"WHEN WE FIRST HEARD THAT WE COULD MAKE PRODUCTS FROM RECYCLED OCEAN PLASTICS WE THOUGHT, YEAH, WE CAN DO THIS! I MEAN, WHY NOT?" ~JOHN LAND LE COQ
Interview by Rick Crawford of Emerger Strategies
I fell in love with fly fishing during the summer of 2008 working as a waiter on a guest ranch in Wyoming called the A Bar A Ranch. As it turned out, the decision to move from Savannah, GA to Encampent, WY is the best decision I ever made because I met my wife that summer as she was also on the wait staff, and as luck would have it, my roommate happened to be a fly fishing guide who showed me the basics of casting and entomology. It was great because I had open-access to all of the rods, reels, flies, etc. in the guide shop and my roommate let me borrow whatever I needed. I became obsessed with fly fishing and completely immersed myself in related books, movies and YouTube videos to learn as much as I could so that I could catch more trout.
After the season ended at the Ranch, I moved to Steamboat, CO to fulfill a dream to live “out West.” Besides, our economy was crumbling and I had no idea how I was going to put my Liberal Arts degree to use anyways, so I figured I should at least live somewhere really beautiful while I figured what I was going to do with my life. I worked in a t-shirt shop, and even installed solar panels, but was mostly just saving up to buy my own fly fishing gear as I no longer had access to a guide shop with all of the gear I needed. I couldn’t afford a rod and reel yet, so I decided to start small, and the first piece of fly fishing gear I bought was a Fishpond chest pack to carry my flies, tippet, and other items.
The reason I bring all of this up is because things seem to have come full circle over the last ten years. While I was working in that t-shirt shop with clever shirts that read, “I’ve Never Been Higher – Steamboat, CO” I was really struggling with trying to find my purpose and wound up reading a couple of books (“Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard and “Getting Green Done” by Auden Schendler) during that slow winter that introduced the concept that business could be used to solve environmental problems, and the seed was planted to try and figure out a way to marry my two passions: fly fishing and sustainability.
Well, here we are ten years later, and I did find a way to marry my passions by starting Emerger Strategies and helping brands in the fly fishing industry increase their growth while minimizing their environmental impact by turning their sustainability achievements into powerful marketing stories. Through this process, I now have the opportunity to interview John Land Le Coq. John is the CEO of Fishpond who makes products designed for anglers and those who live an outdoor adventure travel lifestyle. Fishpond is a certified B-Corp, gives back to environmental nonprofits and is even using recycled fishing nets to make their product line Cyclepond. Additionally, Fishpond is also an activist company for public lands and John has traveled to DC to meet with politicians to advocate for better climate change policy. Finally, the very first piece of fly fishing gear I bought was from Fishpond, and I still use that chest pack to this day. So, I’d like to thank John for not only making wonderful products, but also taking the time to discuss sustainability and how Fishpond is using its brand to make a positive impact!
Tell me a little bit about yourself…
I was born and raised in Colorado, have two wonderful daughters and currently live on a ranch on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies. I came from a design and branding background and love photography. Currently, I am focusing on leveraging Fishpond’s brand voice to create more awareness about environmental threats to species around the world.
How did you get into fly fishing and running Fishpond?
I originally got into doing some photography and branding for big brands like Apple and then founded Case Logic, which I eventually sold and bought the ranch where I live today. I always loved design and after I sold Case Logic I wanted to get into manufacturing and pursue my passion for fly fishing and design. Fishpond is all about kicking ass with product design and is a design-driven company.
What effects of climate change are most concerning to you?
Well, economics are big, but my real concern is for people who are living in poverty in island-nations who will be displaced because of things like sea-level rise, but also what’s happening in my own backyard regarding climate changes impacts on species. I mean, just take a look at the increase in fish-stress levels because of warming water temperatures, which has both economic and species impacts; or the fact that bears are increasingly losing their natural habitat which results in a lack of biodiversity of fauna because bears distribute seeds and enhance biodiversity with their skat. We want to use our voice at Fishpond to protect animal species because it’s not only the right thing to do, but there are real economic implications. Consider that right now there is a 5 month ski season and we are on track to have a 28 day ski season by 2050 if current climate change trends continue.
Read the full interview on The Sustainable Angler