Kent, Wash.-based retailer REI will debut its first feature-length film tomorrow, a project created through the company’s new production arm, REI Co-op Studios. The film, “Camp Yoshi,” follows the journey of Rashad Frazier, a Black outdoorsman and chef who builds a program to “curate custom outdoor adventures centered around shared meals.”
In a teaser released last week, REI Co-op Studios hinted at a project with lots of heart and a clear message.
After moving to Oregon and falling in love with the ability to explore the outdoors with ease with his wife and two daughters, Rashad Frazier knew he had to extend the invitation to others. Driven by the magic of his experiences, his background as a chef, and his love of good food and connecting people to incredible places that open up to conversation, he created Camp Yoshi, which curates custom outdoor adventures centered around shared meals and shared experience with the goal of creating a space for Black people and allies to unplug and in turn reconnect with the wilderness. By virtue of being in these places, Camp Yoshi’s trips transform historically segregated spaces into safe havens for community, conversation and nourishment.
The film premieres tomorrow on YouTube.
REI bets on original content
Earlier this year, REI announced the launch of REI Co-op Studios, the retailer’s new content production company that specializes in films, podcasts, and editorial programs meant to “explore the power of time spent outside, while complementing the co-op’s broader racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitments.” The announcement, along with comments from company leadership, hinted at a new media strategy for the co-op—one that focuses on original content with community-focused messaging.
“The outdoors is for everyone, and content is a powerful and relevant way to bring that belief to our members and new audiences,” REI director of content and media Paolo Mottola told Outside Business Journal. “We are producing films and entertainment that help more people see themselves outside through a wide array of outside activities, communities, and lived experiences. As part of the co-op’s ongoing commitment to racial equity and climate action, the studio will prioritize storytelling from people and communities that are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ, women, and any other historically underrepresented groups as well as stories that reflect the human impact and opportunity to protect the environment.”
REI Co-op Studios has announced a string of new projects for the coming months, including:
- A new podcast series examining U.S. national parks through the eyes of a Pakistani American.
- A digital show featuring James Beard award-winning chef and climber Maria Hines, which “explores the intersection of nutritious food, outdoor sports, and the environment.”
- A relaunch of the REI Co-op Journal as “Uncommon Path,” a digital publication that “unpacks the ideas, issues, and experiences that shape the relationship between people and life outside.”