Ideas
Explore the world's #1 largest database of ideas and innovations, with over 500,000 inspiring examples.
Trend Reports
Discover why 900 brands rely on our AI-powered Trend Reports to get better, faster insights.
Newsletter
Join 290,197 subscribers who rely on our weekly newsletter to keep up with need-to-know trends and insights.
Consumer Insights
Uncover major shifts and emerging opportunities with our exclusive PRO research.
Trend Reports
Discover why 900 brands rely on our AI-powered Trend Reports to get better, faster insights.
Newsletter
Join over 250,000 subscribers who rely on our weekly newsletter to keep up with need-to-know trends and insights.
Dashboard
Get special access to premium content, topic tracking and customizable tools through our AI-powered Dashboard.
AI + Human Methodology
Learn how Trend Hunter harnesses the power of artificial intelligence.
Assessment
Enhance your innovation potential with a deeper understanding of your unique innovation archetype and how your organization benchmarks.
eLearning (NEW)
Prepare for the year's ahead with 100+ lessons, tactics, tools and frameworks with our full learning database.
Advisory & Services
Accelerate innovation and ignite disruptive thinking with our award-winning programs and research.
Trend Reports
Get fast, customized trend reports, presentations and deep dives 20x faster than traditional research.
Plans
Get started today with a free consultation, our self-serve tools, or a dedicated program.
Jeremy Gutsche
Ignite your event or virtual event with our CEO, a NY Times Bestselling Author and one of the top innovation keynote speakers.
Our Team of Speakers & Virtual Presenters
Inspire your group with our most popular speakers on innovation, trends, change and futurism.
Custom Training & Events
Bring the Future Festival experience directly to your team or co-hosted custom event.
Contact
Get in touch to learn more, ask a question or submit a tip.
About Us
Learn more about Trend Hunter and how we accelerate innovation.
FAQ
Get answers to common questions about Trend Hunter.
Community
Stay on the cutting-edge with the help of the Trend Hunter community.
Team
Meet the team trusted by hundreds of leading businesses worldwide.
Jobs
Find opportunities to accelerate your career with the #1 Trend Firm.
News
Catch up on noteworthy Trend Hunter news and media mentions.
Join
Build a portfolio and put your trend-spotting abilities to the test.
Advertising
Supercharge your marketing by partnering with Trend Hunter.
Portfolio
Visit your public portfolio and browse your past articles.
Add a Trend
Write up an article and showcase your trend-spotting skills.
My Trends
Edit your articles and see how they stack up on the leaderboards.
Settings
Edit your profile, connect your social media accounts, and more.
Add a trend, customize your dashboard, or track topics.
Future Festival
Innovation Events
Join the world's top innovators at our FREE Virtual events.
Free Webinars
During COVID-19, learn to innovate through chaos, navigate the new normal and maintain work culture from home.
Custom Training & Events
Bring the Future Festival experience directly to your team or co-hosted custom event.
Search our database of 391,824 cutting edge ideas.

How to Build a Branded Culture

Karl Kowalewski, Director of Leather Product Development at Roots
Taylor Keefe
August 2nd, 2012
Having joined the company when it was founded in 1973, Karl Kowalewski, Director of Leather Product Development and Design at Roots, has witnessed the evolution of creativity and innovation at the storied Canadian clothing company. In a candid phone interview, Kowalewski outlines the importance of culture and sustaining the brand’s image.

4 Questions with Karl Kowalewski

1. How do you motivate your team to come up with good ideas?

The motivation and creativity really comes from the research and the sampling of leathers. We have a warehouse filled with sample leathers. We pull the leathers out, lay them on the on floor and let the creativity flow by examining the products. We use the leather as a starting point for sparking inspiration.

Another thing that motivates us is that we encourage ideas and encourage people to act upon ideas. We encourage creativity. When you have an idea, you can quickly sketch and create a product. Within a couple hours, you can have the leather cut and sewn so you can look at the concept in 3D and quickly make any necessary changes.

2. Can you describe innovation at your company?

It's a completely different process every time. Sometimes I'll have to create something that will be featured in a film. Sometimes Michael will come in and ask for a specifically designed product. It comes from so many different areas. The uniqueness here is that we're constantly creating and constantly designing products. Everyday we're creating something new. We can introduce new products any time because we have our own retail. Right now, we're fascinated with incorporating iPads into our design. Tomorrow, the focus could be on backpacks. How that happens, I'd say it's organic and very ad hoc.

3. How do you create a culture of innovation?

It starts with the co-founders, Michael Budman and Don Green. Michael is here every day; he loves the leather factory. We love to wear the products, and not because we want to or have to, but because we truly love everything that we make. When we talk about Algonquin Park and the early years of Roots, it's about laying the foundation of the culture. Everyone on my team, and in other offices, has experienced Algonquin Park. I think we speak about the culture so much, that once you start working here, it's like being at the camp (Camp Tamakwa) that inspired Michael and Don to start Roots.

4. In what ways are you actively investing to enhance innovation?

You always have to be looking at improving in many ways, from materials to process. Quite recently, apart from the great team we have here, I've looked into and tapped connections with friends I attended school with in Milan during the late-70s. I've tapped into their resources. At one of the tanneries near Florence, there's a young guy who's doing his own leathers. He created a few leathers, which are quite creative and that I want to use. So it's about getting outside perspective and modifying it to fit the Roots brand.
References: linkedin, canada.roots