There’s a popular quote by naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir that says, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” What is it about mountains? I think it’s partly having the experience of being utterly small and insignificant (in the best way possible), and the thrill of coming face to face with rugged, natural majesty – something that perhaps ignites a primal spark deep inside us. Suddenly we are explorers, adventurers, and dare I say that for many of us, there is a sort of spiritual sense of coming home. Muir’s take on that feeling was, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
So why this talk of mountains? Well, the launch of Barefoot Eco Outfitters represents a coming home of sorts for me. Let me explain. This venture is an offshoot of my original mission driven business, Barefoot Athletic Company. I have always been active and have long enjoyed sports and the outdoors, and I found that keeping my body moving had a life changing and perhaps even life saving impact on my body in the face of some supremely challenging times. I wanted others to know their own inner strength, and to know that every effort at being active, no matter how small can be significant and powerful. I also felt keenly that my products needed to be kind to the planet in honor of all that nature had provided my kids and me in terms of refuge, respite and recreation. What a great experience Barefoot Athletic Company was! I had the privilege of meeting some phenomenal people, the opportunity for great learning and personal growth, and the satisfaction of supporting causes/organizations I cared about.
Though I have played many sports in my life, most significantly tennis, which will always be a big part of me, my heart and soul have always been rooted in the natural world, and I kept finding myself drawn back to the outdoors. In the early fall of 2015, my daughter/business partner and I took a spontaneous day trip to Paradise at Mt. Rainier. Fortunately for us, these forays into nature are very accessible in Washington state, and it was fairly easy to set aside the cares of the day, jump in the van and head to our favorite mountain. We needed a break, and we knew where we wanted to be.
That day was glorious! The fall colors were on full display, and The Mountain, as we call it here, was generous in weather conditions and robust clarity. I have always felt Mt. Rainier was a generous volcano – no matter where you are, even in the parking lot, it leans into your camera and makes you feel like the summit is but a stone’s throw away. The air was so crisp and clean, and the views so astounding that I could scarcely take it in. I felt there was no amount of staring at that mountain, or being in its presence that could make me fully assimilate its majesty. I felt free, accepted, unfettered, joyful, inspired; in the midst of the uncertainty of nature, I felt safe. And memories flooded back of all the summers growing up when my parents took me and my three siblings camping. All the nostalgic sensory moments of my past experiences in nature came back full force and hit me square in the heart. My inspiration was right in front of me, drawing me in, and I knew what I had to do.
So, this re-branding was born. It is a celebration of the great outdoors and those unique and wonderful memories we cherish of finding the perfect campsite, card games by flashlight, that first early morning ziiiiip of the tent when you greet the forest dawn, dusty dirt roads in the back seat of an old station wagon, sticky s’mores, and laughter from neighboring campers illuminated by the orange glow of their fire.
I love these memories, and I have many. Why? I think it’s because we can all become world weary at times – life can chip away at our self esteem, our motivation or resolve sometimes, and nature restores you to your organic self. Nature doesn’t judge. Nature doesn’t see color or size or care that you made an embarrassing blunder in class. We’re most at peace, most happy when we get to be our authentic selves. Nature gives us that opportunity, whether it’s at the sea or in the forest, and that is how we’re supposed to feel.
So, Barefoot Eco Outfitters was born, and here we are. We hope our products help you celebrate your own memories and adventures in the natural world. We hope that our eco-friendly mission and commitment to donating a portion of our proceeds to environmental causes will inspire a sense of stewardship. And we hope that it will encourage you to seek wonder; that you will allow yourself to be small in the face of something majestic, and that you will find yourself coming home.
Tracy Strandness, Owner/Founder