felix Smith, which became Dewerstone One, the first short film that I helped create for Dewerstone, which went onto be the unofficial launch of the Lifeshorts, and is still to this day one of my favourite videos I’ve been a part of - although everyone seems to get the idea that I wasn’t in the happiest of moods when I edited it… You decide…..
After that, and an extremely busy season with The Slackline School, I took some time off and stole Rory’s GoPro to go and make a video for a week at my home in Cornwall, that ended up looking like this;
This video (the intro at least…) has been on the front page of the Dewerstone website for the last six months, and was regarded by Rory and Ben as being ‘Exactly what we are about.’ It was hardly surprising that not long after this, they offered me a job, and here I am, Media and Communications Manager for one of the fastest growing outdoor lifestyle brands in the world.
So enough about me - as thrilling as I am. What is it that I actually do for Dewerstone then? Well, probably my most important job is what I’m doing right now; writing about us. Our blogs and social media make up a huge amount of the flow of information that every company needs to have with its clients and followers. Alongside my own posts, it’s my job to collate information and prose from our other highly talented ambassadors such as Tom Bunn or Bill Mattos, and help share their stories and their adventures. I also deal with the demons that are Twitter and Instagram, scheduling tweets and posts to be shared with our followers, and also give input on how our Facebook pages and website work. Those few things generally take up the eight to sixteen hours a week I’m able to be in the office (while The Slackline School isn’t steamrollering the rest of my time), and any other time I have is spent doing what every other employee (Ben and Rory included) is doing, which is packing boxes, doing the mail run, folding new clothes, and every other tiny job that ends up becoming the leviathan task of running any successful mail order business. But beyond that I do have other, sometimes more exciting and bigger roles to fulfill, such as planning our next big video releases - like the follow up to the One Week film - or helping the rest of the team to design events that Dewerstone are sponsoring and developing. Everything in that last sentence is top secret though, so keep it hush hush and watch this space….
Aside from what I do for work - both with Dewerstone and my own business - I wouldn't be where I am if I didn't have a passion for the outdoors. I've climbed since I could walk and from the first day the stabilisers came off my bike I've been trying to ride it off bigger and scarier things. I discovered slacklining fairly late at the age of twenty five, but suffice to say it's now become an equal if not greater contender for my spare time, that which I have left of it.
So that's me. The who and the what at least. ‘Why’ I suppose is the last question.
Why work for Dewerstone? I honestly can’t imagine why I wouldn’t. I’m one of the very, very lucky people, who doesn’t have a million pounds in the bank (or even a fraction of that), who isn’t driving a sports car, who doesn’t have a million followers on twitter, but who is truly happy every day I go to work. You can’t not love a place where your boss stops you half way through writing a blog post to have a chin up competition. You can’t not be happy in work when you get told there's photographers from a local paper coming round, and they want some shots of you slacklining across a river in the new Lifeshorts (which you get to keep, obviously). I get to work with my friends, do something different every day, and work in a place where everyone who comes in, whether its a courier or a customer, looks around and goes, ‘Wow,’ usually when they see the climbing wall that's next to the TVR that's parked below your office (ok, some of us drive sports cars, but they’re older than most of the staff, and only run when Ben can afford to tax them…).
All in all, I can’t complain, and rarely do. If you’re interested in knowing more about the job I do or anything else that happens at Dewerstone, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have. Also, if you feel like you’ve got something you can contribute to our blog or social media, whether its a review of one our products, or just a really nice trail you found for a walk or a ride, we want to hear from you. Drop me an e-mail and become a contributor. You never know where it might lead. I managed to get a job out of it.
Hope you all have a great week.
Next time; Becky Waters talks about kayaking on the River Dart.