June 26, 2022
If you've been following along on our social media pages, you've gotten to know Becca & Asya. These ladies have been essential in all things Xplorer Maps this summer. Read more about their time spent here in Western Montana!
Just like my dad, the co-founder and artist of Xplorer Maps, I have always had a passion for art and all things creative. As I became older, I became more interested in the work he does; so we started discussing and scheming ways in which I could slot myself into the family business. After my first year of university, I had the summer free and felt it was the perfect time to head to Missoula and throw myself into everything Xplorer. Luckily for me, my long-time friend, Asya, was also able and keen to join me on the adventure. So here we are in Missoula ready to jump into the Robitaille family company!!
WEEK 1: BECCA
Our first week here was such a whirlwind of excitement and xploration. We arrived late at night and the very next day Xplorer Maps partnered with a local non-profit (Ecology Project International) in downtown Missoula for First Friday; our first glimpse into what our time here could be. We explored downtown and met some other Xplorer Maps team members! The excitement didn’t stop and throughout the first week we also took a road trip up to Kalispell and hiked up to Holland Falls with Julie’s (my aunt) daughter and her family, which immediately immersed us in the landscapes of Montana.
Our first week included A LOT of product stickering in the warehouse, which Asya and I quickly realized was a task we loved, as we could chit chat, play music or listen to a podcast all day (shout out to ‘Office Ladies’) - just ideal! We dreamed up ideas with the two social media and communications gals on the team of what Asya and I could get up to and create while we’re here, and lemme just say, there are so many exciting things happening on the media platforms, especially the TikTok!!!
@xplorermaps Packing up and prepping some shot glasses to be sent #asmr #packingasmr #packingorders #fyp #explore #shotglasses #smallbuisness ♬ original sound - xplorermaps
WEEK 2: BECCA
By the second week we were far more familiar with the warehouse, and I found this super exciting. I've always experienced the company through my dad's lens - the illustration and creation of each map, however, now I’m getting a sense of everything else that goes on after the artwork is done; which has been so much fun. Gradually, we’re now beginning to get into some art and sketching. I'm feeling super inspired after chats with Dad and Greg and getting insight into the business. Who knows what direction the art will go, but we’re having fun working on some pieces and getting creative.
Asya and I quickly decided that we wanted to be more independent, and after hearing about Free Cycles Missoula, decided we would become those fit, sustainable girlies who bike everywhere. We volunteered for a bit cleaning up bikes, then were able to choose and build our very own bikes for free. The two of us returned to Free Cycles soon again for their Friday night concert featuring local bands, which was a blast!
WEEK 3: BECCA
Our third week here was filled with less work and more play. Asya and I are now oh-so-confident riding our bikes and getting our way around Missoula, and such a fab time checking out all the thrift stores. Needless to say our suitcases will be leaving far fuller!! A highlight of the week and trip so far was going to the Kettlehouse Amphitheatre to see Bastille. Immediately we fell in love with the venue - I mean what's not to love? The crowd was great and the vibes immaculate.
This week was also Xplorer Map’s first ever warehouse sidewalk sale! This was such a fun and special opportunity to experience something new with the whole team at Xplorer, and not only was it great food, but the event itself made me so proud of the family part of the business. I chatted with a customer who came by and talking about the story of XM’s history and Dad’s amazing artwork, filled me with so much pride.
Alongside Greg and Julie, we spent a rainy Sunday evening at the Roxy and watched ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’, a film none of us knew anything about except for the extreme positive hype surrounding it. If you’ve seen the film, you know it's probably hard to come up with any solid things to say about it except, WHAATTT? And WOOWW!, but the film certainly kept us all theorising and debating for the rest of the night over ice cream!
@xplorermaps Ride into work with us on a sunny day ☀️ #explore #bike #montana ♬ As It Was - Harry Styles
Now approaching a month of us being in Missoula, and I’ve been loving getting further into creating art. I did numerous different paintings this week and am excited about the possibilities of where these experiments could lead us.
A highlight of the week was joining in the pride parade with Asya, Emily-Rose, and her friend Marley. We went downtown and explored the festivities before handing out Xplorer maps and Pride stickers!! There were so many incredible outfits and the feeling of community and inclusivity was such a joy to be a part of.
The idea to come to Missoula and work first came about when Becca and I were at the Maddy one winter night in Toronto. She told me that she was coming here to work for her uncle Greg at Xplorer Maps for the summer. Being able to visit a new place and work sounded like such a great opportunity and would be so fun to be able to experience together. The next thing I knew I was booking my ticket with Becca to Missoula, Montana! I’m so excited to get working in the warehouse, working with Becca’s dad (Chris), who happens to be the artist behind Xplorer Maps, creating art and helping with the social media side of the brand!
Our first week in Missoula was filled with exploring and hard work! Becca and I visited Flathead Lake with her Aunt Julie and Uncle Greg. It was stunning and the drive up helped us get a feel for the landscape that we would be living in for the next two months; it was so pretty! On Monday, we got to work and met everyone in the warehouse. Our first job was to sticker products that were being shipped out to various stores. This task seemed mundane at first but getting into a rhythm and being able to chat with Becca made our first day fly by.
Greg was very keen on us truly integrating with the Missoula community so he suggested we visit Free Cycles, a non-profit that allows people to build their own bikes out of parts that are donated. Becca and I opted to volunteer for 90 minutes (you can choose to donate $30 instead) so that we could begin the process of choosing and fixing up a bike. So far, the bikes have gotten us everywhere we’ve needed to go and have been so fun to get around on!
This week Becca and I started brainstorming ideas for what we wanted to create while we were here. We had a meeting with Chris and Greg so that we were guided in the right direction. It’s been such a great experience getting to explore our creative ideas for Xplorer Maps and turn our vision into reality. During our second week, we got to see so much more of Missoula culture: we walked around campus, visited the farmers market and saw two bands play at Free Cycles! Another highlight was seeing the documentary ‘Writing with Fire’ at the Roxy with Greg and Julie who are members so we got free popcorn refills!
@xplorermaps Spot our pouch tote 👀 #supportlocal #missoula #fyp #peopleandplace #travel #maps #totebag #farmersmarket #flatheadlake ♬ My Kind of Woman - Instrumental - Mac DeMarco
Our third week in Missoula has so far been the most fun! Becca and I saw Bastille and Alice Merton at the Kettlehouse Amphitheatre, not only was it one of the best concerts I have ever been to, the Kettlehouse is the most beautiful venue I have ever been to!
On Tuesday Becca and I decided to visit the thrift stores of Missoula, where we found some of the most amazing pieces of clothing we will ever own. We also went on a hike this week up the Rattlesnake which was beautiful as all the wildflowers have just started to bloom!
We went back to the Roxy this week for more popcorn and another movie! We saw ‘Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’, which Greg did not have a single thought on but seemed to evoke lots of emotions out of all of us!
We’ve been in Missoula for a month now! Time has flown by, I can’t believe I have to leave in two weeks, I’m going to miss everyone so much. Becca and I spent the beginning of this week focusing on getting some art done. I finished one piece that I was happy with and began attempting to draw a bird but soon realized that birds were probably not one of my artistic strengths but I will keep persevering. On Thursday Julie hosted all the teachers at the school for their annual party. Becca and I helped with food prep and set up. The party was a success and we enjoyed all the food that everyone brought! Saturday was the Pride parade where we met Emily-Rose and her friend Marley to hand out Xplorer Maps stickers and join in on the festivities! Overall, this week was the perfect amount of work and play, I can’t wait to see what this next week brings us!
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