Who We Are

We’re a team of outdoor enthusiasts. We share our love for the outdoors through innovative and intuitive product design.

Our Mission

Our product design inspires and motivates people to live active and healthy lifestyles.

Philosophy

We believe that our best ideas come from the trailside. By pursuing our outdoor passions, we keep authentic user experiences at the forefront of every design.

Our Story

Kyle Ellison is the founder and lead designer at Trailside Creative. The roots of his passion for design trace back to his childhood when he fell in love with the natural world while hiking in California along the coastal mountains of Santa Cruz and high above the tree line in the Sierra Nevadas. 

In 2012, Kyle launched Trailside Creative with the explicit goal of sharing his love for the outdoors with others through sustainable product design. He and his team still find that the most inspiring, innovative, and compelling designs come from time spent outside, and the best way to make the world a better place is to make the outdoors experience more accessible to all. 

We believe that relationships are the gateways to new opportunities, innovative ideas, and successful product launches.

Meet our product design team

  • Kyle Ellison, founder of Trailside Creative.

    Kyle Ellison

    Principal & Founder

  • Rob Strickler Headshot

    Rob Strickler

    Sr. Industrial Designer

  • Myrna Lewis

    Industrial Designer

  • Seth Israel

    Industrial Designer

  • Michelle French

    Senior Apparel Designer & Product Developer

  • Garrett Kettler

    Business Development Lead

  • Andy Jones

    Sr. Graphic Designer

  • Rachel Benyola

    Startup Support Team

  • Shawn McVey

    Startup Support & Strategic Advisor

  • Jaimi Jansen

    Startup Support Team

Kyle Ellison, founder of Trailside Creative.

Kyle Ellison

Principal & Founder

Kyle Ellison is an Industrial Designer, a Maker, a Builder, and an Artist. With an eye for detail, he obsesses over fit, finish, and form.

During his years designing products for the cycling industry, for brands like Giro and Bell Helmets, Kyle gained an expert understanding of fit and ergonomics, as well as both physical and digital sculpting techniques. His love for the outdoors and his attention to detail were a perfect match for his time at YETI Coolers where he helped to broaden the brands reach in both the soft and hard goods categories.

His constant focus on creating delightful and meaningful user experiences has allowed him to design products that have not only won numerous design awards, but more importantly recapture market share, create entirely new categories, build brand reputation, and surpass market projections.

Kyle began his career making helmets in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California and after years of consulting, officially founded Trailside Creative, LLC in Austin Texas in 2018. Trailside is a boutique design and user experience consultancy located in the Texas Hill Country.

Rob Strickler Headshot

Rob Strickler

Sr. Industrial Designer

Rob is an industrial designer with a passion for functional, durable, beautiful products that help make people’s lives better. He started his career as an intern at Whipsaw, working his way up through dozens of projects to become a senior designer, handling clients of all sizes, in fields ranging from consumer electronics to medical equipment.

After Whipsaw, he took a position doing ID and customer field research for a portable communications company servicing several major airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and fire departments.

His broad range of experience puts him in a great position to tackle any project.

Myrna Lewis

Industrial Designer

Myrna is a multidisciplinary designer from Austin, Texas who is intrigued by how people interact with their environment and the products around them, and is dedicated to creating unique, thoughtful and beautiful design solutions. She is a highly adaptable problem solver, carrying a diverse product background into her career so far, including appliance, home goods, tech, user experience and now outdoor product design.

A native Austinite, Myrna spent her summers in the water to beat the heat, and to this day her favorite flavor of outdoors is anything water sports related. Outside of the office you can usually find her kayaking, swimming, floating, or practically anything else water-related. She’s excited to be working to design products that bring more people outside.

Seth Israel

Industrial Designer

Seth is an eager Industrial Designer, recent graduate and new resident of Texas that’s come to appreciate unfamiliar situations whatever the context might be! Whether it’s exploring a new trail with his dog or adjusting to a new modeling software, or even just finding a new birria taco truck – making new discoveries, applying learned lessons and stumbling into those “Ah-Ha!” moments are his greatest treasures.

As a Designer with Trailside Creative he’s keen to experience these profound realizations on a daily basis. Following the extensive Industrial Design program with the University of Kansas, Seth began an internship with Milwaukee Tool where he collaborated with massive talent within their design, engineering, prototyping, and marketing teams. He shifted from the tools sector to the outdoor industry with a vast network of resources, expert insights, and heightened awareness of design processes under his belt. Moving forward, it’s his objective to propose sustainable alternatives and integrate meaningful solutions with clients that envision a better future.

Working in the outdoor products sector and designing for active lifestyles with such an incredible team is an exciting journey that he’s very proud to be a part of.

