The following Q & A was conducted by Melissa Manseau, founder of Business Mojo, which helps individuals, entrepreneurs, and business professionals follow their passion to prosperity.

Nancy is the founder of Fendler PR, formerly Fendler Communications, a public relations and marketing communications firm she launched in 1988. For over 25 years, Nancy has been a trusted adviser to both emerging and established outdoor, active-lifestyle and ingredient brands helping them generate more awareness and build deeper connections with their customers.

I had the opportunity to ask Nancy a few questions about her new business direction and the some of the problems her company solves.

Q: You’ve repositioned your business to primarily concentrate on ingredient brands. What made you pursue this niche?

A: I grew up in a unique family business where I learned to appreciate some of the most exquisite and ornate materials in the world. I was also on the scene when performance materials hit the ski and outdoor market in the ‘80s (gasp!). It is the materials, and the creative use of them, that bring products to life and give them a story. I believe there’s a need to help ingredient brands identify opportunities and develop strategies that build better connections with their various audiences.

Q: What public relations challenges do you find ingredient brands have?

A: Each brand I work with has its unique set of challenges, however I believe that the common thread is that they are looking for ways to better partner with their customers (product developers, designers, retailers) and engage with and/or develop an emotional connection with end-use consumers.

Q: Do you think consumers are better educated about the materials that go in to the apparel they wear and products they use?

A: Yes, I do for a few reasons. First, outdoor apparel and gear can be costly due to the performance materials that go into making it. As a result manufacturers of these products are more willing to support the use of high-performance materials to help justify the cost. They do this via ingredient hangtags, labels, and other sales materials to help educate the consumer at the retail level. Secondly, ingredient brands are partnering with its various customers in grass roots and/or experiential events to better engage consumers. Lastly, ingredient brands are increasingly more active on social media and connecting directly with consumers on a variety of different platforms.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the "special sauce" that helps ingredient brands stay top of mind?

A: Truly knowing their customers - their wants, likes, dislikes, what keeps them up at night and how they want to be communicated with. And this is not easy, because an ingredient brand’s audience is vast. It includes brand manufactures (designers, product development managers of various industries), retailers, and end-use consumers who have many different interests. Once ingredient brands truly grasp what’s important to audience, they can start creating an emotional connection with their customers. Developing trusted relationships, I believe, is the special sauce.

Q: Are there any outdoor material trends that you can share with us?

A: For spring/summer 15, it’s all about very light-weight, high-performance fabrics used for outerwear. Sustainability is also huge and ranges from responsibly-sourced down and fluorocarbon-free weatherproofing treatments to recycled textiles and anti-odor materials that require less washing.  Hybrid materials are also very big and include interesting wool/synthetic blends for baselayer applications and down/synthetic blends for insulated garments and sleeping bags.