Being an ally is a year-round job, but the month of February calls for extra celebration as Black History Month - a time to recognize the invaluable contributions, achievements, influences, and legacies of Black Americans.
Because of racial discrimination and resource inequity, black-owned businesses often have a more difficult time obtaining capital than their majority counterparts , and face an uphill battle on the journey to becoming a successful business.
While racial diversity concerns aren’t new to the outdoor industry, we believe outdoor brands can be a part of the solution in creating opportunities and access to a space that has long been inequitable. We’ve rounded up 8 Black-owned companies that are changing the game for inclusivity.
Slim Pickins Outfitters is at the top of this list because it was the first Black-owned outdoor gear shop in the United States dedicated to strengthening our outdoor community through education and community events. According to founder Jahmicah Dawes, their goal is to be a relevant space for our local community and cater to creative outdoor enthusiasts, while diversifying the outdoor industry in terms of ownership and leadership positions. The shop also sells vintage clothing and shoes, so you can look stylish both on and off the trails.
Seirus is an outdoor accessories company that uses advanced technology and fabrics to make innovative products like rechargeable heated gloves, magnetized convertible mittens, and heatwave base layers.
“Our mission is to deliver the best products to enable all outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the greatest comfort and performance in any cold weather activity. To foster a culture where commitment to excellence in product innovation, quality, and customer service permeates all we do.”
CEO Mike Carey, an avid winter sports enthusiast, wanted to create for others what he sought for himself: a business culture he values and an environment that provides a space that allows collaborative beings to flourish.
Intrinsic Provisions is an outdoor apparel and accessories store in Hingham, Massachusetts founded by Mark Boles in May of 2019 together with Ponch Membreño. Their goal is to provide customers with opportunities to interact with extremely high-quality brands, almost all of which are owned and operated by individuals who are also doing well by doing good.
Mark and Ponch both grew up with good fortune and easy access to nature, and are also linked by their shared identity as people of color. They believe that the industry and community will continue to strive for a larger tent, and they hope to help lead the evolution.
WhitePaws RunMitts was founded in 2016 by Susan Clayton, who saw a real need since she could never find mittens or gloves that kept both her fingers and thumbs warm at the same time. Unlike traditional mittens or gloves, WhitePaws RunMitts cover both your fingers and thumb and allow you to flip the top to cool down to regulate airflow without having to remove them completely.
Melt Fit Athleticwear is designed for women of all shapes and sizes, ranging from small to 3X, with special attention paid to curvy customers. With these sports leggings, there will be no waistband rolling or sagging. This Detroit-based brand founded by former singer Ashley Garner also sells workout gloves, sweatbands, and other accessories to round out your look.
PRU Apparel was founded by Ebonique Hewing and caters to all types of women with its message of camaraderie and pride. The breathable clothing sets utilize Kente cloth and come in a variety of sizes. PRU Apparel sells sports bras, leggings, and shorts - all featuring bright and colorful designs inspired by Africa's culture and rich history.
EleVen by Venus Williams brings tennis legend Venus Williams’ years on the court to a line of athletic wear for women that is comfortable, colorful, stylish, and functional. This brand is all about maximizing performance without sacrificing aesthetics.
Lukafit is an empowering activewear line with a mission to celebrate and support women of color on their journeys to health and wellness. With their vibrantly colored "squat proof" leggings and shorts, it's no surprise that Lukafit is catching the attention of women looking for funky and functional athleticwear. The name Lukafit is derived from the Zulu word juluka, which means "to sweat," in homage to the founder's South African heritage.
If you are looking for more black-owned businesses to support, visit The BGC Marketplace - a one-stop shopping site that uplifts BIPOC-owned companies, and companies that advocate for their communities and the planet.
Being an ally to Black-owned outdoor businesses isn’t something that should be limited to Black History Month. It’s a year-round commitment. Even if you’re not able to monetarily support black-owned businesses, spreading the word is just as important! Promote businesses on social media by sharing your positive experiences, building awareness around Black-owned outdoor businesses.
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