Katherine Donnelly | 07.31.2018

As part of Outdoor Project's Women In the Wild series this summer, I have had the honor of working with outdoor women from all over the industry to dig a bit deeper into who they are, how they got to where they are now, how they approach the outdoors, and more. These women are all rad in their own right, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or how "badass" they might be. Whether they're mothers, daughters, sisters, professional athletes, beginners, weekend warriors, "instafamous," or anywhere in-between, their unique stories, journeys, opinions, and perspectives are incredibly valuable and insightful as Outdoor Project - and the industry as a whole - progresses and evolves to become more inclusive to every type of outdoors person. 

Through in-depth and often thought-provoking interviews, I hope to highlight these women's stories, their work, their adventures, and so much more with an eye toward giving them their well-deserved share of the spotlight while inspiring and empowering even more women to get outside!

In this feature we talk to Lindsay MacNevin.

This Woman In The Wild has created and co-founded (with her sister) an online movement and business all around empowering women to get outside and explore. But she will be the first to admit that it hasn't been easy, especially while simultaneously raising two boys and still finding time for herself to get out and enjoy her own adventures. Get the full scoop below.

Photo by James Greig.

OP: Give us the skinny on who Lindsay MacNevin is.

Lindsay MacNevin: Strong, badass, traveler, mom of two boys, and absolutely terrified of butterflies. CEO and co-founder of Women Who Explore. Tired 99% of the time. 

OP: When did you first know that you were going to spend your life in the outdoors?

Lindsay MacNevin: Honestly, never. Growing up, my sister (the co-founder of Women Who Explore) loved to play outside (aka my mom would kick us out and tell us to come home when the street lights were on), but did I ever think it could be a job? Not for one second. When we were growing up, jobs such as being an outdoor guide, a female entrepreneur, a kayak guide, etc. weren’t even options. It wasn’t until I moved to Alberta from Ontario that I truly discovered how much I enjoyed being outdoors. I mean, I still pinch myself that I actually own a company that allows me to be outdoors - when I'm not stuck in my office doing paperwork. 

OP: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the outdoor industry? 

Lindsay MacNevin: Being a woman in the outdoors has been easier for me than others I think. Starting a company designed for women has allowed me to surround myself with other badass, strong, empowered females. And that has led me to believe that women can do just as much in the outdoors as men. Being in the outdoor industry as a woman has created a sense of responsibility for me to get even more women out there, to encourage them and empower them to do and be anything they want in the outdoors. I feel like a proud mom to not only my two boys but to the hundreds of thousands of women we have following along. 

OP: What has the outdoors done for you, and how do you pay it back?

Lindsay MacNevin: It has opened my eyes to not only the beauty that surrounds us but the beautiful people that enjoy it. I’ve met my community in the outdoors, and I pay that back by introducing others to it. We can sit here and chat about Leave No Trace and being responsible in the outdoors, but that is a given, we should all be doing that. I pay the outdoors back by bringing more amazing people into it, people who want to help protect it and who want to preserve it’s beauty. 

OP: Conservation and protection of our public lands are central themes in today’s outdoor recreation narrative. As someone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors and on public lands, what role do you think outdoor enthusiasts should play in this evolving conversation and landscape?

Lindsay MacNevin: I mean it's obvious, right? We need to take care of the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do that. Open conversations, teaching moments, that’s what it comes down to in my opinion. We can kick and scream and get mad when we see garbage in the outdoors, or we can pick it up and pack it out and show the people we are with that that is the correct thing to be doing. Organizing clean ups and events is a great way to get people out to help them understand that their one piece of garbage didn’t seem like much to chuck in the woods, but piled with 75 other pieces, it’s a lot. Showing and leading the way for people is, in my opinion, the best way to educate them. 

OP: Who has inspired you along the way?

Lindsay MacNevin: My sister, first and foremost. The day I moved to Alberta she got me into the car and drove me into the mountains, and I was hooked. Every time she gets into the outdoors her face just lights up, and in turn, mine does too. And then my stepdad, not necessarily for inspiring me to get into the outdoors, but inspiring me to start a business and to do something I'm passionate about. 

OP: What does adventure mean to you?

Lindsay MacNevin: Adventure to me is a feeling. It’s the feeling of the wind blowing through my air, the smell of fresh air, the inability to keep a smile off my face. 

OP: What does the term "badass" mean to you?

Lindsay MacNevin: Haha. Before I read this question I used this term multiple times throughout my answers. Badass means strong, empowered, not taking no for an answer, believing your dreams can become a reality. 

OP: How have you managed to align your career with your passion for the outdoors? And do you have any advice for someone who is looking to do the same?

Lindsay MacNevin: I was lucky, I found two things I was super passionate about: connecting women and the outdoors. I found a way to connect the two of them and turn it into a career. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the most experienced outdoors person (still am not!) or that I didn’t have a business degree, it mattered that I was passionate. Find your passion, reach out for help, ask questions, and always put collaboration over competition. 

