JanSport cofounder to speak at Washburn

Kendra Ward

Skip Yowell, cofounder of JanSport, will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Washburn Room of Memorial Union. Yowell is also the author of “A Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder and other Mountains,” which came out January 2007.

Kay Farley, director of the Washburn Bookstore, thought Yowell would be a great speaker for Washburn students. This is the first lecture that she initiated herself, after attending a previous Yowell lecture.

“I walked away with a feeling that the only thing that holds you back is you,” said Farley.

Though Yowell keeps busy speaking at various universities, he made time to come to Washburn and even agreed to waive his fee. After Farley began the process the Washburn Student Government Association showed interest. Vince Bowhay, WSGA president, is in charge of coordinating Yowell’s lecture. Yowell is speaking for free, Bowhay said, because he has an invested interest in Kansas towns.

“[Yowell] comes from a small Kansas town and he likes to promote that kind of atmosphere and show that you can become more than what’s expected coming from a small town,” said Bowhay.

Since they will not have to pay a speaker’s fee WSGA will instead invest in advertising for the event, particularly in the form of posters. During the lecture Yowell will give away two or three backpacks, and there will be drawings for other prizes.

“A Hippie Guide” follows how Yowell went from having a love for mountain climbing to become the vice president of global public relations in the country’s number one backpack company.

According to Farley, his hobby of mountain climbing led to a need for equipment that would be strong enough to withstand all the mountains he climbed, including Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest. In 1967 he and a colleague set out to create a very sturdy hiking pack and they started JanSport, which has even branched out to a clothing line.

“Skip has a real compassion for people our age,” said Bowhay. “And his book is phenomenal.”