September 26, 2023

Championing Diversity And Empowering Women: Brittany Coleman On Building ToughCutie [EP 403]

Show Notes

Outdoor-Biz-Logo
Rick Saez
Championing Diversity And Empowering Women: Brittany Coleman On Building ToughCutie [EP 403]
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Welcome to episode 403 of The Outdoor Biz Podcast, brought to you this week by Fresh Books.

This week, Brittany Coleman, founder of a new women’s outdoor and lifestyle brand called ToughCutie joins me. They make premium women’s hiking socks but have a larger mission of supporting women from the ground up and increasing diversity in the outdoors. Throughout her career, which included leadership and analyst positions for several outdoor and active lifestyle brands, Coleman became increasingly frustrated as she noticed male-run product development and research teams not understanding or including women in decision-making. Coleman founded ToughCutie in 2019, becoming the first and only outdoor sock brand with a majority women-owned value chain and joining an estimated 1% of founders in the outdoor industry who identify as a person of color. Entirely USA-made in a WRAP-certified factory and designed using feedback from women, ToughCutie unveiled its first sock – Eve: The Original Ladies Lightweight Merino Wool Hiker – in 2022.

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Show Notes

Where did the idea for Tough Cutie come from?

The idea for ToughCutie came from the experiences of being a woman in business and the outdoor industry. It’s about challenging the idea that women can’t be both tough and feminine.

When did you launch?

ToughCutie launched just over a year ago, but the founder worked on the business for several years before the official launch.

Are you a member of the REI Path Ahead Ventures program?

Yes, ToughCutie is a member of the REI Path Ahead Ventures program.

How did you get involved with REI?

Brittany got connected to REI through an Instagram live interview with a prominent figure in the outdoor industry. Several people at REI saw the interview and reached out to initiate a conversation.

What stage of business development would you say you’re at, still in the launch phase?

ToughCutie has launched its first product and is now working on the next one. The business is continually evolving and launching new products.

Who does all the design, product management, etc. – is it you?

Initially, Brittany was heavily involved in design and product management. As the brand has grown, she’s started working with designers and other professionals.

Why socks?

Brittany’s background was in the sock category of the outdoor industry. She recognized the opportunity to create a women’s sock brand that challenges stereotypes.

Are there socks for guys in your future?

While ToughCutie primarily focuses on women’s socks, men have also purchased and appreciated the socks. There is no specific mention of developing socks exclusively for men.

How many doors are you in, excluding REI?

ToughCutie is in approximately 30 stores, excluding REI.

Who was your first customer outside of REI?

Title IX was the first customer outside of REI. They became a customer after the founder won a competition called “Movers and Makers.”

Where is your manufacturing?

ToughCutie manufactures its products in the United States, primarily in the South, and works with women-owned companies in its supply chain.

Tell us about your first outdoor adventure.

Brittany’s first outdoor adventure was a trip to Mount Zion with their church, where she did a baptism. It was a significant and authentic outdoor experience.

Do you have any suggestions and/or advice for folks wanting to start an Outdoor Brand?

Start by understanding your customer and what problems you’re solving for them. Build a community and invite people to be a part of your journey. Get feedback early on.

Do you have a favorite piece of outdoor gear under $100?

Two favorite pieces mentioned were the Kula Cloth, a pea cloth, and the Lucie inflatable lanterns for ambiance.

What are a couple of your favorite books?

The Song of Achilles” and “The Outsiders” are two of Brittany’s favorite books.

Where can people find you if they’d like to follow up (email, Twitter, Instagram, etc)?

Brittany’s email is: bcoleman@toughcutie.com and she can also be found on LinkedIn. The brand can also be found on Instagram and their website, toughcutie.com.