Camber Outdoors: The new OIWC

After a four-year process to reinvent the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC), the nonprofit has a new name. Camber Outdoors has a refined mission to be more inclusive—and more relevant—and will more broadly support the growing outdoor recreation industry.
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Executive director of Camber Outdoors Deanne Buck discusses rebranding and inclusion strategy for nonprofit formerly known as the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition (OIWC).

After a four-year process to reinvent the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC), the nonprofit has a new name. Camber Outdoors has a refined mission to be more inclusive—and more relevant—and will more broadly support the growing outdoor recreation industry. We sat down with Deanne Buck, executive director, to learn more about the decision and the organization’s goals.

Photo courtesy of Deanne Buck

Photo courtesy of Deanne Buck

1. Rebranding is always a bold move. Why is now the right time for the new Camber Outdoors?
We all hold tight to the belief that the outdoors are for everyone. That’s our driving vision, and it’s why we wake up in the morning and dedicate our lives to this organization.

The best-kept secret of our industry is that we are technology, engineering and math cloaked in fun, passion, outdoors and healthy living. It’s critical that both women and men prioritize and participate in talent acquisition and retention in which our employees mirror our current and future participant base.

“OIWC” limited our ability for every single person, man and woman, to feel like a part of the solution. It was also an impossible name and acronym. People who are close to the organization, including myself, got flustered and blushed at their inability to “nail it.” We wanted a name and brand that felt inspirational and approachable.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, our new name allows us to be more expansive in how we approach our work.

2. How did you decide on the new name?
We started looking for a name that would more accurately reflect and include as many people as possible in our envisioned future—everyone’s outdoors. We quickly moved away from another descriptive acronym, as we wanted a name that would inspire boldness.

The only name suggested to us that is fit for print was “Iron Maidens.” It was a play on “Iron Man” and a nod to some sort of rock-n-roll lifestyle. We retained Anthem Branding, a Boulder, Colorado-based agency, and they were part creative agency, therapist, cheerleader, partner and visionary. They sent a list of potential names over and camber was on the list. It felt like an “aha” moment.

“Camber” is an upward curve that creates a deviation in a straight path. Without camber, the direction is linear; it’s status quo.

3. How will Camber Outdoors be different from OIWC?
Camber Outdoors is bolder in its voice. Essentially, though, our work is the same. OIWC has so much great history, tradition and foundation that we did not want to leave behind. We also recognized the ultimate success of OIWC was including every single person in the solution.

We’ve heard from many partners that, in addition to accelerating women’s leadership and cultivating cultures in which diverse experiences and people thrive, they were also interested in talent recruitment. We’ll build a community of women who are active and love the outdoors, but may not know about the career opportunities that exist in this industry. We’ll work with grassroots organizations with large networks of female participants, and with consumer events such as REI’s Outessa.

4. What’s your biggest fear about the rebrand? 
I have, like, 20 fears that keep me up at night. I think the biggest is that it’s a very bold step that we’re taking. It’s not that we’re just dropping a letter from our acronym. We deliberately made that decision because we wanted everyone to feel included in the success.

The new name doesn’t mean we’re moving away from our core, and it doesn’t mean we’re moving away from women. I’m worried that people who have been with us since day one might not realize that we’ll be more successful when we’re a more inclusive organization ourselves: we are about all women.

We’ll be featuring many more women of color, as well as group photos of women and men together. Inclusion is making sure every single person—from the CEO of a company to the person who just had their first backpacking trip—sees the outdoors as a place for them.

5. What do you need from members to make sure this is a success?
Equity in the outdoors is not about a particular group or demographic. It is our responsibility as good stewards, just as conservation and climate change are. We need our corporate members to commit holistically to cultivating a company culture that is diverse and inclusive—not as a “nice thing to do,” but as a strategic business move.

This story first appeared in the Day 1 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily.

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