2015 OIA Rendezvous Keynote: Bruce Pavitt

By Gareth Martins July 13, 2015

In 1967, Seattle-born musician Jimi Hendrix and his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released “Are You Experienced” to critical acclaim. The legacy of Hendrix is integral to the Seattle music scene and is core to the incredible Experience Music Project museum. If you’re attending this year’s OIA Rendezvous, you’ll be part of a great night at the EMP. DJing the event will be Sub Pop record label founder, Bruce Pavitt, whose label is best known for the works of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Pavitt’s ongoing legacy extends far beyond Nirvana though. A highlight from his biography reads:

Recognized as a cultural visionary and Seattle business icon, Bruce has appeared in a number of documentaries, including “Sonic Highways” and “Hype.” His footprints have been bronzed and embedded into the Walk of Fame sidewalk at 6th and Pine in Seattle, alongside Jimi Hendrix and Bill Gates.

Pavitt will also join Rendezvous as the opening keynote speaker, offering his vision of how connection to community can benefit the outdoor industry. OIA’s marketing communications manager, Gareth Martins, recently connected with Pavitt to talk about outdoors and music.

Gareth Martins: The outdoor industry has become increasingly aware that healthy communities yield healthy people who in turn, seek out our products to go outside and play. That, in part, drives a healthy outdoor economy. In reading your bio, I learned that one of your core business philosophies is related to the concept of community, “Brand loyalty is strongest when creations flow organically from genuine communities.” Is there, indeed, a relationship here?

Bruce Pavitt: Let’s look at the roots of REI and Sub Pop. Both companies are global brand leaders that started from humble beginnings, with initiators who were crazy passionate about what they loved. Jim Whitaker, the first full-time employee at REI, went on to become the first American to summit Mount Everest, as well as become the company’s CEO during the ’60s. Kurt Cobain, an early Sub Pop artist, went on with Nirvana to revolutionize rock music in the ’90s. Both of these heroes pursued their dreams with the aid of young companies that were in touch with their immediate communities. In turn, customers resonate with vision, integrity and the belief that odds are meant to be overcome through sheer will and love for challenge.

Jim Whitaker at REI and Kurt Cobain are both heroes who pursued their dreams with the aid of young companies that were in touch with their immediate communities.

GM: How do you experience the outdoors?

BP: I experience the outdoors through hiking. I live on Orcas Island and enjoy the epic views from Mount Constitution and Turtleback Mountain. I also experience bliss while camping at outdoor music and art festivals like Symbiosis and Imagine.

GM: What are your recommendations for experiencing the EMP museum?

BP: Seattle’s Experience Music Project is an invaluable resource. I suggest checking out the Nirvana exhibit, as it will soon be exiting the EMP to travel the globe. In addition, I suggest checking out the deep inventory of artist video interviews.

GM: What’s your advice for an independent specialty outdoor retailer to connect with their community?

BP: I recommend reinvesting in one’s immediate community through service projects, grants, scholarships or contest awards. Be a hub for finding outdoor adventure and not just a place to buy gear. Hosting massive parties with free refreshments is also suggested!

Be a hub for finding outdoor adventure and not just a place to buy gear.

GM: For any of our night-owl attendees, where’s the best place to catch the latest / greatest Seattle music talent?

BP: Try checking out the Vera Project in the Seattle Center, as it showcases younger bands, usually local. It’s all ages. Nectar Lounge in Fremont tends to showcase artists from the emerging West Coast festival scene. Nuemos is a staple on Capitol Hill for a variety of new music. I’m also a fan of Re-Bar near downtown for alternative dance DJs. Seattle is a great city for music.


Don’t miss Bruce Pavitt and all that OIA Rendezvous has to offer in the Education Experience. Register now and join us in Seattle, October 5 – 7, 2015.

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