How Curated Is Helping People Embrace the OutdoorsPublished on 11/28/2022 · 7 min readAn online retailer offers a unique and personalized experience when shopping online which is changing the e-commerce industry.
All photos courtesy of Octavio Rivas
I joined Curated as an Expert back in October of 2021, primarily as a side gig. However, what I found was a community of outdoor enthusiasts, like myself, changing how online shopping is conducted. By intentionally connecting with customers and creating new ways of reaching out to people, Curated resonated with me beyond any other retailer in the industry.
When you shop on Curated, you are connected with an Expert in the category of your choice (Camping & Hiking, Winter Sports, Fishing, and more), and your Expert is committed to your relationship. They will guide you, answer questions, give you tips, and curate a personalized list of gear for you. The Expert you are matched with works with you throughout your time with Curated, answering via chat or even giving you a call—whatever is easiest for you. However, this has become more than just selling gear. In my work as an Expert, my role became about helping people from all walks of life find the gear they need to experience the outdoors.
“My role went beyond just selling gear and became about creating an inclusive shopping experience."
To best understand why Curated resonates with me so much, you need to know a little about my background. I have lived most of my life here in the States but was born in Chile. I found that a lot of outdoor recreation was limited to those in higher classes, excluding those who couldn’t afford the gear. I was really passionate about lowering this barrier to access, so when I lived in Chile, I started my own boardshop to help more people get outdoors. I’m happy to say that my efforts had an enormous impact on the outdoor sports industry in Chile, helping people experience these activities for the first time.
Once I was living in the States, I noticed this inaccessibility even more profoundly. People were kept from participating in outdoor sports not only because of their socioeconomic status but also their gender, ethnicity, ability, and so much more. From language barriers and limited sizing to shop employees doubting women’s abilities and limited diversity in the industry, something had to change. I knew I wanted to be part of it.
As I dove into my work with Curated, I heard similar stories of people coming to the site after terrible experiences elsewhere. Many felt like they weren’t being heard and were directed toward gear that didn’t meet their needs. Some trying to break into a new sport felt belittled by salespeople when looking for beginner gear. Additionally, it’s intimidating for shoppers to enter a store and be told to buy gear that’s more expensive than what they need for their skill level. But at the end of the day, every Curated Expert is passionate about our sport and wants to share that excitement, helping more get people outside.
One customer that I’ll always remember, Josh, had reached out to me after struggling with his riding. He had been snowboarding for two years but found himself constantly falling and unable to progress. I looked over his current setup and realized that he was riding a board that was much too narrow for him. The shop sold him an (expensive) board for someone with much smaller feet—four sizes smaller! Josh was about to give up on snowboarding since he found it so defeating. After taking the time to talk to him and learn about his experience and riding style, we worked together to update his setup, and now he couldn’t be happier!
Later, he sent me photos of him riding on his new board and having a blast. It made me realize that you don’t have to be physically present to correctly fit a person and that it is possible to create a shopping environment where the customer isn’t pressured to make a decision on the spot. Instead, we can work together to overcome whatever barriers you’re facing. I’m happy to say I’ll be taking a few laps around Palisades this winter with Josh and his family when they visit.
In other cases, I got to work with people who only spoke Spanish and who had struggled to explain their exact needs when in-store shopping. With several friends who speak English as a second language, I understood that it can be hard to express themselves and frustrating when they’re not understood. Being able to speak multiple languages, I was able to help people who have a voice that no one had taken the time to hear. As I continue working, I started to notice that not only was I their Expert but also their friend.
“I was able to help people who have a voice that no one had taken the time to hear.”
I loved the community I found through Curated and wanted to continually foster a sense of belonging within the outdoor industry for everyone I interacted with. In doing that work, I was able to create amazing relationships with my customers.
Around the same time I started working with Curated, I started my non-profit group—Tahoe Adventures—on Meetup, a platform for finding and building local communities. Tahoe Adventurers is a group that does a variety of outdoor activities in the Reno/Tahoe Basin. I intentionally created the group to be an inclusive space for everyone who enjoys the outdoors, no matter your race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, or ability. I wanted everyone to find a home with Tahoe Adventurers.
As my little community started to gain a few members doing day hikes and resort riding, I wanted to keep expanding it and making it bigger and better. I kept asking myself, “How can I reach more people?” and “How can I help people enjoy the outdoors despite the barriers to entry?” At that moment it clicked…Curated! I saw the potential in associating my project with Curated as our goals share the same roots—connecting with people.
During our events, I would guide members on amazing adventures but soon found out that many weren’t well prepared. Now, with our association with Curated, I was able to personally recommend them gear that aligned with their needs. Many members found out about Curated through Tahoe Adventurers and it became the place to shop as people saw that could get fitted, have their questions answered, and find gear perfectly suited to them by someone they personally know!
I recall two pieces of feedback that are imprinted in my head…
“Thanks to you, I can enjoy the outdoors like never before and get gear that previously I thought I couldn’t afford” -Juan
“You are connecting people from all walks of life to come to enjoy what our beautiful Sierras have to offer. Thank you.” -Andrea
When hearing those comments, I felt deep within that I am meant to be doing this. Not only has Curated changed the playing field when it comes to online shopping, but they are inventing new and meaningful ways to connect with people.
Most recently, we started experimenting with a unique demo program for the members of Tahoe Adventurers. The program is meant for people who have never used hiking poles due to cost or opportunity, and now, they have the chance to try them out at no cost. Using poles helps reduce fatigue, maintain a good pace, and keep the hiker balanced while on the trail. Demo program members get to experience that for themselves and then can buy the same poles through Curated at a discount. This collaboration helps people access the gear they need to safely recreate, no matter if they couldn’t previously afford the cost of such an item.
The Curated team is continuously trying to improve the customer experience for anyone shopping online, and I'm glad that we're helping our industry become more inclusive one step at a time. As for Tahoe Adventurers, we reached 900 members on our one-year anniversary! We continue to grow and connect with our outdoor community and are always adding more activities. Our first international trip to Chilean Patagonia is planned for 2024!
For those looking for Camping & Hiking or Winter Sports gear, reach out to me here on Curated. Or if you are in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe, join Tahoe Adventurers on Meetup or at Tahoe Adventurers. Our Instagram is @tahoeadventurers, and if you want to follow all my projects and adventures, you can find me on Instagram at @octavius.and.vesta.