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Meet Clare Hefferren of Callosum – An Evolution to Outdoors

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clare Hefferren.

When Clare J. Hefferren founded Callosum, she chose her company name thoughtfully. “The Corpus Callosum is the nerves that connect the left side of the brain to the right side,” she explains with a smile.

The branding agency is focused on the Outdoor Recreation and Mountain Lifestyle industries. Creating connections is key. “The best part of my job is taking the Founder passion and making it visible to the public so they feel it equally,” Hefferren says. “Brand positioning and brand strategy are the precursors to marketing. It’s about how to tell your story and differentiate your brand.”

The agency was founded in Chicago in 2005 when Clare found herself at one of several transformative points of her life. Seven years into a successful corporate career, workaholic late nights led to health issues. Clare followed her instincts to heal her body and soul in the outdoors and spent three years living in Vail, Colorado. After returning to the city living in San Francisco, then Los Angeles and corporate life for another seven years, she found herself similarly needing transformation. She knew it was time to make a drastic change. She followed her heart and permanently moved to Vail where she now serves clients nationwide. Nature creates the opportunity to be at her best for herself and her clients.

“Nature fuels and feeds me. It keeps me grounded. On a daily basis, I feel alive, risking, challenging, and growing. There are endless opportunities to raise the bar with outdoor endeavors, and that translates to business as well.” Clare and her affiliates are equally comfortable riding singletrack or ripping skins as they are solving complex business issues. “We are all outdoor adventurers. We understand the industry because we’re in the backcountry doing it, taking risks, and overcoming fears. We are comfortable being uncomfortable. We are willing, and encourage our clients, to push the envelope and be innovative.”

Clare seeks to work with purpose-driven brands. She finds energy and satisfaction adventuring outdoors and in being involved in her community. A thread of professional women and youth weaves into her volunteerism. Whether it is serving as the former President of Vail Valley Business Women, on the board of Sacred Cycle, or volunteering her consulting services to outdoor-inspired start-up companies at Denver’s Wayfinder Coop, Clare is constantly sharing her passion and knowledge with others. 

Clare says “It’s so important to continually evolve and stay fresh. I always want to be challenged, grow, and be curious. I love sharing my passion for evolving with our clients.”

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A smooth road? Never. Over 14 years you expect to hit a few detours, potholes and run out of gas. There will be struggles – it is how you handle them that counts. The 2007-2009 recession hit us financially, yet it gave us the opportunity to shift services. The cost of travel has at times reduced flying regional teams to work on client site, yet provided us an opportunity to grow our affiliate team with remote nationwide staff. After a decade we found it important to narrow our niche to differentiate it from the marketplace. A brand refresh has realigned the agency with our ideal clients.

Please tell us about your business.
We are a 14-year old boutique branding agency for the outdoor recreation and mountain lifestyle industries. We cultivate brands & elevate outdoors by guiding outdoor and mountain lifestyle brands through critical strategic thinking, disruptive brand story creation, and brand marketing which result in measurable cultivated relationships. We lead by intuition and back it with data.

Our business model is built on affiliates (19 active currently) to bring clients the best expertise while keeping overhead down. Our affiliate model sets us apart as all of our staff and remote team members live in mountain towns or are avid outdoors people who escape to the trails regularly. We are our client’s end users. We are known for our brand builds. Our three favorite brand words are consistent, memorable and polished. While we are beyond the start-up phase, we hold a place in our hearts for the start-ups and thus work with many of them.

We have a Client Code of Conduct which asks our clients to give in their community, in sustainability or for the planet. We walk the talk as members of 1% for the planet & Protect Our Winters

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’m a believer in creating a tribe to support me in growing Callosum. Hat tips to coaches Kevin Gross of KMG Enterprises who took me from a 1-woman graphic design solopreneur to a team consultancy model; To Courtney Parks who taught me to eat lunch and that stepping away from the desk to refuel (literally and spiritually) is vital to success; and to Philippe Lavie of Key Road Enterprises who had the insight to know I needed to open a Colorado office in order to be my best.

Vista Bahn Ski Rentals of Vail grew with Callosum in it’s early Colorado years. As a  multi-generational family-owned ski shop founded in 1977, we worked together for eight years. They grew with Callosum and in doing so became family. It was an honor to be a catalyst for their growth.

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Image Credit:
Callosum Client: TopShelfHarvest-Dapper. Photo credit: ShowLoveMedia

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