Director of Product Development Christina Yeung's Watson Gloves Story

Watson Story – Director of Product Development Christina Yeung

I’ve been working for Watson Gloves for eleven years at the head office in Burnaby, BC. I was hired as a product developer and have recently become the Director of Product Development.

Watson Gloves has been a part of my life since I was very young! I’ve always lived in Vancouver, and my childhood home was in East Vancouver, only three blocks away from Watson Gloves’ original main office! I remember driving by and looking out the window at the Watson logo; I’ll never forget that. My parents were blue-collar workers, and both used Watson Gloves, especially my mom. Every Tuesday, Woodward’s had dollar forty-nine days, we would pile into the car and head into Gastown to buy rubber gloves. Recognizing the Watson Gloves logo, my mom would buy bags full of them! So the logo, the brand, and everything about Watson greatly impacted me ever since I was a child.

Watson Gloves' Original Main Street Offices Circa 2017

Watson Gloves’ Original Main Street Offices, Vancouver

I remember finding the job posting and knowing that I had a lot to bring to the table. My experience was in clothing design and apparel, but at that point in my life, I was ready to transition out of the fashion industry. I wanted a change and, more importantly, to design products that helped people. When I saw the posting, I knew the direction I wanted to take in my career.

“I have a lot of city pride, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work for an established Vancouver institution!”

I had a great first interview with Watson Gloves, and what stuck with me the most was when I was handed a business card at the end. It was the classic Watson business card, with the glove hand that folds over, and I was immediately fascinated by it. I was told that Barrie Moore, the former Chairman, took that business card very seriously; the design, the card stock, the raised stitch lines, everything. The attention to detail was very special. The card is just so iconic, and as a designer, those little details are essential.

Watson Gloves Classic Business Card

Watson Gloves’ Business Card *Circa 2023

At that point, I knew I needed to be part of this company. I thought, “this is going to have my name on it one day.” and now it does! ….that being said, we’re now in the process of phasing them out to be more sustainable, which is fantastic, and I know the same care and effort will be in the design of the new version!

Starting work with Watson felt great because they trusted my work history and what I could do. They allowed me to, with my previous apparel experience, play a big role in building out my position and provided me with the autonomy to begin creating processes within the product development department.

One of those processes is our seasonal development calendar which we use for our yearly planning. Every year we go through the same process; analyze customer feedback and emerging trends, review our product gap analysis, identifying opportunities for rolling changes, innovating the core, and adding new sustainable elements per our just cause. It’s cool to see how things have evolved.

“Quality since 1918, we have a HUGE tagline to live up to, you know!”

The company has really put a focus on product and the product team was given the autonomy to innovate to continue to stay competitive in the market. We’re in a really good spot, and I feel as though we have become leaders in the industry. We couldn’t have done all we’ve done without the leadership team’s support! They went department by department, ensuring people leaders were well supported and given what they/we needed to succeed, whether training for personal growth, expanding teams or organizational changes!

• So you felt supported!?

Yes, because we have clarity, good direction, and an excellent base to help us move forward comfortably. The success we’ve found through product development is just a by-product of all the internal work we’ve done as a team and an organization.

Gloves were there; gloves will happen no matter what, but how well we’re able to launch the gloves, at the speed at which we launch them, and choosing the right ones to launch can only happen if the organization is ready to support every process. Servicing the customer, bringing in the right inventory, it’s everything. It all has to work together.

• Can you tell me the story of Watson Gloves’ sustainability journey (so far)?

There have been many aspects in the creation of our sustainability journey, and I remember the exact moment it came up for me; we were sitting in an Irish pub in Düsseldorf, Germany, with Kasey (Whitman), Marty (Moore), and Laura (Whitlock). We had just finished walking the A+A safety show, and Kasey said, “why do you wake up to come to work every day?” My answer was easy, “Knowing a product we worked on has saved a person from getting debilitatingly injured, and they can continue to work, providing for their family and themselves.”

He looked at me and said, “What if we take it to the next level? What if we did something to leave the company, this planet, and our products better than we found it for the next generation?” This is the legacy that the Moore Family feels passionate about and how our just cause came to be.

We’re not just adding a sustainable glove made from plastic bottles because it’s the thing to do – no, it is literally written as our just cause, so it’s part of what we do every day. It’s pretty exciting to see that we’ve been able to divert over 3 million post consumer recycled plastic bottles from landfills through developing our WasteNot™ yarn. Within our department, we’re always thinking about making every glove more sustainable. In the office, how do we make daily work more sustainable?

National Safety Council's 'Best in Show' 2022 New Product Showcase Awards

Our sustainable ANSI A4 Cut Resistant 379 Stealth Phoenix won ‘Best in Show’ in the gloves category and 3rd place overall at the National Safety Council 2022 New Product Showcase.

• What are you most proud of?

I am really proud of how far Watson has come over the last eleven years. It’s cool being part of a company that cares so much about its people! Leadership makes a real effort to ensure we’re all communicating and that we’re supported in our personal growth. It’s incredible for any hundred (+) year old family company to achieve what Watson has achieved internally. If you had asked me twenty years ago if I would have seen myself as a director of product development in an industrial glove company, I would have been like, “are you kidding!?”

• What is one of the most memorable glove designs you’ve worked on?

I’d be doing a disservice to my Watson heritage if I didn’t mention the 010BK; the first glove I ever was a part of designing here at Watson. That glove has come a long way, and after multiple iterations and eight years of working on it, we’ve finally nailed it!

010BK Extreme Camo High Performance Impact Protection Gloves
Director of Product Development Christina Yeung's Watson Gloves Story

Christina’s Most Recent Design of the 010BK *Circa 2023

• What is next?

It’s getting the next generation interested in the work that we have started – it excites me to work with a team who’s passionate about glove design and will continue the legacy.

Watson Gloves has a collaboration with the Wilson School of Product Design, where I am privileged to serve on the product design advisory committee. They have a product design class where the students spend one-semester designing gloves. We go in there and assess them, give guidance, and help shape their design process. The most exciting part is that we get to see their work from design to completion, and it’s so cool. I would love to continue to work with local design schools and get them as excited as I am.

Gloves, and design, in general, are just the conduit through which we get to express our passions. I’m a practical person, so I like practical designs. So how do I make a glove functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time? Not to mention fitting it all in the limited amount of space we have to work with (the size of a hand). It needs to function, and we must do it within a certain price point! It forces you to be creative! People need to know that this is an industry that’s innovating, creating really awesome products, and having a lot of fun in the process.

Watson Gloves' Original Main Street Offices Circa 2017

Watson Gloves’ Original Vancouver Main Street Offices 10 Years After Moving Out *Circa 2017