Jedd Rose co-founded Topo Designs and occupies multiple roles on our team: as President, of course, but also works with our product and marketing teams leading the creative and brand direction. While it’s true that we tell Jedd’s story elsewhere on our site, we wanted to give you an opportunity to get to know Jedd the way we know him here at HQ… as a fly fishing fanatic (he’s the kind of guy who bikes to the local pond after work every day), fashion enthusiast (ask him about Nike or Japanese outdoor culture, you won’t regret it), and The New Outdoor™ banner flyer.
What is your role at Topo Designs and what does it entail?
Technically my title is President, which tasks me with helping my business partner, co-owner and CEO Mark, to lead the overall direction of the company but I spend most of my time working with the Marketing and Product teams leading the creative and brand direction for Topo.
How did you end up starting Topo Designs?
I had spent my career before Topo mostly in the design and branding world working everywhere from small print studios to a stock video agency, and even into the medical animation world. At a certain point I was really wanting to get back to doing something that had more of a physical representation of a design idea rather than just digital. I thought about what would be something that I could build that encompassed the branding knowledge I had as well as my love for the outdoors and fashion, and a backpack seemed like the perfect fit. So I bought a roll of fabric, a bit of hardware and a sewing machine, disappeared in my basement on nights and weekends for way too long and ultimately came back upstairs with what would be the start of Topo.
On my first day at HQ, you told me the story of your childhood hunting and fishing with your dad in Wyoming. Can you re-tell that story for our audience?
Yeah that part of me, growing up in Wyoming and spending so much time outdoors, was a huge piece of why I wanted to start Topo. Nothing to me has the same intensity and feels as much of a holistic experience as being outdoors. My dad did an amazing job of explaining his approach to being outdoor through showing me examples of how pre-agricultural societies lived and interacted with the land and its wildlife. He feels like that history is an essential part of who we are as humans, and I’ve carried that with me. As a result I was, even at an early age, approaching the things we did outside with such a depth of knowledge that all those experiences enriched my life in a really unique way.
What is it about fly fishing?
Fishing to me is one of those inherently human things that if you haven’t done it it's hard to convey why it is so enjoyable and how it taps into the pieces of yourself that you never knew existed. There is something about the challenge of the ever-changing seasons and conditions and the simultaneous simplicity and complexity that turns it into something making it a lifelong curiosity and opportunity for learning. Specifically, fly fishing to me is a great combination of skill, form, history and constant learning combined in a really elegant package that is really intoxicating.
The New Outdoor was your brainwave. How did it come to you? What does it mean to you and how do you live it?
The idea came less as a desire to rage against the machine and flip the tables on the establishment (because I also love the old outdoor) but more as a way to reframe and spotlight a new side of what it looks like to be outdoor. It took me a long time to personally move past the idea that not every outdoor experience needs to be the most quintessential epic trip. Those of course are not to be discredited by any means, but there are smaller, more integrated ways to include getting outdoors every day. So to approach it from the perspective that yes, while the most epic experiences are still epic yet they happen so rarely, that having more accessible experiences can happen more often and be just as fulfilling. The other component that is also super important is that people approach outdoor activities as individuals. Starting by learning the basic skills, but building their own ideas of what is important about it and tune that approach and gear to best suit their personal experience. So much of the traditional outdoor approach has been very prescriptive as to what is considered to be an acceptable way of engaging in an activity that it has really limited the audience that feels like they can participate.
What does The New Outdoor of fishing look like or mean to you?
One of my favorite things to do in life is to travel to a far away place and fish for bonefish in the ocean. I get to do that very rarely, so I tried to imagine what I could do in a short period of time that could give me a similar experience more often. I learned how to fish for carp in shallow waters in my local pond which is just as challenging and rewarding, if not more so than traveling around the globe, and just a short bike ride from my house.
What's your favorite fly to tie?
If I had to pick one, it would definitely be a Thin Mint streamer with a bit of a twist. Instead of the classic chenille body, I like to tie it with a sparkly Hareline Ice Dub one to give it a little more shimmer.
Any advice to people interested in learning how to fly fish but aren't sure where to start?
Of course there are plenty of YouTube resources out there, as well as how-to resources from brands like Redington to get started as a first step. Then I would say the best way to put it into practice is to go with someone who knows what they are doing. This could be a friend, a class with others, or a day with a guide in an area where you live. Those interactions will be so informative and can quickly fill in all the gaps and questions after the first round of self instruction.
What else are you into besides fly fishing?
That is definitely a long list of rabbit holes whether it is table tennis, niche content on NHK or vintage mountain bikes, but my daily obsession has to revolve around food and cooking. I started watching cooking shows on PBS like The Urban Peasant when I was really young and they really inspired me not only to learn how to cook, but about food in general. I ended up working in restaurants for a few years which furthered my love for it, and actually learned some legit techniques and have been trying to hone my craft my whole life. It's something that makes what you have to do every day a creative skill, and for me that’s extremely enjoyable.
Favorite Topo product?
Wow... that’s like asking to pick a favorite child, but currently I’m really loving our Carabiner Shoulder Accessory Bag. It's such a utilitarian piece that I can use everywhere, from walking around town to traveling, to carrying a minimal fishing kit when I fish with my Tenkara rod.