Outdoor Retailer: Condensed Overview

Outdoor Retailer came, and then it was gone, nearly as fast as that.

My first OR experience was a collision of ideas, free beer, and networking. The week started on Tuesday where I attended Camber Outdoors “Pitchfest.” Pitchfest exists for female entrepreneurs to get their product/business in front of a board of influential members in the outdoor community. Each finalist had five minutes to give their pitch, and then the panel questioned them for seven minutes.

Following Pitchfest, I went to join my fellow Outdoor Women’s Alliance team at The Front Climbing Gym for a Wine, Dine, and Climb event.  The keynote speaker, Shelma Jun of Flash Foxy, made a group of us wonder how much more effective it would be if she were speaking in front of mixed company. Her speech essentially reinforced ideas we’ve been thinking and talking about for months. (It also lead me to dive deeper into the role female-only organizations are playing in the outdoor world…more on that later.)

Two out of town friends, Sara and Emma, stayed on my couch for the week. We woke up early on Wednesday to attend the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) breakfast, with former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel speaking, as well as Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, and Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Some clips from the breakfast:

Sally Jewel: “There’s a lot of problems with [President Trump’s] review…President Trump is putting himself on the wrong side of history. If he acts to revoke National Monuments, he will go down as one of the most anti-conservation presidents in the history of this nation. Our National Parks, our National Monuments, our public lands are what helps make this nation great.”

Gov. Steve Bullock: “Transferring those lands out of public hands would be damn foolish, not only for today but for future generations as well.”

The breakfast left me in a sober mood. Starting in 2018, Outdoor Retailer will no longer make it’s home in Utah due to our government continually refuting the value of public lands, which lead to outrage in the outdoor industry. At the OIA breakfast, despite the recent tension between Utah and the outdoor industry, terms like positivity, graciousness, and opportunity, created a theme that was easy to track throughout the week.

I spent a good amount of time wandering around the floor, checking out new products, and making connections. I quickly realized, though, that Outdoor Retailer exists for companies to meet with other companies, for contracts to be formed, and for new relationships to be forged. Though I fell into the latter category, I often felt out of place.

After speaking with Sarah Smith, founder of The Dyrt, I realized this feeling is normal, and almost essential when first attending OR. In many ways, it helps fuel you forward. For me, it projected some future goals, like coming to OR as someone in the outdoor industry. I can’t, however, expect that to happen overnight.

OR has an exhaustive, infectious energy. I volunteered at the Gregory Packs booth, and was constantly ferrying people to and from meetings. We had a steady stream of vendors, exhibitors, buyers, guests, and non-buyers, coming by the booth asking to speak with so-and-so, wishing to drop off business cards, or asking if we had anything for free. OR was capitalism at work.

This is a compressed version of Outdoor Retailer. It doesn’t include the panels, the This Land is Our Land march, nor can it honestly capture the post OR exhaustion. These topics will all come later, as they each deserve their own space.

Overall, I am so thankful for my first OR experience. The generosity shown to me from professionals in the industry, the connections with media I formed, and insightful conversations for a path moving forward were worth every hour of sleep I lost.

Cheers to OR January 2018 at it’s new Denver home.

 

New Year, New Tribe

The problem, ultimately, isn’t that there aren’t enough options in retail stores, it’s that there aren’t enough women getting out and charging.

As 2016 comes to an end (can you even believe it?), and we all start making our new years resolutions and thinking about the people we are now, versus the people we were a year ago, versus the people we want to become, I want to plant a seed.

I often hear and read about complaints from women in the outdoors that they want more options for gear. We are all frustrated with the lack of options for women’s technical gear, the discrepancy in options between men and women’s climbing shoes, and ultimately the variety of what we can purchase in the store to protect us all outside.

I get it.

The other day, though, I started thinking that we’ve been wanting a band-aid cure. We just want the outdoor companies to meet our needs (which is fair). We want to feel represented and to have them recognize that woman can, and do, charge just as hard as men. I’m not here to belittle that. AT ALL. We woman are powerhouses and we have come so far in the outdoor industry. Kudos to us.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0118.JPG

Beyond that, we’re living in an incredible time where organizations like SheJumps, And She’s Dope Too, Bold Betties, She Shreds Co, Chicks with Picks (and on and on and on) are hosting meet-ups, and planning rendezvous’, and organizing all women’s AIARE courses.

Because of this, I think the answer and the push to getting more technical gear for women is in the works. From a marketing and monetary stand point, for a long time it didn’t make sense to stock the floor with technical gear for women. Think about it, whatever REI puts on the floor is a direct representation of their customers wants/needs. So yeah, there is a growing number of us who want/need a bigger variety of technical gear, but there are also a lot of women who don’t need alpine bibs or expedition mitts.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0076.JPG

Here’s what I’m saying: in 2017 we need to be more vigilant in inviting our friends outside. The problem, ultimately, isn’t that there aren’t enough options in retail stores, it’s that there aren’t enough women getting out and charging. We need more women doing more awesome things in the outdoors. The easiest and best way to do this is to find your tribe of badass woman and hit the trails and crags and slopes, and encourage them (as they’ll encourage you) to challenge themselves–to climb the harder route, to ski the black diamond, to spend five days in the wilderness. Since I moved to Salt Lake City, I’ve met so many woman (most who also just moved here) that want to get outside, but don’t know where to start. It’s so easy and fun and exciting to invite someone along on your adventure. My climbing gym gives me a free pass every month, and it’s usually spent introducing someone to climbing.

img_6430

So go ahead, write it on your list of resolutions in 2017. Let this next year be a year that women continue to encourage other women to get outside, face their demons, and overcome challenges. We’ll all be the better for it.