REI Welcomes Ben Steele as Chief Creative Officer

Nov 11, 2014

Leading national outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI has hired Ben Steele as the company’s first chief creative officer. Steele most recently served as executive creative director at Hornall Anderson in Seattle, a globally recognized brand experience design agency with additional offices in London and New York. He will start in his role at REI’s headquarters on January 1, 2015.

Earlier this year, REI announced the decision to search for its first chief creative officer.

“One of the great joys of leading REI is the deep appreciation of our amazing brand and how outdoor stories permeate every part of the co-op experience,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. “Telling these stories in a compelling way is a huge opportunity for us. Ben is a creative, strategic thinker who gets that we have to bring our brand story to life in unconventional ways. He’s going to have a big impact.”

At REI, Steele will lead the company’s creative strategy, bringing to life the brand’s identity as a specialty outdoor lifestyle retailer. He will lead creative across the co-op with a team that will influence physical and digital assets, private brand product development, product assortment and REI’s employment brand.

“I couldn't be more excited about joining the team. As a long-time member, as a brand partner over more than a decade and as a person who loves the experiences REI unlocks, I’m a huge believer in the co-op’s mission. REI is an amazing brand and I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the talented people here to bring to life our mission, purpose and overall experience for anyone who loves the outdoors,” said Steele.

Steele has celebrated successful storytelling and brand design with companies such as Starbucks, Major League Baseball, PepsiCo and Lexus. He studied at the University of Puget Sound and taught at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts.


About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 179 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.