EP 144: Centering Women Of Color In The Outdoors with Color Outside Founder Nailah Blades Wylie

Aug 7, 2018 | Community, Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Why moving to Salt Lake City from San Diego inspired Nailah to start Color Outside — and how the free meetup transformed into the company it is today
  • How Nailah budgets, markets, and plans retreats — and why she hosts them in places that you wouldn’t normally take a vacation
  • How she uses private Facebook groups to connect with her people right away, plus her approach to sharing and posting content within it
  • What’s included in every retreat–including renting out an entire home, hiring a private chef and a photographer, offering unique activities, and more–plus, the pricing strategy Nailah uses to calculate costs–including profit

As a new mom and a newcomer to Salt Lake City by way of San Diego, Nailah Blades Wylie sought community and adventure to reconnect with herself. That’s why she founded Color Outside, a meetup-turned-travel company for women of color who are ready to create unapologetic, joy-filled lives through outdoor adventure.

In today’s conversation, Nailah shares how she budgets, markets, and plans the retreats and what’s so important about getting out into the wild. If you’ve ever considered running retreats or live events as the core offering of your business model, this is an episode not to miss.

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The evolution of Color Outside from a free meetup to an adventure company

“I realized that hiking, exploring, kayaking and being out in the wild helped me to really reconnect with that part of myself that I was missing. My mind stopped racing. I was able to think through things more. I got a broader perspective on what was going on in my life… and I thought: other women need this.” — Nailah Blades Wylie

As a new mom and a new resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, Nailah felt disconnected from herself — and from a community. She craved getting into nature and she needed to be around other women going through the same thing.

Initially, Color Outside started as a free meetup group. She organized hikes for women of color to come together and explore this new place she called home. As Nailah continued to host meetups out in the wild, she realized just how much she enjoyed it.

With a background in life and business coaching, she easily connected with other women on a deep level. In this episode, Nailah talks about a hike that confirmed this for her. As she and another woman powered through the woods, the woman shared that she was in a job she hated — and that she wanted to be a writer instead.

For the remainder of their time together, they mapped out a plan for her to start exploring this new life path as a writer… and by the end of the day, the woman felt so much better because she had a plan to research and implement.

That’s when Nailah knew that Color Outside could be so much more than a meetup group. It could be an opportunity for life and business transformation — and a place where women of color could feel — and experience — unapologetic joy, one of Nailah’s biggest values for Color Outside.

Prioritizing and infusing unapologetic joy into everything

“Expressing our joy and being unapologetic about it is revolutionary, especially for women of color. It’s something that’s not a given for us. We have to fight against the stereotype of the angry Black woman or the spicy Latina. Just showing up and taking up that space is huge: it ripples throughout our community and the entire world.” — Nailah Blades Wylie

Unapologetic joy: even thinking about the idea feels liberating. And that’s exactly why Nailah celebrates and infuses it into everything Color Outside. For her, that unapologetic joy is something that she embraces in her own life.

“I don’t make apologies for who I am,” she says. “I don’t hide my political or business building beliefs. I try to be an open book and say: this is who I am, no apologies. It’s helped me build a strong community because I’m able to connect with my audience that much faster and that much more authentically.”

Nailah’s ability to live unapologetically joyful in her own life makes it compelling for her ideal audience to connect with that energy and say: I want some of that, too. Think about your personal values. Is there a way for you to infuse them into your business model, like Nailah?

Planning and marketing Color Outside retreats

“Burnout and boredom are the two things that we’re trying to combat. Many of the women are in that space. They’re like: I feel kind of bored and listless with my life. I’m doing all these things for other people, I don’t have time to take out for myself or I don’t feel like I have time, and I don’t remember my hobbies or the fun things I used to do. It’s about how to hop off that cycle of boredom and burnout and inject more joy into your life.” — Nailah Blades Wylie

Nailah knows her ideal customer inside and out — and how they’d be served by attending one of her retreats. She knows their desires, their fears, and their objections. And, those same objections are exactly what she uses to invite them to a retreat, which is a clear path to living a more adventurous life. “It’s pretty easy to sell a retreat from there,” Nailah says, “because it’s the solution to all their problems.”

Every retreat takes between 4-6 months to plan. As part of the planning process, Nailah uses webinars and Facebook ads as well as the private Facebook group to sell spots into them. She also collaborates with other brands with similar missions to share her message with more women of color. And she’s still running her free meetup group for those local to Salt Lake City.

Hear more from Nailah Blades Wylie on hosting retreats as the center of your business model, how personal values impact your company values, and how she plans and markets retreats.

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