Looking for a way to spend as much time outside as possible all while working? Meet Shoestring Warrior and Sales Rep Traci Cosmer. Her story might give you some ideas of how to make your dream a reality! While struggling on a college assignment about a dream job, her father suggested she look into working for a climbing company.
Ever since that suggestion, my focus and direction zoomed in on the outdoor industry.
Fast forward to today and when she’s not out climbing or surfing for fun, she’s out selling gear at places like Joshua Tree. Not a bad place to work, right?! Keep reading to learn about Traci’s passion for nature and the community of women outdoor enthusiasts Traci surrounds herself with.
Shoestring Warrior: Traci Cosmer
Agoura Hills, CA
Los Angeles, CA
What are your passions outside of work?
Surfing, rock climbing, and exploring new places! I also volunteer as a SoCal grassroots leader for the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. They actually just launched a membership program and are beginning to expand, so I’m pretty excited about that.
Tell us about yourself!
I am a sales rep working in the outdoor industry and a full time student pursuing an MBA program online. When I am not working, I try to surf and climb as often as possible. I also have a bad habit of planning future trips while on my way to a current adventure.
So I get a little excited about planning outdoor adventures, I don’t see any harm in that!
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
As a little kid, I fell in love with the ocean and the beach. And after my first trip to Joshua Tree in high school, there was no going back. I saw the outdoors in a way I hadn’t before. It’s an incredibly special place, and it’s where I always want to be.
Funniest outdoor experiences/mishaps?
I have a lot of mishaps…pretty much every trip, but that’s what makes it an adventure right?!
One that comes to mind right now is the time I got my car stuck on top of a rock. I was in Holcomb Valley miles down a dirt road after a climbing trip. My car was all packed up and ready to leave, when I accidentally backed up over a rock. My tire had gotten wedged in so tight, I couldn’t drive out of it. There was no service to call for help, and it was a Monday so very few people were camping. I scrambled around looking for other tents and eventually found two amazing humans who helped me get my car unstuck. Needless to say, we are now great friends and climbing partners.
What inspired you to work in the outdoor industry? What do you enjoy most about it?
Ironically, my non-outdoorsy dad! I was in college studying graphic design and for a seminar class, I had to write a fake cover letter for a dream job. With little to no enthusiasm, I made a list of random agencies I could work for, dreading the thought of a future 9-5 office life. Then my dad brought up working for one of my “mountain climbing” companies. Ever since that suggestion, my focus and direction zoomed in on the outdoor industry. It really ignited my pursuit of a future career in the outdoors.
My favorite part about the industry is 100% the community!!
I love the gear that I sell and of course the activities associated with it, but none of it tops the amazing people I connect with through my job.
What are some perks of working in the outdoor industry?
The best perk of my job is the places it takes me to! Even though working behind a booth at a climbing festival is not the same as a climbing vacation, going to Joshua Tree for work every so often is a pretty awesome perk.
Are there any challenges you’ve overcome as a female professional in the outdoor retail world?
Mansplaining. Something that happens semi frequently to me is men giving me advice that I didn’t ask for, nor need. They have no information on my skill and/or outdoor knowledge level, yet they assume they know better. This happens often when I mention that I surf. The conversation usually goes something like:
Male stranger: What length board do you use?
Me: Oh I surf mostly on a _______ (honestly, insert any type of board here, no matter what I say I surf, I would be wrong).
Male stranger: That’s wrong for you, you should be surfing on a ______ (insert dimensions of a board for which I did not ask, nor do I agree with).
Anyone who has spent as much time as me surfing and researching boards knows that there’s an endless amount of factors that go into what board someone might choose, not at all limited to length. The width, amount of foam, skill level, and type of wave a person wants to ride are just a few of the many factors. But I can see how my being physically smaller than you would lead you to think my brain is incapable of making educated decisions.
What advice do you have for women on finding their adventure community?
There are so many great groups out there that want to help connect women looking for outdoor adventures!
Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect!
REI has some women-specific classes and meetups. Outdoor Women’s Alliance has Facebook groups for different regions of the United States. If you’re a woman in SoCal you should definitely join our group! There are also climbing festivals and groups for women like Flash Foxy, Chicks with Picks, and Walls Without Balls (whoever came up with that last one is hilarious!).
What piece of gear are you loving right now and why?
This a tough one for me because I love so many different pieces of gear for different reasons! But I just bought a new Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket. It is my absolute favorite jacket right now! It’s a great weight for the area I live in and it layers well in colder areas. It’s stretchy and snuggly like your favorite hoodie, but also water and wind resistant so it performs great outside.
Where’s your next adventure?
Joshua Tree, and not for work! 🙂
The perfect s’more?
Ask anyone who knows me, I have a pretty out-of-control sweet tooth. I’ve actually experimented quite a bit with s’mores! My favorite combination is a graham cracker, marshmallow, and Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Chocolate. Mmmm…do I have to be by a campfire to have s’mores?
Photos © 2017 Traci Cosmer
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