Women of the Wild: Meet Two Entrepreneurs Making the Outdoors Their Playground

A chat with Alyx Schwarz and Sasha Cox, two groovy ladies who have each started companies to connect fellow nature lovers with the outdoors

Photo by Alyx Schwarz

Want to spend a weekend getting to know the California outdoors, yourself, and like-minded people? Two California women, Alyx Schwarz and Sasha Cox, have founded the companies Shoestring Adventures and Trail Mavens, respectively, to help you do just that.

Explore Southern California with Alyx Schwarz of Shoestring Adventures

Why did you start Shoestring Adventures? Why do you want to share the camping experience with others?
I started Shoestring Adventures while recovering from back surgery. Pain free at last, I devoted my weekends to exploring my home state of California. While I was searching for myself in the outdoors, I discovered an incredible community of weekend warriors and travelers. I hope to make the outdoors accessible to everyone by providing the means, the education, and the community to back it up. A weekend camping trip is just long enough to escape city life, to experience many of California’s stunning parks, and to make meaningful friendships.

Alyx Schwarz | Photo by Cameron Gardner

What have you learned about yourself by leading others?
I am the best version of myself when I am guiding others in the outdoors. It’s where I feel the most confident and the least shy.

What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?
For me, being an entrepreneur is similar to hiking a mountain without a trail. I’ve learned to navigate with my inner-compass and have developed muscles I never knew existed. At the end of each day, I get to look back and say, “Wow, look at that river I crossed, that mountain I climbed, that summit I reached.” Remember to celebrate even the smallest victories because they will eventually lead to a taller summit and a more magnificent view.

What do you love about camping in SoCal?
From Los Angeles, I am just a short road trip away from the beach, the mountains and the desert. I can leave work on Friday night and wake up with the sunrise in Joshua Tree or the Eastern Sierras. The diversity of Southern California’s landscape never fails to enchant me. I still have so much left to explore!

Discover Northern California with Sasha Cox of Trail Mavens

What’s a Trail Maven?
A Trail Maven is committed to teaching, learning, and connecting in the outdoors with other women. She knows how to build a fire and read a trail map; believes strongly in the restorative powers of a sun-dappled trail, a warm fire, a glass of wine, excellent conversation, and s’mores; and isn’t afraid of getting dirty, sleeping outdoors, or Type II fun.

Sasha Cox | Photo by Kara Brodgesell

Why did you start a company to bring women together in the outdoors?
A couple years ago, while backpacking in the Bolivian Andes with my fiancé, I realized I never adventured in nature with my best girl friends; it was always something I did with male significant others. I thought it was outrageous that I’d never combined my favorite people with one of my favorite activities, and I decided I’d take these friends on a trip ASAP and teach them everything they needed to know.

Can you describe a moment where you felt that “this is why I’m doing what I’m doing”?
Last August, we tackled a 15-mile hike in Yosemite that included 6,000 feet of elevation gain. One of the women on that adventure has early onset rheumatoid arthritis—she’s 28—which primarily impacts her knees. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, but her even more so. As we drove back to our campsite, she turned to me and said, “I have to thank you, Sasha, because there’s no way I ever would have taken on a hike like this on my own, and I am so fucking proud of myself right now.” Still gives me goosebumps to remember it.

What do you love about camping in Northern California?  
Within three hours of San Francisco, I can camp deep in a Redwood forest, on the shores of a crisp blue alpine lake, next to an award-winning winery, or on a private beach I kayaked to myself. I can hike, mountain bike, rock climb, abalone dive, swim, canoe, white water raft, SUP, or soak in a hidden hot spring. There’s something for outdoor lovers of every ilk, and the only thing you’re limited by is your imagination.

IMG_9730Gale Straub loves landscape and believes you don’t need to travel the country to see something new every single day. While traveling in a camper van, she started She-Explores, a site for inquisitive women in the outdoors, on the road, and besides.