Black-Owned Businesses in the Outdoor Industry

Black-Owned Businesses in the Outdoor Industry

February is Black History Month, and we wanted to use the time to spotlight a few Black-owned outdoor brands trailblazing in the industry. In this article, you'll find some of our favorite brands, why we love them, and the marketing strategies they use to connect with prospective and existing customers.

Melanin Base Camp

Danielle Williams, an outdoor enthusiast, founded the company after noticing a gap in diversity within the outdoor industry toward people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Melanin Base Camp was created to provide a space for marginalized individuals and uplift athletes and adventurers from a variety of backgrounds.

The company has created a strong sense of community through its use of content marketing and social media. An international team of "athletes, advocates, and environmentalists" write editorial blogs that are featured across the site on a variety of topics and opinions. Additionally, the company has mastered the art of giving people a voice through user-generated Facebook and Instagram posts; it's part of the #DiversifyOutdoors coalition, which has over 140,000 posts.

Aside from Melanin Base Camp's digital presence, the company also partners with outdoor organizations to donate and host workshops that celebrate diversity and inclusion in the industry.

Outdoor Afro

Another Black-owned outdoor business is Outdoor Afro, founded by Rue Mapp, a nature lover who wanted to create a space where Black people could connect with nature and each other. Outdoor Afro was created as a non-profit in 2009, and now, it has over 60,000 participants. There is a leadership training program for volunteers, glamping, events for Black History Month, Juneteenth, and more.

In addition to on-the-ground activities, Outdoor Afro has a solid social media presence, particularly on Twitter and Instagram. The brand creates a space for Black people to share stories and photos of the outdoors. Additionally, as a non-profit, the company provides many resources and articles related to environmentalism and social justice to its 92,000 Instagram followers.

Outdoor Afro's marketing strategies aim to promote their organization and amplify the voices and experiences of Black outdoor enthusiasts and promote a more inclusive outdoor culture.

May be an image of 13 people, people standing and outdoors

Black Girls Trekkin'

Co-founders Tiffany and Michelle wanted to create a space for Black women to explore the outdoors, so they founded Black Girls Trekkin'. The brand has created a community, primarily built through social media, to promote events like hikes and conversations about Black women in the space of the outdoor industry. 

Both Black Girls Trekkin' founders reflect on feeling excluded or underrepresented in their hobbies growing up and respective industries, including but not limited to environmentalism and exploring the outdoors. They've since used these experiences to launch a community that empowers women and encourages an appreciation for all lifestyles and identities.

In addition to hiking meet-ups, which are based out of Los Angeles and led by BGT leaders, the brand also sports merch. They say they'd like to expand into "rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, outdoor yoga, beach/trail clean-ups, outdoor photography skills, and more!" 

Additionally, the organization is committed to education and provides several resources, including hiking itineraries, blog post articles, and even supports fundraising events and donations. Image is taken from Black Girls Trekkin' Facebook

Tough Cutie 

Tough Cutie sells premium hiking socks that were designed by and created for women. Brittany Coleman, the company's founder, wanted a way to support women through every walk of life, and she's done just that. Reviews for the socks include comments like "soft but sturdy" and "top quality," and to date, they've been featured in publications like Women's Wear Daily and Outside Business Journal. 

The company features posts on its social media like "Women on Wednesday," an inspiring quote from women in the outdoors, as well as spotlights on its women-owned vendors. Like some of the other businesses on our list, Tough Cutie also uses a content marketing strategy through the company's blog, "In her shoes." 

Final Thoughts

This Black History Month, take time to reflect on how Black-owned businesses are shaping your community and industry and ways to uplift these brands and voices, not just this month but year-round. All of these companies are examples of the power that can come from turning a gap in representation into a space for inclusion and conversation. 

In addition to the authentic values and missions that bring these brands to life, social media, user-generated content, customized hashtags, and content marketing are all strategies that help build brand awareness and promote these messages.

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