This is the third in a series about women in the Utah outdoor recreation and adventure travel business. My name is Emilia Wint and I’m a member of the US Freeskiing Team. As the GOED intern, I’ve been traveling around the state to hear the stories of the women doing business in the coolest industry in Utah. Please note the opinions expressed by the interviewees do not necessarily represent that of GOED, but they promise to be interesting!
Julia Geisler and I met over coffee in Park City and were interrupted several times as we both ran into people we knew. Julia is the Executive Director of the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) and also operates her own unique guiding service. We talked about climbing, yoga, starting your own business and conservation.
Park City Yoga Adventures
Park City, UT
- What brought you to Utah and why did you stay?
I grew up in rural Maryland at a little ski resort called Wisp. I came West to ski. I stayed after I was introduced to climbing. That was nine years ago. I chose to come to Park City because of the public transit. I was deciding between here and Tahoe.
- With all the other outdoor recreation companies based in Utah what made you decide to set up shop?
I had been guiding, really I’d been in the industry my whole life. I thought “I can do this myself.” I worked at the Oakley school outside Park City, I was a yoga instructor, and I had been guiding for White Pine Touring for years so I already had experience.
I offer something you can’t get anywhere else in the world. That’s what’s gotten me the exposure. The New York Times did a piece on my Midway Crater stand up paddleboard class. I cater to people who don’t want to just ski or mountain bike, but want to try something new and eclectic.
- How do you set your business apart from the competition? Or, What is your unique sales proposition?
I don’t try to compete with everyone else. It’s a tight knit community and everybody works together. What I offer is unique. The places I go, my guides, my personality.
- What do you value about doing business in Utah?
Park City is different than Utah as a whole. It’s internationally recognized, everyone has heard of it. The Park City Chamber and the State’s Visit Utah have done a great job. They’ve marketed the town so well and it’s a really supportive community.
- What could be improved in regards to doing business in Utah?
Health insurance. It’s hard as a small business. Other than that I don’t find a lot of road blocks.
- As a woman in business, what are the challenges you face vs. those faced by your male counterparts?
Both my businesses as a guide and as Executive Director of the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance are certainly male dominated. However, the males I interact with are psyched to work together.
- Are there aspects of your business in which you feel you have an advantage as a woman?
People trust me. They see I have a caring nature and have their best interest at heart.
- What was an unexpected obstacle you faced when starting your business?
I tried to offer too many things and I didn’t narrow it down. I had to realize I can’t do every activity available in Utah and do it well and offer a good experience. Finding transportation has also been an obstacle. There is no affordable public transit to the crater in Midway which is my main attraction.
- Now that you have an established business, can you look back and identify any misconceptions you had about starting an outdoor rec company that turned out not to be true?
I approached starting my own guiding outfit as a hobby. I didn’t think this would be my full time job. When someone called me for the first time to book a trip I was so surprised! I don’t put my eggs in one basket, that’s why I run this small business and I have a full time job with the SLCA.
- Would you recommend an outdoor enthusiast get into this business? What advice would you have for them? If not, why?
If you can get into it with other things to support yourself. Like I said I don’t like putting everything in one basket. If it takes off then play it smart, invest wisely. Remember that it’s seasonal in a ski town.
- Has anything turned out to be easier than you first anticipated? What’s been the most pleasant surprise in starting and running your business?
I was able to bring on great guides. I thought that would be harder. I cherry picked them, I was picky about who I hired. That made it easier to let go of the reins and trust them to do a good job with clients.
- What misconceptions about Utah do you encounter when working with your clients?
That you can’t drink and it’s a dry state. It’s kept Utah off the map just a little bit.
- What do you tell people when they ask what it’s like to live in Utah?
It’s a utopia. The outdoor recreation, the weather, the people. The state has a lifetime of recreation options to explore.
- What is the best advice your parents have given you?
I ask them for advice every day. My dad being in the tourism industry has provided me with a lot of advice, he’s my rock. They want me to be happy and they support me and are proud of me no matter what I take on.
- Is there anything else you want to add?
Being in recreation as well as conservation you realize we’re walking a very fine line. We need to take care of the natural resources in which our recreation depend. We need to make some changes and protect our backyard environment.