Meet Our In-Store Experts
As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, Lily from our Fort William store knows how to kit up for even the wildest Scottish Highland weather. We sat down with her to learn more about what goes into choosing the perfect footwear, her thoughts on how the outdoors can become more accessible and the joy of wild camping.
How long have you been working for Cotswold Outdoor and what brought you here?
I’ve been working for Cotswold Outdoor for just over three years. I was drawn to the company because it gave me the opportunity to meet new people who love the outdoors as much as me. Working in the Fort William store is great because I can share my knowledge about kit and set people and families up for their outdoor adventures.
I especially like meeting customers who are new to the outdoors or at the beginning of their outdoor journey. It’s a chance for me to really connect with them and ensure they’re comfortable and confident so they can feel what I do when I get outdoors.
What does the outdoors mean to you?
For me, it's all about reconnecting with nature and a space where I can take time for myself and my family. The outdoors is so important because it gives people a place to be who they want to be and do what makes them happy. Plus, I love the fact people can connect through the outdoors but still pursue their own interests.
Although I’ve had some big adventures in the past, I often think it’s about the little spontaneous ones. Those moments finding new places or even going to spots you’ve been to before and seeing them in a different light – they're the ones you cherish.
What are your favourite outdoor activities in spring and summer?
My go-to activities in spring and summer are hiking with my two huskies and trail running. I really like wild camping too, although it’s important to respect the environment. I always make sure I can carry all my equipment and kit in and out of wherever I’m planning to wild camp. Plus, it’s one of the best reasons to go wild camping - you get to experience the most beautiful places without leaving a single trace that you’ve ever been there.
Have you always been outdoorsy?
I feel lucky I’ve always had access to the outdoors. As a family, we often went camping, cycling, hiking, or even exploring ruins, and we were always encouraged to get outside. I’m very grateful that it was a part of my childhood because I’ve carried it with me into adult life.
Do you think the outdoors is accessible to everyone?
I think the outdoors is becoming more accessible, but there’s more work to be done. One of the challenges I’ve noticed is some communities don’t see themselves represented in outdoor activities and that can make it daunting. I think people in those communities who are brave enough to put themselves out there and show how it’s done are incredible. These people are so powerful, and we must do everything we can to support that.
As a woman who loves the outdoors, I’m also proud that Cotswold Outdoor are elevating women in the outdoors. Looking at how we as a business can offer the support and kit to make it more accessible and enjoyable for women to get adventuring.
How do you think you can play a part in helping everyone get outside?
I think by speaking to an in-store expert. Customers can utilise our knowledge to make sure they get an item that’s perfect for them. And that applies regardless of whether they’re new to the outdoors or more experienced.
Our in-store appointments are a fantastic way for our customers to find the right kit because they can explore all the options available to them. Having that time to listen to customers’ requirements means we can offer the best service and make the perfect recommendation.
How do you help customers find the right kit?
For me it’s about learning what’s important to them and what outdoor activities they plan to do. I can then use my knowledge to make recommendations that I’m confident will help them. Because ultimately, having the right kit that’s fit for purpose means it will last much longer.
I think we’ve all bought a product in the past that we think is right for us at the time, but it turns out that it's not. That’s not great for our wallets or the environment. But with help from our in-store experts, we can help you get it right the first time, and why wouldn’t you want that?
What do you personally look for when buying outdoor kit?
I look for items that are going to last, are durable and that I can use for multiple activities. I'm happy to spend a little bit more if I’m confident the item will give me everything I need.
Having the best technology is also important. In the Scottish Highlands, the weather can be wild, and it can be very remote, so having kit I can rely on to keep me warm and dry is essential to staying safe and feeling confident outdoors.
I particularly love GORE-TEX products because I know I’m getting an item that’s completely waterproof and breathable. I really value that, especially in the summer - we get a lot of rain, but milder temperatures and GORE-TEX really suits this environment.
Any final words of wisdom?
Always start your adventures with the right footwear! There’s a lot of choice when it comes to outdoor footwear, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Which is where I come in - I really enjoy the challenge of helping people find footwear that’s so perfect for their needs and comfortable that they want to wear it straight out the door.
We’re very lucky to have a 3D foot scanner in Fort William, which means we have the best technology to see the shape and the size of our customers’ feet. We use this knowledge and expertise to make the best footwear recommendations for our customers. We consider not only the best brands and styles but also the best technologies so that our customers have the best experience outdoors.
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