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Changemakers

10 companies led by rad women

These companies keep women front and center, whether their leaders are making comfy clothes for the trail or empowering the next generation of girls.


Everyone knows that some of the outdoor industry’s top brands are led by strong females — Rose Marcario of Patagonia, Sue Rechner of Merrell, Donna Carpenter of Burton, Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, Amy Roberts of Outdoor Industry Association, Deanne Buck of Camber Outdoors, and Marisa Nicholson of Outdoor Retailer. But in celebration of International Women’s Day, we sought out a selection of smaller companies that you may not have heard about or may not have realized are headed by equally amazing gals.

The rad women

Shelma Jun, Flash Foxy Founder

shelma jun flash foxy

At the end of March, more than 300 women will gather in the rocky foothills of Bishop, California, for a weekend packed with climbing, panels and clinics as the first of two events in the third year of the Women’s Climbing Festival. Shelma Jun is behind the fest and the online platform Flash Foxy, which celebrates women getting outside with other women. Jun is a current Access Fund board member and often speaks about the importance of cultivating a climbing community that welcomes everyone who calls themselves a climber.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, Verde Brand Communications CEO and Founder

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With multiple offices throughout the Rockies, Verde Brand Communications is a PR firm that represents outdoor-focused clients like Gu Energy Labs, Gregory, and Petzl, among others. Led by Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, the firm is a member of several outdoor, environmental and socially responsible organizations. Carpenter-Ogden is also the personality behind the Channel Mastery podcast.

Sally Bergesen, Oiselle Founder and CEO

sally bergesen oiselle
Courtesy

Oiselle, a French word for bird pronounced wa-zelle, is a Seattle-based athletic apparel company binding women together through run groups and giving back through various programs. Sally Bergesen started it in 2007 with the goal of making a well-constructed running short, but her original vision has blossomed into a sisterhood for women of all ages and running abilities.

Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp Founder and CEO

alyssa ravasio hipcamp
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Born out Alyssa Ravasio’s frustration over finding an ideal campsite to watch the first sunrise of 2013, Hipcamp was founded in San Francisco, revolutionizing and streamlining the experience of booking an overnight spot in nature. The travel service covers all national, state, regional, and Army Corps Parks in all 50 states — 5,756 parks, 13,421 campgrounds and 329,567 campsites.

Teresa Baker, Founder of the African American National Park Event

Teresa Baker, Founder of the African American National Park Event
Diverse Environmental Leaders

The African American National Park Event founded in 2013 by Teresa Baker, of California, engages communities of color in nature and encourages outdoor entities to prioritize diversity. Several events are held across the country every year. Baker also is an Outdoor Afro leader and blogs about her love of the outdoors at African American Explorations.

Katy Hover-Smoot and Cassie Abel, Wild Rye Founders

Wild Rye founders Katy Hover-Smoot and Cassie Abel
Wild Rye

Wild Rye, a technical apparel design company launched in 2016, makes women-specific pieces in soft fabrics and colors — from a pale aqua merino midweight to a cozy pair of pineapple-colored leggings — that are meant to be worn in the wild. Katy Hover-Smoot and Cassie Abel are avid outdoorswomen, who can be found crushing on trails oftentimes in Tahoe, California.

Chris Ann Goddard, CGPR Founder

Chris Goddard
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A seasoned PR guru with decades of institutional knowledge of the outdoor industry, Chris Ann Goddard leads the 25-year-old agency CGPR. Her team represents multiple big-name outdoor brands, such as Kelty, Adidas, Merrell, Vibram and Winter Park Resort.

Sarah Castle and Alison Wright, The Cairn Project Founders

Cairn Project founders Sarah Castle and Alison Wright
Cairn Project

Founders Sarah Castle and Alison Wright met in Boulder, a mecca for outdoor exploration. Their organization, The Cairn Project, nurtures and empowers girls to be self confident in the outdoors mountain biking, backpacking, mountaineering and more.  They’ve provided $50,000 in grants to eight different partners devoted to expanding access for underprivileged young women.

Jen Gurecki, Coalition Snow CEO

Jen Gurecki, founder of Coalition Snow. Photo courtesy of Coalition Snow.

The skis on the market didn’t cut it for Jen Gurecki and other women she heard from, so in 2013 she ventured out to design a series of skis and snowboards specialized for women, by women — now known as Coalition Snow. Gurecki has a varied background as founder of Zawadisha, a Kenyan-based social enterprise providing small loans to rural women, and is formerly co-owner of a white water rafting outfitter based in Lake Tahoe.

Alison Hill, LifeStraw Managing Director

"smiling white woman with long brown hair"
Photo: Courtesy

LifeStraw does much more than make water filters. The technology introduced in 2005 as a personal “straw-like” filter was designed for people in developing countries without access to safe, clean water. Led in part by Alison Hill, the company under health group Vestergaard has delivered more than 10,000 products. Watch the new video in celebration of reaching 1 million children in Kenya.