What if your love for travelling, the outdoors and adventure sports could make you money?
We decided to talk with three women that have made the choice to do exactly that: create enterprises that cater to outdoor-loving ladies.
Whether it's vintage clothes or recycled wool blankets, these woman have launched some really cool UK based businesses.
We ask all three what inspired them to get entrepreneurial...
Dee Dee O'Connell, The Brokedown Palace
Dee Dee’s outdoors shop in Shoreditch, London, is named after the shed in her back garden.
“I live by the Lee Valley on the banks of the river Lee," she explains, “We've got a little garden where we built a cabin to work out of. We called it The Brokedown Palace, a name which is from a Grateful Dead song about being by the river."
When Dee Dee and her “life/business partner" Ian started their store in 2012 – which sells brands like Poler, Patagonia and Fjällräven plus smaller UK products such as Creamore Mill – it was a purely online affair.
Now, due to their success, the palace has a shopfront in Boxpark, a pop-up shopping mall in East London.
Dee Dee grew up in Yorkshire, camping, cycling, kayaking and generally being a badass
Dee Dee used to run a business selling vintage clothes. But she soon realised that she wanted to do something a little more in tune with her passion for the outdoors.
Growing up near the Ikley moors in Yorkshire meant she spent much of her childhood camping, cycling, kayaking and generally being a badass.
She’s just back from hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, and her next trip will be to the Scottish Highlands.
Her number one area to explore, however, is still inside the M25. “My favourite place I've been in the world is the Lee Valley," she grins.
So when your job has so much in common with your hobbies, is keeping things separate difficult?
“It's really difficult to switch off from work when you're in your own space, especially when there's so many crossovers," Dee Dee admits. “I think I'd like to be more disciplined about it. We don't sit at home talking about sales figures though."
Although it can be difficult for her to find the right work/life balance, it’s hard to look at Dee Dee – who always seems cheery – and not want to immediately have a go in the world of outdoor retail.
She talks animatedly about her commitment to ethical products, and how eventually she wants to make sure the store’s stock is 50/50 male to female.
“The brands don't have as strong an offering for women as they do for men. We'll order women's items and then they'll get cancelled because we're the only people that order them. So it can be hard, but we’re improving."
What advice would she give to someone who wanted to start their own shop? “Grow your business slowly and sustainably," she says. “And if you want to have an ethical business, it definitely has to be at the core of it."
Therese Eriksson, Pedal + Tread
Therese and her husband Mat spent 2012 – the year that outdoor hashtags started to take off in a big way – travelling around the globe via Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific North West of America and Canada.
“Because we were travelling around the world, when the outdoor trend started, we had very limited access to the internet and were somewhat 'blissfully' unaware of the ‘camp vibes’," says Therese.
“We were too busy living out of a van, travelling from one place to the other, to know what was going on."
I’d love to have a mobile shop and use it as a travelling pop-up, visiting cool outdoor spots across the UK
It was serendipity that the pair’s decision to open an online store called Pedal + Tread specialising in all the outdoor kit they valued during their time on the road happened to be a bit trendy too.
“Living a simple outdoor lifestyle everyday made us more conscious about the things we really needed to help us enjoy this way of living. Like a lightweight cook set, a sharp knife, a durable stainless steel water bottle, and comfortable hiking socks."
Mat is English and Therese is from Sweden, so their stock is reflective of that. When we meet for our interview, Therese takes me on a bike ride and then makes ‘fika’ (the Swedish notion of coffee and buns) in a bird-watching hut, using a camping stove. It’s glorious.
"She grew up in Hudiksvall, around 200 miles north of Stockholm, and loves talking animatedly about her typically Swedish childhood.
“I spent summers picking blueberries and raspberries in the forest with our neighbour, swimming in the lake by our house, riding bikes and horses and helping the neighbouring farmers with their cows and taking in hay," she explains.
“I joined my dad during the moose hunt for the first time when I was nine. Mostly I remember falling asleep amongst the pine trees next to the crackling camp fire. Winters were spent skiing, ice skating and grilling hot dogs on open fires outside."
“I guess growing up in rural Sweden has had a huge impact on me as a person and it definitely has had a big influence in what I do with Pedal + Tread," she says.
Her respect for nature is certainly apparent in P+T’s products. their items either enable the customer to act in a sustainable way (with a Klean Kanteen bottle, for instance), or are made by sustainable means (their Tweedmill recycled wool blankets).
So, will there be a Pedal + Tread shop any time soon? “We’d love to have a physical space at some point," says Therese. “But for now we’re thinking of maybe a pop-up space somewhere."
"If I can dream, I’d love to have a little mobile shop and use it as a travelling pop-up, visiting cool outdoor spots across the UK."
Collyn Ahart, Bowndling
Collyn Ahart wanted to start a new brand for women who love the trail. "If you went to any sports brand website, you would see cyclocross, road, time trial, MTB, womens."
So she began Bowndling, a new technical clothing brand for women with its own distinct shapes and styles.
The collection currently comprises of bags, a parka and leggings, and is due to expand with more outerwear very soon. But it’s not been an easy ride.
Collyn Ahart grew up on the San Juan Islands in the Pacific North West of the USA, interacting with nature daily.
She first came to the UK to do a Master’s degree in 2004, and eventually ended up working with Rapha to create their much-lauded women’s range of cycle clothing. She began to blog about her forays into bike racing, and even wrote a little for Cooler.
She became a consultant for a variety of brands, culminating with a stint advising on advertising strategy for Nike Women. “I started getting quite frustrated about being a consultant at that point," she says. “I wanted to take ownership over something."
There's a generation of women who want something that lasts. It's a reaction to the years of disposable fashion...
By spring 2013, she knew she wanted to start Bowndling. She flew to New York with a business plan.
“I realised pretty quickly the vast amount of work that had be done and how much I didn't know about the manufacturing process or running a business. And how much I didn't even know about selling stuff!"
Collyn raised half the money she expected to, so she was forced to downsize and start learning about different aspects of running your own clothing company. But she was still confident that there was a group of women that it was important reach.
“There is a generation of women right now, who are mid-twenties to late forties, and are willing to invest a little bit more into clothing. They want something that lasts. It's a reaction to the years of disposable fashion."
So Collyn is working on creating clothing fit for outdoor life, in shapes that are interesting and unique to the market, manufactured in Europe to the highest standards.
“As a European company, it’s our responsibility to work as much as possible with European manufacturers," says Collyn. “Part of it is keeping those amazing skills and that craftsmanship alive."
That’s not her only admirable aim with Bowndling though. “I think getting people not just outside, but off the beaten path is a really important message."