OP: We are seeing a shift in what the term woman or female might bring to mind (LGBTQ), both in the outdoor community and throughout the world. What does being a woman mean to you? Femininity?

Lindsay MacNevin: Being a woman means being able to open up, be honest about my feelings, hold nothing back. It means being open to experiences. It means empowering other women. 

OP: What mantra or set of words do you live by?

Lindsay MacNevin: Surround yourself with the doers, the dreamers, the thinkers, the believers. The people who are up to big things in this life and that whole heartedly believe that what you are up to is just as brilliant and beautiful. These people are your soul tribe. And once you've found them, you have the greatest fit one can ask for.

OP: In a perfect world, what does the outdoors (the people, the places, the community as a whole, etc.) look like to you? And what can outdoor brands and media companies, such as Outdoor Project, do better to help get us there?

Lindsay MacNevin: The outdoors looks like a place for everyone. No matter what your skill level is, your age, your abilities, your income level, etc. We should all be able to access the outdoors. It looks like a place of love for the people that are out there and the places where we are. Having conversations, understanding what is missing, that’s the first step. A huge part of our business is ensuring women can get into the outdoors no matter what. It’s expensive to get outside and try a new sport, visit a new place. We need to be dedicated to getting everyone out, affordably. 

OP: What is one thing that you never leave home without? 

Lindsay MacNevin: Honestly, my re-usable hydro flask coffee cup! It can double as a water bottle and a beer holder for the summits! It keeps every drink either hot or cold. LOVE IT.

OP: Let’s talk gear - what are your thoughts on women-specific gear? Love it, hate it? Are there any companies out there doing it right? And how so? When does it matter to you most to have gear specific to women versus unisex products?

Lindsay MacNevin: This is an interesting one to me because, as I have said, I am no expert in the outdoors. I love being out there, but I am definitely not a “gear head.” I love the fact that companies are recognizing that women-specific gear is a necessity, because it is. Backpacks in particular are important to me. The difference between wearing a uni-sex pack and a woman’s pack is huge. Also, these companies that are now creating pockets in leggings, sports bras, etc. are brilliant. If I'm being perfectly honest, I’d love to see more base layers and such with flaps so we can take a pee in the outdoors without pulling down our pants! 

OP: What is the greatest piece of advice or direction that you’ve ever received, and what’s the story behind it?

Lindsay MacNevin: If you want to succeed, you have to go all in. When we first started Women Who Explore I was a full time travel and beer writer, traveling all over the world. I had the opportunity to sit with someone who had started several successful businesses. I was not ready to quit being a travel writer yet, I still had places to go, bills to pay, things I wanted to see and do. He told me right then and there that if I wanted to start my own business, I had to quit my job. Put 100% of everything I do into Women Who Explore. I quit that night and here we are today. 

OP: If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were just starting out with Women Who Explore, what would it be?

Lindsay MacNevin: Starting a business is going to be hard. You are going to want to quit, over and over. You will learn that not everyone is going to like your ideas, and that’s okay. Walk with your head held high because you have started something amazing, and you should be proud of it. 

OP: In a world seemingly run by online personas, how do you approach social media, and how does it play into your lifestyle - both work and play?

Lindsay MacNevin: Social media for us has been a blessing. We’ve built an online community that has allowed us to reach hundreds of thousands of women and convert that online community to local in-person communities. We use it to reach women we wouldn't normally come across and then connect them with like-minded women. For us, it’s a tool, and it’s been amazing. 

OP: What’s next for you in the coming months and years?

Lindsay MacNevin: Grow, grow, grow. Currently we only operate in North America, so we are going full steam ahead expanding all over the world. We hope to add another 50 ambassadors in 2019 and open even more local chapters of Women Who Explore. In 2018 we facilitated over 40 weekend getaways, and the goal for 2019 will be 60. A real focus for us will be offering affordable weekends for women to try a new sport, see a new destination and meet other badass women. 

OP: The title of your autobiography would be... 

Lindsay MacNevin: Real Talk: Why Having Kids, Traveling the World, and Starting a Business is Hard AF. 

OP: In your next life, you will come back as...

Lindsay MacNevin: A great white shark. Literally obsessed.

OP: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

Lindsay MacNevin: My secret dream, like the big dream, the one you don’t dare to talk about to anyone because you might actually than have to follow through with it, is to be on that stage one day delivering a Ted Talk. (omg I just admitted it, now I have to do it….)

OP: If our readers were to take one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

Lindsay MacNevin: Don’t be afraid if you think you are not good enough, not skilled enough, or not experienced enough to go after your dreams. The first time I went into the mountains to hike, I borrowed my son’s backpack, wore a cotton sweatshirt, a pair of converse sneakers and brought a package of beef jerky. Today I am running a business about the outdoors. You are enough to do anything you want to do. 

Learn more about Lindsay by checking out Women Who Explore and following along on their adventures through Facebook and Instagram.


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