Boulderz BETA Series #9: Talking shop with Uyen Nguyen-Cwinn on CSS and building community.
Today we are profiling Uyen Nguyen-Cwinn, who manages the Climb Smart Shop. Uyen tells us how she stays on top of current trends in climbing gear and how the connection with nature and the richness of climbing outdoors inspire a passion for the sport and the industry.
Tell us about the shop! It looks different today than it did before the pandemic hit, doesn’t it?
Yes, we have both a physical retail store and an online presence. During the pandemic, we had time to renovate the shop area and build it up to more of a stand-alone shop, whereas before it had been just a few racks in a corner of the Etobicoke gym. Our online shop grew too, with sales across Canada, the US and even internationally.
How did you get into climbing?
I started climbing when I lived in Guelph and happened to live across from a climbing gym. So I tried it with my partner, but didn’t really get into it until we moved to Toronto and came to Boulderz and started climbing regularly.
I became good friends with a Boulderz employee at the time, and they introduced me to outdoor climbing. I was hooked! I really loved it. Climbing outside offers such a great environment and a bonding experience. It just feels so good being in nature surrounded by a beautiful rock face and beautiful faces of friends. It’s also a bit more exhilarating climbing outside.
Now that it’s nice weather outside, I try to climb outdoor every week with my friends.
When did you join Boulderz?
I started at Boulderz three years ago working as a floor monitor. Now, my current role is managing Climb Smart Shop, including the social media and our website. I also coach, teach classes (both private and in groups), and recently got certified as an indoor lead instructor.
How do you keep up with the industry and what people want for the shop?
As a gear head myself, I love managing the shop and it has been such a privilege to have the autonomy to drive Climb Smart Shop in our growth, our online presence and what we sell. To keep up with what is changing or new to the industry, I do a lot of social media and market research, and I also talk to climbers to see what we need.
Since the Olympics, there has been a boom in climbing as well as new climbing brands and products. My goal is always to provide high quality gear to get climbers on the wall as efficiently and cheaply as possible.
We pride ourselves on having brands and gear that not many other retailers carry. It’s always a great moment when climbers choose to come to our shop for our unique gear selection.
And what is the best thing about working at Boulderz?
Definitely the people! We all share the common love of climbing. I feel at home when I’m at Boulderz. Going to work feels like an extension of my passion for climbing and I’m so grateful that I can do it alongside my friends and people I care about.