smiling woman wearing glasses and black t-shirt and jeans sitting on steps in front of a door
WhitePaws RunMitts owner Susan Clayton (Photo: Courtesy WhitePaws RunMitts)
Outside Business Journal

19 Black-Owned Outdoor Business Making the Industry a Better Place

These companies are bringing more representation to the industry—and making great gear in the process

smiling woman wearing glasses and black t-shirt and jeans sitting on steps in front of a door

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In honor of Black History Month, we’re spotlighting 19 Black-owned businesses across the outdoor industry. Get to know these companies doing good work and making awesome gear of all kinds.

WhitePaws RunMitts

Owner: Susan Clayton

Year founded: 2016

What We Do

WhitePaws RunMitts mittens are purpose-built to address the needs of runners, walkers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts. Our handwear features a pocket where you can stash a handwarmer packet, but the key design element is that you can flip open the top and push the mittens down over your wrist as you warm up. No need to peel them off and stuff them into a pocket. In the online shop, we offer a wide variety of running mitts, plus gaiters and face masks.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“During the course of my coaching with Back on My Feet Baltimore, I saw a real need. I could never find mittens or gloves that kept both my fingers and thumbs warm when training in cold weather, so I sat down at the sewing machine and invented one. I honed my sewing skills which has really paid off: I create and test my own prototypes, so I’m constantly improving my designs. And each pair is hand-cut and sewn in Baltimore. I guess you could call me a hands-on founder!  I look forward to working with specialty outdoor retailers who think WhitePaws would be a good fit in their shops.” —Susan Clayton

Sweat and Sunshine

Owner: Janelle Sheppard

Year founded: 2018

What We Do

Sweat and Sunshine is a nature-based wellness business that provides outdoor adventures and fitness experiences designed to maximize the restorative benefits of sunshine and natural spaces. We lead five different outdoor hiking experiences including: a 3.8-mile moderate hike into Hidden Valley, 2.4-mile challenging hike of Piestwea Peak’s Summit Trail, a 2-mile naturalist-focused hike, and two kid-friendly hikes that focus on adventure and science.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“Sweat & Sunshine is unique because each experience offers guests the opportunity to focus on both physical and mental health in the most stunning Sonoran Desert settings. No one can experience the mountains without deepening their connection to the natural world. There is no way to climb to the summit and miss your expanding chest with deep breaths; you’re always reminded that you’re alive and you’re part of the natural world. Guests nearly always learn or see something that expands their appreciation for our precious natural resources. They practice using their curiosity to see deeply and be present in the moment.” —Janelle Sheppard

Memory Pilot

Owner: Erik Saunders

Year founded: 2019

What We Do

Memory Pilot offers mountain bike fenders (both front and rear) made of high-density polyethylene resin in its Santa Barbara, California factory. Individuals, retailers, clubs, teams, and bike brands can choose from a slew of in-house designs or create a custom design of their own.

We also make compression cycling socks! We had a finicky relationship with socks, so we designed the perfect pair. Our Awesome Bike Riding Socks come in wool and synthetic versions. They have vertical ribs along the back to support the achilles and protect from pedal pins, thinner material across the ankle to alleviate pressure from shoe straps and buckles, and an open weave front for breathability.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“First, our focus is on independent bike dealers because I believe it’s important to be at the right retailers who are a part of the scene. Second, we make high-quality products with low minimums and fast lead times, so we’re easy to work with. In the case of custom mudguards and socks, we offer retailers the chance to local-source customized goods, at low MOQs (minimum order quantity), without sacrificing quality or margin.” —Erik Saunders

Intrinsic Provisions

Owner: Mark Boles

Year founded: 2019

What We Do

Intrinsic Provisions is an outdoor apparel and accessories store in Hingham, Massachusetts. Our goal is to introduce customers to new brands that they otherwise might not have a chance to discover. We carry a curated selection of brands, but a wider selection of product within those brands. This allows us to tell a fuller brand story and communicate our commitment to certain brands versus others.

