Meet #TeamTopo: Rick VanderLeek

In The Wild

Meet #TeamTopo: Rick VanderLeek

What do you do for Topo?

I'm the Brand Design Manager. Along with my team we work in tandem with Jedd (Founder) and James (Director of Marketing) to help craft the look & feel of the brand, outside of designing actual product. Our website, digital communications, video, retail experiences, events, sales support, etc. That's just the shortlist. I work with an amazing team and the success is the sum of the parts, certainly not just me.

How'd you get here?

I have a background in art direction, graphic design & advertising. We bought our first Topo Designs pack in 2011. I fell in love with certain things about it right off the bat—the quality, details, versatility and colors. When we finally moved to Colorado from Michigan, I made it a priority to get in touch with the small crew making this awesome gear. Jedd & I grabbed lunch, then a few happy hours over the next couple years. A relationship developed over time and as the brand grew, here I am.

Show us some of your favorite projects you've done at Topo.

We're living in a digital age for sure, but you bet I'll salivate over anything we still have to print (responsibly, of course). A postcard, catalog, brochure. All of those pieces translate digitally but if print is the root, I love that.

Name a designer that inspires you:

One of my design mentors is Steve Frykholm of Herman Miller. He was the company's first graphic designer hired in 1970. He's so much more than a graphic designer, but he refers to himself as just that. His work hangs on the walls of the MoMA, he's an AIGA Medalist and rose to be the VP of Creative Design at Herman Miller. His work ethic, attention to detail, and overall character cannot be matched. Herman Miller was a client of mine for 13 years. An amazing video dedicated to his craft can be viewed here.

Image: Dress Code

We hear you're into bikes and music?

I love bikes. Biking gives me time to think. I race cyclocross in the fall with the Topo Designs Cycling Club. I'm enjoying more gravel rides lately, and live across the street from some of the best mountain biking around, right here in Fort Collins, Colorado. I'm currently listening to the brand new Waxahatchee album, but really prefer spinning vinyl with my wife & two girls in the evenings, it's so intentional. We'll play a healthy mix ranging from Michael Jackson, Harry Styles & Stan Getz to Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov & Wilco.

What's a quarantine survival tactic that's been working for you?

I have a dedicated studio space in the basement, but I've switched my work location to three spots around the house to keep moving and to keep it fresh. Maybe four. Wait, what day is it? Oh, and hot lemon + lime water with a dash of ginger & cayenne.

Any Topo product hacks you want to share with us?

While biking or trailrunning, my go-to pieces are the Ultralight Jacket and Mini Quick Pack. I also use the Bike Bag and Accessory Bags to help organize my snacks and gear on long gravel rides.

Can you show us your EDC?

Of course!