This is an exciting time to be a woman who thrives in the outdoors. Our role is a dynamic one—it’s coming in and out of focus as we choose which boots we want to fill. The past decade has brought about exponential growth in the number of women who want to create products and services for women. This is what this our film documentary, “Venturous Voices,” is all about.
Starting a business is as hard as it is rewarding. It’s rife with friction. It’s working into the night and reminding yourself to celebrate the smallest of victories. It’s wrapping your whole heart around a problem because you know it can be solved. And it’s not so different from the challenges we face in the outdoors. If you’re reading this, you probably enjoy stepping outside. You live and breathe the demands relevant to your skill set. Why? Because the prize of the mountain view or perfect swell or fluffy powder is sweeter for that discomfort.
My partner Jessie Davis and I set out to make a film about entrepreneurial women in the outdoor industry because we were curious. We’ve been quietly watching a movement of women-led businesses within the outdoor space that we love and we noticed that it was part of a trend that transcended industry. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 45% in the last ten years. This is five times that of businesses nationwide, and while this is a thrilling statistic, we couldn’t find any research about the outdoor industry. We decided to seek out the voices of the venturous women who are carving out the change they want to see in the outdoors.
While conceptualizing the documentary in the fall of 2015, Jessie and I started a spreadsheet of businesses. We walked the halls of the big Outdoor Retailer show and scoured the internet for female entrepreneurs. It was slow at first. We feared that maybe these women didn’t exist. But as time passed and our knowledge of the industry grew, the rows in the spreadsheet accumulated. We narrowed down our subjects to the voices of four venturers who are representative of the future of the outdoor industry.
Alyssa Ravasio: The Problem Solver
Founder of the technology startup, Hipcamp. She wanted a better way to book a campsite online, so she learned how to code. And when she realized public campgrounds were getting crowded, she reached out to private landowners to create new campsites. Alyssa’s drive is contagious.
Jenny Amaraneni and Dana Holliday: The Humanitarans
The co-founders of SOLO eyewear are selling sustainably made sunglasses so they can help fund eyecare in developing countries. Their partnership keeps them moving forward, even through the lows that are so emblematic of entrepreneurship.
Chelsea Griffie: The Guide
Growing up near Chicago, Chelsea didn’t have easy access to the outdoors. As a result, she’s devoted her life to bridging the gap for others through her nonprofit, Los Angeles Wilderness Training. Chelsea has found that starting a nonprofit is a lot like starting a business, and while she doesn’t have as much time for rock climbing as she used to, the rewards are equally satisfying.
Jeanine Pesce: The Futurist
Jeanine has an eye for what’s next, and she brings that insight to her outdoor trend consultancy and print magazine, RANGE. She identified the “modern outdoorswoman” in early 2015 because she wanted to see more brands talking to creative women living in urban environments. As a mother to a young daughter, she’s continually recalibrating her work/life balance.
As filmmakers and entrepreneurs ourselves, filming these women was a little like looking in the mirror. We too work long hours. We have scraped the bottom of our checking accounts and been fooled by the false summits of building a life for ourselves. We made “Venturous Voices” partly because we were fascinated by the entrepreneurial psyche and curious to find out if we were alone in our experiences. In making the film and getting to know these five women, we learned that it’s important to stop along one’s venturous trail and take in the view. We gained new appreciation for our support systems. We found that it’s always possible to pivot when nothing is going your way. We learned that if they can do it, so can you.
And we’re thrilled to share their stories with you.