Intrinsic Provisions utilizes a hybrid business model akin to pop-up and traditional retail. This model enables us to have a couple of what we call “anchor” (somewhat mature yet emerging) brands, like Stio, which we know will draw in customers. Then we can introduce those customers to what we call “discovery” brands like Vermont Glove, Purist, Corbeaux Clothing, Ruggette, Reima. The anchor brands lend a halo of credibility allowing customers to have some trust in trying the discovery brands.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“We like to think of ourselves as brand storytellers, and the best stories happen outside. Intrinsic Provisions is more than just a store: it’s a place where passion lives. It’s a place where there’s a belief in community, where everyone is welcome. The items we offer are thoughtfully-curated because of a belief in those brands and the people behind them. Almost all of our brands are independently owned and have some element of sustainability and in several cases are certified B-Corps. We’ve taken the time to get to know these brands so we can convey their intrinsic value.” —Mark Boles

Allmansright Ultralight Hiking Gear

Owner: Livio Melo

Year founded: 2020

What We Do

Allmansright is an outdoor gear lab that specializes in ultralight gear including backpacks, cross bags, sacks, food bags, wallets, and more. We personally design and handcraft (to order) everything out of the Bronx and enjoy making things with the user in mind. Our name is inspired by a Swedish Law known as “The Right to Public Access,” because we believe access to nature is ‘allmansright.’ We donate two percent of our monthly profits to organizations that protect and diversify the outdoors.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“As a BIPOC owner from the Bronx with a degree in industrial design, I bring a new perspective to the outdoor industry on ultralight gear which is still primarily a cottage industry. Functionality and purpose is very important to me, and it shows in the designs we offer. I strive to make each product exciting and appealing to a diverse group of people. My ultimate goal is to have our gear inspire more people (BIPOC and inner city folks) to connect with nature!” —Livio Melo

"Man wearing black lounging underneath a green tarp tent in a fenced in yard with city buildings behind him"
Livio Melo of Allmansright Ultralight Hiking Gear (Photo: Courtesy Allmansright)

The 1854 Cycling Company

Owner: Brandale Randolph

Year founded: 2016

What We Do

The 1854 Cycling Company is a premium bicycle, e-bike, and apparel company founded to create employment opportunities for those who have formerly been incarcerated. We build technologically-advanced bicycles, electric-assisted bikes, and soon electric motorcycles. Our employees assemble and service our bicycles at our Framingham, Massachusetts, HQ, earning a living wage in a sustainable, safe, and nurturing work environment.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“We may be the only Black-owned bike brand in the U.S. But my greatest achievement would be to see this small brand grow into its own culture and community. When people see ‘1854’ on an e-bike, motorcycle, t-shirt, or sweatshirt, I want them to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves as we are a company that is founded on a mission to make the world a better place to live.” —Brandale Randolph

ROCKDEEP

Owner: Brandale Randolph

Year founded: 2013

What We Do

ROCKDEEP sells outdoor and athletic footwear and apparel, including hiking, running, and trail running shoes, winter boots, joggers, shorts, hoodies, and winter jackets. Our core mission is to provide quality, function, and style at an affordable price.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“As a small company (based in Alexandria, Virginia), we don’t have the luxury of making products that aren’t comfortable the first time you wear them. If bigger companies make shoes that end up hurting your feet, you will give them another chance and maybe even several chances. We literally only get one chance to impress every customer. We differentiate ourselves by providing outdoor footwear which isn’t boring, and catches the eye, but also looks and feels good and is made of high-quality materials. We will proudly put our products up against anyone else in the industry and come out on top.” —Brandale Randolph

