At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier dominates the landscape of a large part of western Washington state.
It is no surprise when you hear people in the Puget Sound ask “is the mountain out?” you know right away the mountain they’re referencing is Mount Rainier. It was love at first sight when we first saw the Rainier Watch Instagram account @mtrainierwatch. A gallery entirely devoted to showcasing images of our favorite mountain? We had to know more so we connected with the founder behind the popular hashtag #RainierWatch.
Who is behind the popular Instagram account Rainier Watch?
Hi there, my name is David and I’m the founder of the Rainier Watch community. I like to describe Rainier Watch as an online community of Rainier lovers and watchers. There are many elements to the RW Community, in addition to sharing epic photos of Rainier on Instagram, RW is also a community-driven, crowd-sourced effort to share when The Mountain is out in the PNW. Our Twitter and IG Stories are the primary sources to find out when The Mountain is out but we’ve also got some future projects like using SMS and machine learning in this effort to inform everyone when and if The Mountain is out. Also, of course, there’s the RW Shop, home of some awesome Rainier-inspired apparel like hats, shirts, sweatshirts, and stickers. Proceeds from the shop help cover costs of the community and fund giveaways; we love teaming up with local brands, artists and photographers to giveaway prints, artwork, and other Mountain related things. Giving back to the community is important to me and RW also gives back to organizations preserving Mount Rainier by donating a portion of profits made from the RW Shop.
When did you first start the Instagram Feed?
Rainier Watch actually started on Twitter back in 2013 after I moved back to Seattle and was awestruck by the glory of The Mountain when Rainier was out. So I would often tweet when I saw Rainier out on my commute. It wasn’t until 2017 that Rainier Watch joined the Instagram world (full credit to my wife for this idea) and since then it’s grown very quickly thanks to an awesome community and submissions from many excellent photographers who have captured Rainier’s beauty well.
It takes effort to constantly curate and share a gallery of images. Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to managing these Rainier oriented platforms?
You are definitely right about it being a lot of work. Back in the early stages of the Instagram account I honestly spent several hours a day to curate, collect and ask permission for photographs of Rainier to post. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to build a strong knit and fun Instagram community that is authentic and genuine. I love Mount Rainier and I also love community. I am one of those people who audibly exclaim when Rainier is out; even though I’ve seen Rainier in thousands of photos and hundreds of times in real life. It never gets old. I love that there’s now a community of people who will share when The Mountain Is Out. One those beautiful days when Rainier is out, dozens of people will often tag @MtRainierWatch on Twitter and Instagram Stories, which RW shares with the community. It’s great fun!
What was the inspiration behind the project?
I can’t say there’s one single source of inspiration for Rainier Watch because it’s such a multi-faceted project, there’s a lot of design, marketing, photography, product, web development, social media management and community building that goes into it. RW has grown so much over the years, especially with regards to the apparel side of things. I started years ago with just selling stickers to help support the growth of the brand and I’m really excited to design more apparel for folks who love Mount Rainier.
What do you wish more people knew about Rainier Watch?
That is a tricky question and I’m not sure of the best answer. There’s a lot of processes behind the scenes when it comes to Rainier Watch especially with regards to the apparel on the RW Shop. Before an item lands on the RW Shop, it usually goes through several rounds of design iteration, then comes choosing the best product (fabric, colors, etc.) for the design. After that, we get some samples and do a lot of product testing to ensure a high standard of quality. Finally comes marketing the item and product photography. Sometimes an item flops because, without a lot of sales, the cost of producing the samples makes the item unprofitable. It’s tricky to manage the apparel side of things but it’s a fun challenge I love taking on and I’ve seen my apparel design and product skills increase a lot over time.