By: Lisa Slagle, owner & creative director
I've always had mostly male friends.
As a classic tomboy, it seems funny to me that now, in my early thirties, my main rallying cry is to help the outdoor industry be more inclusive toward women.
This is the staple of my creative agency right now and also why I'm starting a creative action sports workshop series called Wheelhouse Workshops with a mission to get more cameras into the hands of women.
Women are awesome.
I think I started surrounding myself in women within the last five years because it became an option. Something shifted in the industry. More women started showing up at trailheads and lift lines and boardrooms. One woman would hire us to help launch her business, and then she would tell all her friends, and they would hire us, and so on. Now we have a loyal following of hilarious, talented, visionary women that we get to call clients and friends.
I also go out of my way to hire women. Lawyer. Bookkeeper. CPA. Human Resources Consultant.
In-house at Wheelie, every time we post a job, we always receive TONS of resumes from women and just a handful from men. Perhaps contrary to the ethos of the Mad Men era of agency life, I love hiring women who have kids. In my experience as an employer, no breed of human kicks more ass or runs better logistics than a mom with little kids to feed. Moms get shit done.
Outdoor brands often ask us how to look cool to women, verbatim. We get this question a lot, and increasing female brand engagement has become one of our most popular services at Wheelie.
I think this is both hilarious and wonderful. It seems like common sense that if you want women to think your brand is cool, then be cool to them. Much of this can be accomplished through photography. Show women riding their bikes, not standing next to them. Show women of different shapes, colors, and perspectives using your products.
Meet women where they are as individuals, not as a clump in your business plan labeled "women." Unclump us. No one likes clumps.
And so, because Q4 is wrapping up and 2018 is a fresh start, here are:
5 EASY THINGS OUTDOOR BRANDS CAN DO TO APPEAL TO WOMEN IN 2018:
1. Make gear for us.
We get it. No money goes into women's gear because no women are buying your gear. Break the trend. This is a vicious cycle, and you have the power to stop it, but you have to invest in women before they will be loyal to your brand.
2. Give us options.
The industry now knows that we want more than black or pink. Last year, the industry all decided all women wanted teal. Teal helmets. Teal shorts. Teal ski pants. It looked like a uniform. We all rocked teal with teal. Better than pink. Okay.... what about your brand? What kind of options in size, color, fit, pattern, and ergonomics can you present that are unique to the experience of using your gear? And which shorts in your line will specifically fit not just the female body, but my body? What are you doing to your products to provide versatility due to the uniqueness of every person's shape?
3. Show photos that are not exclusively of outdoorsy blonde women.
I fall into this category. Just the right amount of messy, blonde wisps frame my face under the brim of my trendy trucker hat. I look like every "classic outdoor woman" stereotype and have even been on a billboard or two because of it. But this is old. Appeal to a wider audience by showing Latina women or African American women or moms or crushing it. Diversity is more than just an old, old wooden ship.
4. Don't assume "Women's" means "Beginner."
This is the worst. But here's the thing and why this is a tricky one-- sometimes women are beginners. That's the importance of diversity and acquiring new customers and the meaning behind #EveryonesOutdoors. Everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone has been a beginner. But not all women are beginners. Some are intermediate. Some are advanced. Some are elite. Some are uninterested. Make sure you have an offering to meet each woman where she's at. I can't say that enough. This comes back to the unclumping from earlier.
5. Hire women.
First of all, hire the best person for the job. But also, make sure your company culture attracts women so that you get talent that also happens to be female. You can do this by following steps 1 through 4 internally as well as externally. Our friends at Camber Outdoors have a job board where you can post your jobs to attract female talent in the industry.
If you and your brand need some help for including women in your brand in 2018,
call us: 406-862-1440
email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
stop by: We have offices in Denver, Colorado and Whitefish, Montana
(addresses in the footer of this site)
Follow us on Instagram: @wheeliecreative