Elite Feet

Owner: Jason and Joy Hunt

Year founded: 2015

What We Do

Elite Feet is a Delaware-based and family-owned retail specialty running store. Our staff is well trained in our Elite Fit Process. With this process, our goal is to provide an outstanding customer experience while striving to go the “extra mile” for our customers trying to live a more active and healthier lifestyle. We believe it is our duty to help educate our customers on the difficult shoe fitting process for walkers, runners, and growing kids.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“We use gait analysis to choose the right shoe for walking, running, cross-training and organized sports. We measure both feet for length and width, evaluate both arches, observe the customer on the treadmill, and ask a series of questions to determine the proper footwear for the customer’s specific activity. Because all feet are NOT created equal, each customer is individually assessed and given a recommendation based on their unique set of feet. We’re eager to work with new brands and expand our roster of high-quality trail running shoes.” —Jason and Joy Hunt

Seirus

Owner: Mike Carey

Year founded: 1984

What We Do

Seirus is an outdoor accessories company. We make items that protect your head, hands, and feet. Our mission is to deliver the best products to enable every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy the greatest comfort and performance during any cold weather activity. We use the most advanced technology and fabrics which has resulted in innovative products like rechargeable heated gloves, our award-winning magnetized convertible mittens, and our new Heatwave Base Layers.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“I wanted to create the same thing for others that I wanted for myself, a business environment that provides the space to allow a collaborative being to flourish. What we are creating and working to preserve is a melting pot of stakeholders to build a more inclusive outdoors, filled with transformative experiences. All of this culminates into the development of innovative, high-quality essentials that support everyone to comfortably enjoy the outdoors.” —Mike Carey

Urban Events Global

Owner: Kevin Knight

Year founded: 2016

"Black man in a blue suit with arms crossed and hand on chin"
Kevin Knight, who founded Urban Events Global in 2016 (Photo: Courtesy)

What We Do

Urban Events Global (UEG) is a travel company that cultivates adventurous events for professionals of color, like Urban Camp Weekend (UCW). UCW happens every year since 2011 in Canyon Lake, Texas, and draws 1,000 to 1,600 adults, making it the largest camping event in the country. UCW is all about networking, making new friends, and promoting unity while enjoying all nature has to offer.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“Our family reunion-style camping trip welcomes outdoor lovers to engage and enjoy themselves with other like-minded individuals for an activity-filled weekend, which includes river tubing, games, DJs and dancing, barbecue, volleyball, and more. During the UCW weekend, we allow Black-owned businesses to vend for free as it’s our goal to empower and support their growth. As Urban Events Global camps and travels across the world, we hope to encourage our community to explore through group travel and adventure.” —Kevin Knight

Warthen RV Park

Owners: Josh and Amber Gordy

Year founded: 2012

What We Do

Warthen RV Park sits on 27 acres and offers 50 full-hook up RV lots and 12 spacious tent sites. Our amenities include water and sewage hookups, a laundry facility, two shower suites, a volleyball court, a walking trail, and free wi-fi. Warthen is a place where guests can relax, unwind, connect with nature, and recharge whether they’re staying for a night or a month.

Forty-five minutes away is our sister property D&D Outdoor Retreat. Guests can stay in beautiful yurts overlooking a fish pond, as well as a shooting range and walking and ATV trails. Day passes and seasonal specials, like a chef-prepared dinner and special activities around a campfire, are available.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

People gathered around a campfire in the woods
Guests at Warthen lounging around the campfire (Photo: Courtesy)

“We like to provide not only a place to camp but an experience. Aside from relaxing by the campfire, many of our guests enjoy our guided ATV Trail rides, which gives them an opportunity to explore 27 acres of beautiful Georgia open land. They leave feeling as if they’ve just attended a family reunion thanks to our down-to-earth hospitality.” —Josh and Amber Gordy

