Welcome to the ‘Pack With Me’ series, where we hear from some of The Cairn Project’s women-owned brand partners about their path to the outdoor industry and their ’10 essentials’ for adventures near and far. In this edition we hear from Deejay Cook, Co-Owner and Head of Marketing and Partnerships for Treeline Coffee Roasters, of Bozeman, Montana. Since 2013, Treeline has been brewing coffee for adventures on and off the trail.
It was the introduction to the outdoors that many dream about. Deejay Cook was raised at a summer camp in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, so for her, the outdoor industry was a way of life from her earliest years.
Her parents met at the summer camp, located in Nevada City, California, when they were in their 20s. A classic tale of ‘summer love’; they ended up getting married, having a couple of kids, and moving to the suburbs. Eventually returning to the mountains where they met, they took on the epic adventure of owning the summer camp where their love story had started.
“We moved back into the mountains, and this ‘path’ launched me into all things outdoor recreation. Our camp is where I learned to backpack, canoe, mountain bike, waterski, frolic and eat an obscene amount of marshmallows and still be able to say “chubby bunny”.”
It was there, at Snow Mountain Camp, that DeeJay met her ‘sister’ and now business partner Natalie. She was 8, and Natalie was 17. “I started following her around that day, and never stopped. So when Natalie and her husband moved from California to Bozeman, MT in 2011 and I followed along in the summer of 2014.”
Her plan: Spend a summer in Bozeman before heading back to California to pursue a law degree. Nine years later, Deejay shares, “I never made it out of the mountains and into law school. Instead, I bought into the amazing coffee company she founded and haven’t stopped adventuring in Bozeman since.”
Lessons from the outdoor experiences that Deejay carries with her into her personal life? “As a person who can’t skip and chew gum at the same time, I fall down – a lot – especially when adventuring. For me, the biggest takeaway is that you gotta assess the damage, get up, brush it off, and keep moving.”
This mindset has come to the rescue over the past couple of years. For Deejay, owning a service industry business during a global pandemic was akin to tripping over tree trunk, after tree trunk , after trunk, after tree trunk, and so on – for three years. The only way to weather the storm was to get back up and keep moving.
“Our ability to take the hit, assess the damage and keep moving forward is something that I am extremely proud of. There were a lot of opportunities to just lay there and give up, but we kept getting back up and trudging forward. Each scar and bruise comes with a story, and that’s the same in business. I feel grateful to be here today telling my story on the other end of the pandemic, knowing full well that not every business was as fortunate.”
What’s one way that Deejay enjoys getting outside? Paddling her foot Old Town canoe and named her Karen. With her husband who also grew up going to camp canoe adventuring through the Canadian wilderness, DeeJay has just scratched the surface of exploring all the lakes and waterways Montana has to offer . And the name? DeeJay shares, “I’m a gal who knows what she wants to name her canoe.”
When asked about a recent memorable outdoor adventure, Deejay shared, “My favorite excursion is one that we do annually. Each year, we head to the crystal blue waters of Cliff and Wade Lakes. We paddle to an island or a shoreline and set up camp and have the place to ourselves for the weekend. The water is perfectly refreshing on a warm summer day and the lake can easily be paddled, allowing for several moments of sitting back and soaking up the sunshine…
…The beauty of a canoe is that we can plop it in the water and pull up on some shoreline that isn’t accessible by car or trail. It’s our way of getting off the beaten path and something we’ve grown to enjoy and appreciate together.”
Regardless of the adventure, there are a few items that Deejay refuses to leave behind. Here are Deejay’s ’10 Essentials’ for a weekend canoe trip:
- Black Diamond Headlamp – “The minute we set up camp, the headlamp goes onto my head. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times that I’ve gotten lost in the magic of being outside with my favorite human and K9 only to have darkness fall and I am unprepared. I already mentioned I have issues with walking and not falling – you can only imagine what that looks like in the dark.”
- Chacos Sandals – “My black Chacos. Those are for water adventures. I own a weird amount of Chacos, and they each have a purpose (car camping, hiking, fashion, and water excursions). I’m aware I have a problem…let’s move on.”
- A Sun Hat – “You won’t catch me outside in the summer without a hat on. Usually it’s Treeline branded or repping one of my favorite breweries. We can also include hats to one of my “problems”. My husband now has me on a “get one, give one” hat program…so there’s that (insert long dramatic sigh).”
- Kula Cloth – “I don’t think you need details on this one, just trust me ladies.” Bonus – purchase the Rae Lakes Kula For a Cause and give back to The Cairn Project.
- All Good Sunscreen – “This one keeps your skin safe and waterways clean.”
- First aid kit – I think y’all are starting to understand I’m clumsy. Go to your local outdoor store and grab a kit that suits your adventure! Not sure which one to get? Ask them. There are kits – for every adventure, but you really should be out and about without one.
- Toothpaste chews – “I use a refill service for bulk products here in Bozeman called the Refillery. It’s female owned, and she has these amazing toothpaste chews that don’t taste terrible. They are clutch when you’re adventuring because they are light, packable and plastic free.”
- Big Agnes Sleeping Bag + Bourgee Pad – “Bear with me here. I have your standard big Agnes sleeping pad (XL so I can slide up and down and not fall off) that zips inside of a padded mattress sleeve. It’s extra. It’s bulky, but you are canoeing, so why the heck not.
- String lights + Inflatable Lantern – “We have a string of solar powered string lights and an inflatable lantern that we take everywhere. Doesn’t matter the adventure, having a solar powered light comes in handy.”
- Treeline Coffee’s Force of Nature Blend – “This coffee will serve as a catalyst to inspire outdoor adventure and passion into a force of good.” Grab your bag. 10% of all proceeds go directly back to The Cairn Project.
- Bonus: Some of the best adventures are done with our loved ones. “My main squeeze? Margo the Dog, commonly referred to as “Marge” or “Babushka”.”
About Deejay Cook, Co-Owner and Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Treeline Coffee Roasters, a Bozeman-based coffee company: Deejay Cook (formally Newell) graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor in Political Science, an emphasis in Legal Studies, a Minor in Criminal Justice, and a Paralegal and Mediation certificate. She was distracted from her love and passion for the law when she landed in Bozeman in the spring of 2014. After two weeks of working for Natalie, a childhood friend and mentor, at her coffee shop and experiencing life in Bozeman, she pivoted and decided to pursue a life in Montana and a career in coffee permanently. She is now a co-owner of Treeline Coffee Roasters and sits on the Women’s Business Center board for Prospera, The City of Bozeman’s Transportation Super-Board, and was the recent recipient of the Bozeman Chronicle’s 20 Under 40 and the Small Business Association ‘Business Person of The Year’ for the state of Montana. She enjoys all that Bozeman has to offer and loves to use her business as a platform to give back to her community.