Why would a company that designs and sells protective fire gear sponsor Arts Corps year after year? The short answer is that they deeply value creativity, imagination, and risk-taking; core skills that Arts Corps cultivates in students through our arts integration and out-of-school time programs.
True North Gear’s origin story speaks to how intrinsic these values are in the company’s DNA. With a sewing machine from Goodwill and an idea for a new type of pack he wanted to create based on his outdoor experience, founder Alyx Fier launched his company in 1992 out of his garage. While working full-time as a carpenter, he spent six months teaching himself pack design, patterning, and prototyping on nights and weekends. With time and persistence and innovation, he was able to design and sew his own designs.
Fast forward 29 years and True North Gear is a multi-brand corporation with a global reach whose products save lives. As Fier proudly describes it: “Everything we make is either used to protect the life of the person using it, or they are using it to protect someone else’s life. That is so consequential and intrinsically meaningful.”
Their products range from chainsaw packs to radio harnesses to flame-resistant pants, and they have dealers across the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Even with their growth, they continue to be a family-owned company, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S, just a few miles from the garage where it all began.
When asked if arts education influenced his development as a young person, Fier unequivocally associated it with his success in business. He shared, “I’m living proof that studying and being engaged in the creative process as a student can provide the foundation for an intellectually and financially rewarding life. My college education focused on film, theater, music and audio engineering, none of which would seem obvious choices as a precursor to a successful business career as opposed to getting an MBA.”
Fier continues: “The common denominator of my studies is that they all involved the creative process and what I learned is understanding and appreciating that failure is an intrinsic and important part of success. Knowing that emboldened me to risk taking. You have an idea, you try it, it doesn’t work the way you expected, you learn from that experience and apply it to the next attempt. It’s only failure if you don’t learn anything and don’t then try again. Fear of ‘failure’ is what holds most people back from actually being successful.”
Arts Corps is so grateful to have corporate partners like True North Gear who value the importance of cultivating creativity, imagination, and risk-taking among youth. Thank you, True North Gear!
— CHRISTA MAZZONE PALMBERG, Development Manager