“Outdoorsman” is a catchall word for someone who likes spending time outdoors in any number of pursuits from camping to climbing. But what if that outdoorsman happens to be a woman? ‘Outdoorswoman’ isn’t officially a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but women are increasingly part of the demographic known as ‘outdoor enthusiasts.’ At Asheville’s Diamond Brand Outdoors, a retailer that sells everything from camping gear to kayaks, women make up about half of the customer base, says Sarah Merrell, the company’s marketing manager. Still, most organized outdoor groups skew toward men. To give women a chance to bond and network through their mutual love of the outdoors, Diamond Brand Outdoors started Diva Nights, held twice a year in spring and fall. The next Diva Night is slated for Thursday, March 20th from 6 to 8 pm at Diamond Brand’s Arden location.
Increasingly, women buy gear, whether it’s a mountain bike, a stand-up paddleboard, or a tent for the family. But stores like Diamond Brand have expanded their apparel offerings in recent years, too. In the past outdoor clothing for women were limited but now there are a lot of options that are “technical enough for camping out, but stylish enough to wear to work or going out,” says Merrell. That shift to ‘lifestyle clothing’ inspired the Diva Nights fashion show, a runway show with models sporting clothing from lines such as Smartwool, North Face, Patagonia and prAna. At this spring’s Diva Night there’s no fashion show, but Asheville bluegrass group Underhill Rose will play. A female trio, the band recently released its second album, Something Real, which was honored with a 2013 AMA Top 100 Album of the Year. Vendors including Mountain Hardware will be on hand to answer questions about clothing and gear.
The discounts are an impressive 20 percent off storewide (with a few exceptions), and the swag bags, available to the first 200 through the door include a free water bottle and hat, plus coupons for additional discounts and food provided by Luella’s Barbeque.
A big part of each Diva Night is its partnership with a local nonprofit. This spring’s Diva Night benefits Girls On the Run, of WNC, a local organization aimed at inspiring elementary school age girls to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. “The organization’s mission couldn’t be a better fit for Diva Night,” says Merrell. “They inspire girls to get out and enjoy the outdoors and be confident.”
While women may enjoy the outdoors with their family and friends, Diva Night encourages a sense of camaraderie among women, says Merrell. It’s a small step toward acknowledging that an “outdoor enthusiast” is just as likely to be an outdoorswoman as an outdoorsman, no matter what the dictionary says.
For more information, contact Sarah Merrell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the store’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/diamondbrandoutdoors.