Shop Talk: Hayward Outfitters
Hayward Outfitters is a little mom and pop paddle shop nestled on the coast of the Namekagon River in Hayward, Wis. Owner Jane Montag lives the dream, working alongside her husband and putting people on the water. Here, Montag tells us about running a business with her husband, why SUP is important to her, and an event Hayward Outfitters hosts, Stand Up & Paddle for the Cure. —Rebecca Parsons
SUP mag: Tell me about your background.
Montag: The business actually started when my husband and I moved up here in 2008. I was working for the county and my husband was working for a company that moved to Green Bay. We were kind of forced with, 'what are we going to do?' and we always wanted to do an outfitter business. We love to paddle—we canoe, we kayak, paddleboard, we do trips, and we do rentals; it was always kind of a big thing for us, so we decided to give it a go. This will be our fifth year, we are just enjoying it and we love it. Not very many people actually get to say that they get to do what they love every day.
SUP mag: What's it like runnnig the shop with your husband?
Montag: It's challenging some days. I think the biggest thing that couples need to remember when they're in a business together is setting boundaries on each other's responsibilities. Jim is actually an accountant by trade, so obviously that just falls right under him. I am a design queen, so I'm in charge of marketing and getting things out there. We're real laid-back; our big thing is we want to get people into the paddling mode that fits them the best. It works for us.
SUP mag: How did you first discover SUP?
Montag: When we first opened there was this gentleman who brought some boards around. I was like, 'Ugh the water's so cold up here and I really don't think it's going to take off.' That was four years ago. Now, I'm an instructor. I got my ACA instructor's certificate last year and it's exploding. It's amazing. I personally have found it to be an amazing addition to paddling. I still kayak and canoe, but there's something about standup paddling; it's just another avenue of getting out onto the water.
SUP mag: What about your location makes it a great place to SUP?
Montag: We have the perfect location. We're right on the Namekagon River, which runs through Lake Hayward. It's part of the National Park System, so it's a beautiful area and it's just pristine out there. Then, near us is the third largest body of water in the state of Wisconsin, the Chippewa Flowage. It's full of places to paddle. You can be on that lake every day, all summer, and not even get to paddle to some areas.
SUP mag: What kinds of lessons and tours do you offer?
Montag: My husband is an ACA canoe and kayak instructor, so he gives lessons in that, and I do SUP lessons as well. Our first two years, Jim was doing first-aid training, but we've gotten a little ahead of ourselves the past year or so, so we've had to cut back on some things. My favorite standup paddling experiences are when I get people in the water and I get about halfway through the class, and every single one of my participants has said, 'I could do this all day.'
SUP mag: What types of events are you involved with?
Montag: Our big event is the Stand Up & Paddle for the Cure. It's emotional for me to even talk about it. We had planned on doing an event for a fundraiser and we decided to go with the National Breast Caner Foundation for several reasons: you can give donations to them and then you say, 'I want it to go to mammograms or research, etc.,' so you can actually say where you want the proceeds to go, and that was really appealing to us.
My son joined the navy a few years ago and his officer, Linda Gonzalez, has been like a mother bear to Jack and everybody that's under her. She's just incredible. Last year, Jack called me and said, 'Gonzalez has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She's not going to go on deployment with us.' They had gotten to know her, felt really comfortable with her, and loved working with her. He asked, 'Mom, can we have an event in her honor, in her name?' So I contacted the National Breast Cancer Foundation and they said, 'Yes, you can have an event honoree, absolutely.' So, she is our event honoree. She just finished chemo and she will be going on to radiation in a month or so. She's been an inspiration for us to have the event.
SUP mag: Why is SUP so special?
Montag: It's a way to recalibrate I think. Everybody has a reprieve or a way that they recharge. And paddleboarding, for me, is the ultimate recharging experience. I can't even explain it, I wish I could articulate it, but I definitely feel like I am empowered when I am on a board. I get done paddling and can go back to the rest of the world.