Black Girls Do Bike

Owner: Monica Garrison

Year founded: 2013

What We Do

Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) exists to inspire more women, specifically women of color, to ride bikes, and we fund this work by sponsorship, contributions, and selling a variety of cycling swag in our shop designed to celebrate the body types and skin tones of women of color, including shorts, jerseys, jackets, and thermal bottoms. We are equally committed to creating more local BGDB chapters that invite new and old cyclists to join rides or cycling events at least once per month. We currently have 99 BGDB chapters all over the country, as far as Anchorage, Alaska, and we recently expanded beyond the U.S. to London and Antigua.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“BGDB supports initiatives across the country to get more women and girls riding bikes, such as an annual national meetup in a new city each year that brings lady riders together to ride and engage in fellowship. While we are excited about new initiatives like forming a BGDB race team to compete nationally, our top priority is to help break barriers for women in cycling, to encourage women to be bike advocates for change in their communities, and to model this healthy outlet to loved ones.” —Monica Garrison

"Woman with short black hair and glasses, wearing army green jacket standing next to bicycles on a rack"
Monica Garrison, founder of Black Girls Do Bike (Photo: Courtesy Monica Garrison)

Slim Pickins Outfitters

Owners: Jahmicah and Heather Dawes

Year founded: 2016

What We Do

Slim Pickins Outfitters is a specialty outdoor retailer focused on building up our outdoor community through education and community events. We are the first Black-owned outdoor independent retailer. However, we aren’t the only ones anymore, and we won’t be the last. Our aim is to be a relevant space for our local community and cater to creative outdoor enthusiasts, while diversifying the outdoor industry, as it pertains to ownership and positions of leadership.

“We aim to be a mentor to other Black-owned and minority businesses. In the past, we have reached out to outdoor associations, brands, and even business organizations about starting an incubator & accelerator for Black-owned and minority-owned businesses, brands, etc. It never gained any momentum, but we hope that will change in the future. We have always dreamed of having an intern program connected with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) where we would have interns work at our company for 6 months. This would allow the interns to accompany us to trade shows and network with brands, companies, and other organizations. This is one of the ways we invest in our mission to diversify the outdoor industry as it pertains to ownership and leadership.” — Jahmicah Dawes

Paskho

Owner: Patrick Robinson

Year founded: 2013

What We Do

Paskho sells high-performance and eco-friendly apparel for men and women, such as pants, shorts, tops, and outerwear. Patrick Robinson was a top designer for brands like Giorgio Armani and Gap. After a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park, he was inspired by the durable, water-repellant, flexible, and multifunctional outdoor apparel and gear he used and decided to create his own line of sustainable clothes that were stylish and comfortable enough to go from work to play.

Nearly half of all fabrics used by Paskho are reclaimed and 85 percent are vegan. In addition to sourcing fabrics that use less water, energy, and toxic chemicals, the company offset its carbon footprint and donates a portion of profits to 1% for the Planet.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“In summer 2020, Paskho launched a new ongoing project called Community Made. Through Community Made, Paskho is producing a small number of clothing items on-demand through a large network of individual homes of pattern makers and seamstresses who live in the U.S. Paskho has launched the project in the homes of skilled makers in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, with plans to extend to Detroit and California. I hope this project will allow Paskho to provide fair wages and better working conditions for American makers, many of whom are from underserved communities that suffered job loss in the pandemic. If all goes well, we may soon move all of our production from factories in Asia and be an all-American made brand.” —Patrick Robinson

Outerthere

Owner: Al Berrios

Year founded: 2013

Man in black T-shirt with white letters #ONWARD and sunglasses with trees in background
Al Berrios, founder of Outerthere (Photo: Courtesy)

What We Do

Since 2013, Outerthere.com has been working with tour operators, rental partners, and other guides collaboratively to host hundreds of small-group hikes, bike rides, paddling trips, and more for beginners in our local New York City market. We’re on a mission to help everyone gain access, feel welcome, and be included in the outdoors.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“Outerthere is a mission-driven outdoor activities brand. We put our guests (aka ‘fam’) first. We don’t treat them like transactions. Rather, we invest heavily in access, support, and quality control of our experiences. That translates into programs that support our fam’s local communities so they can get outdoors easier. We create subsidies for fams going through financial challenges, and offer grants for local environmental conservation groups that include BIPOC feedback in their work. We have also created lending libraries for our fam because not having the fanciest gear shouldn’t be an obstacle to participating in outdoor activities. Most of our fam come from diverse backgrounds, are beginners in many of the activities on our calendar, and are concentrated in the New York/New Jersey area (though this fall we’re bringing our unique trips to Baltimore). We operate year round and about 30 percent of our fams book multiple trips per year.” —Al Berrios