Michelle French

Senior Apparel Designer & Product Developer

Michelle has worked in various apparel design and development roles for emerging and established women, children, and menswear brands. In her current position at the Fashion Incubator, she manages all of the Gerber technology and equipment, and collaborates with emerging design businesses to launch products that are meeting design, market, and cost requirements. Her expertise in creating product development and production systems came from her experience managing and working with sewn goods manufacturers. Her passion for sustainability sparked her interest in Supply Chain Management, which gave her greater awareness for the journey her designs would take and their global impact – from the materials used, the people manufacturing them, the people wearing them, and their effect on the environment at the end of their lifecycle. Supply chain has allowed her to hone in on her ability to purposefully design and support product goals, seeing them through from concept to fulfillment.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Textiles and Apparel Design from the University of Texas at Austin and a Business Foundations Certificate from the McCombs School of Business. She is a member of APICS and is a Certified Supply Chain Professional.

Garrett Kettler

Business Development Lead

Garrett is a well-rounded outdoorsman with a diverse product development skillset. His background in mechanical engineering and product-based entrepreneurship supports his consultative approach to new client projects. Garrett stewards client projects through development with a strategic and holistic mindset.

With a wide range of outdoor interests, he intuitively understands user scenarios and the nuances within the various markets our clients serve. Equally comfortable in a mountain town coffee shop or a southern hunting camp, Garrett speaks the outdoor language and is always excited to make new connections in the industry.

Andy Jones

Sr. Graphic Designer

With over 20 years of experience, Andy has spent time working with and for top Action Sports Brands and industry-leading designers, including brands such as Fox Racing, RockShox, O’Neill, and Bell Helmets. Andy’s background includes product CMF design and direction, creating communication presentations for marketing teams, and branding style guides. He is passionate about color, materials, and finishes as they range from fashion to architecture to consumer products, and he is extremely knowledgeable about the production processes for various textiles, paints, and plastics.

Andy has helped develop everything from early conceptual ideas to full season product launches. As a team oriented and collaborative individual, he excels at managing relationships with clients, sub-contractors and suppliers. And he has an in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing processes required to bring designs to life.

With his background and work ethic, Andy is an asset to any team.

Rachel Benyola

Startup Support Team

Rachel is a part of the Trailside Creative Startup Support Team.

Rachel can assist with:

  • Startup coaching
  • Pitchdeck build and review
  • Pitch Presentation coach and review
  • Business Strategy consulting

Rachel coaches leaders and startup founders to business plan, negotiate contracts and equity positions, design for manufacturability, hack regulatory standards, increase team efficiency, lean operations, fundraising, emerging talent development and remediate low performance and team conflict. She combines her decade of professional coaching expertise with her experience as a CEO and founder to coach startups comprehensively. You need someone who can advise your startup team to avoid all of the major pitfalls and mistakes that founders make. As she puts it: “I have made many mistakes and still thrived. Learn from the missteps of those before you to set yourself up for success.”

Shawn McVey

Startup Support & Strategic Advisor

Shawn McVey is an advisor, wilderness athlete, and product /brand builder. His approach is based on people and industry connections, both on the operative and athlete sides of the outdoor industry. With a degree in Business Management and as a strategic advisor Shawn provides insight to company founders, operations, and creatives. Shawn’s approach reviews capital investments, ROE in product, and evaluates long-term customer growth through product design, ambassador roles, and content strategy.  Specializing in operations, product, ambassador content, and scalability, Shawn brings a unique position to companies as a brand stakeholder. He and his teams are constantly field testing and can provide feedback on what works and what does not meet expectations in the field.  Shawn delivers vital insight on product development and design while bringing in teams to prototype, implement, and drive design in a variety of outdoor verticals. Land, sea, water, mountain, jungle.

With years of experience in the industry, as a brand builder, taking an athlete-first approach. He has a passion for family, sustainability, and developing the outdoors industry for American business. As an advisor, he brings a wealth of real-world knowledge and practical experience to all product development and business decisions. Shawn’s friends and community continue to push the narrative of what’s possible in the world of outdoor adventure. When he’s not in the office or planning his next expedition, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids.

Jaimi Jansen

Startup Support Team

Jaimi can assist with:

  • Startup coaching
  • Business Systems Management
  • Team Management Training
  • Business Strategy consulting
  • Health and Wellness Industry

Jaimi Jansen is Founder & CEO of Santa Cruz CORE Fitness + Rehab. As a result of a bike accident 10 years ago, she started as an early adopter of the integrative wellness model. She now runs 3 locations that have evolved into a medical company and practice management company. She provides business consulting, management education, marketing solutions, leadership skills, practitioner education, and workplace wellness services.

As a wellness advocate, Jaimi has been recognized nationally as Entrepreneur of the Year (2013 USASBE) and has started consulting, bringing her talents to the wellness industry and beyond. She is currently working with physicians, other medical and business professionals to improve their marketing, business development and organizational skills. Jaimi helps fellow visionaries leverage their time and talent to achieve their goals, and she finds that the greatest healing has come when individuals reach their highest potential.

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