R.E.Load

Owners: Roland Burns and Ellie Lum

Year founded: 1998

What We Do

We launched R.E.Load over 20 years ago to design a better messenger bag. Today, we sell all types of cycling bags—basket, seat, and belted bags, as well as backpacks, saddlebags, and chain lock covers. All products are made by hand in Philadelphia. R.E.Load donates a percentage of sales from certain products, like the Lil Jawn Hip Pack, to a rotating selection of projects and groups that amplify Black cyclist voices.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“Cyclists can customize their R.E.Load bag to fit their needs. Bags and accessories can be tailor-made based on features for organization, reflective options, and colorful or long-lasting materials. Even minute details such as the color of the thread can be selected. More notable, R.E.Load was the first company to offer personalized appliqué graphics on messenger bags and continues to be hailed as experts for this specialized service.” —Roland Burns and Ellie Lum

The Towne Cycles

Owner: David Boone

Year founded: 2014

What We Do

The Towne Cycles is a community-based bike shop that specializes in custom builds for commuters. We reuse or upcycle older parts and personally design bike builds for their intended use—whether that’s a daily commute, a race, or riding down the coast of California. That ensures that each bike is fitted to the buyer and no bike goes unloved. We also offer a small selection of pre-built bikes, frames, and parts for purchase.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“We care about community. We care about our buyers and what matters to them. We care that people (women, LGBTQ+, minorities, homeless people, etc.) are empowered and not shunned, neglected, or condescended to for who they are or what they know. The Towne Cycles serves many clientele at discounted rates, sometimes for free, and will work on bikes that other shops won’t. We love to solve a good problem and provide excellent service while doing so.” —David Boone

Coral Cliffs Rock Climbing Gym

Owner: Abby Dione

Year founded: 2011

What We Do

Coral Cliffs is an indoor rock climbing gym in Ft. Lauderdale that offers 87 top-roped routes, 25 lead routes, bouldering, slabs, aretes, overhangs, arches, and roofs. The routes change on a weekly basis, so visitors never get bored and remain challenged. Coral Cliffs welcomes new and experienced climbers with classes, private instruction, gear rental, and single-day or seven-visit passes.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“I became the first queer Black woman to own an indoor rock climbing gym when I opened Coral Cliffs 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve tried to make my gym a safe space for BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, and young climbers. This has resulted in such things as a local youth rock climbing team and more women involved in the sport through our monthly Lady’s Night. During the pandemic, Coral Cliffs has struggled to stay open, but the nation rallied to save the gym, raising over $120K through a GoFundMe campaign.” —Abby Dione

Founder Abby Dione (center) at Coral Cliffs Climbing Gym (Photo: Courtesy Abby Dione)

Teffley

Owner: Kokeb Kassa

Year founded: 2019

What We Do

At Teffley, we make delicious Ethiopian plant-based snacks—crackers, barley kernels and bars—that contain all-natural ingredients like honey and cocoa, with no dairy or processed sugar. Teffley snacks are perfect to take on a bike ride, a hike, a weekend camping trip, or any adventure.

What Makes Us Special in the Outdoor Industry

“Barley Crunch (barley kernels) and Teff Crunch (crackers) are the favorite snacks of our world-famous Ethiopian runners. When these runners train in the high altitude mountains of Ethiopia, they count on these snacks to boost energy, increase immunity, and provide nutrients. Food is integral to any culture and our mission at Teffley is to connect cultures through food. These are snacks that we grew up eating in Ethiopia and now we are sharing them with the world.” —Kokeb Kassa

Lead Photo: Courtesy WhitePaws RunMitts

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