This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Mandy Bland, owner of Purple Rain Adventure Skirts, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Mandy a few questions about Purple Rain Adventure Skirts so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Mandy, please leave a comment.
Purple Rain Adventure Skirts is dedicated to providing women with performance apparel that inspires the freedom of adventure without compromising style or function. I specialize in making hiking skirts for long distance hikers. Each skirt is hand sewn in Oregon from performance fabrics. The hiking skirts feature a yoga style waistband and two side pockets big enough to fit your smart phone, map and snacks. Purple Rain Skirts first launched on Etsy in 2014, where I still maintain a presence; however, my web address is: www.purplerainskirts.com, and invite you to come take a look.
Who is your market?
I make hiking skirts for long distance hikers because that’s what I love! Purple Rain Skirts does not do much in the form of formal advertising. I have a couple of trail ambassadors who are helping to spread the word, but otherwise it is my customer’s word of mouth. Seeing a skirt in action on trail tends to spark conversation and that is my bread and butter!
Did you start at a DIYer?
Yes, necessity is the mother of invention! After completing a thru hike of the AT and wearing numerous nasty hiking shorts, I became intrigued by hiking in a skirt. After doing some research I figured I could make a better one myself….and I’m frugal. I hacked up a pair of old convertible hiking pants (the ones that broke on me in the Smokies) patched a pocket and a stretchy waistband on it and hit the PCT. A few miles in I knew I was on to something. Not wanting to go back to a desk job after a section hike, I started sourcing fabric and buying sewing machines on Craigslist. My roommates were very kind to let me take over the dining room table that first year. We’ve grown very slowly and organically. I love being connected to the trail community and encouraging women to get out there and hike. Sometimes all you need is a great fitting skirt to give you the confidence to take on a new challenge.
Backpacking pregnant, Grand Staircase Escalante Utah 2016
What is your goal?
My goal is not to be a big name brand. While I love seeing the women of the Purple Rain Skirts mafia grow I don’t see these skirts being sold at REI. I am currently working with a local woman owned manufacturer to help produce the skirts. This is a big leap for me! As a new mom I had to start looking for help. For 3 years I’ve been a one woman show. It feels good to be expanding and I am eager to get these skirts into a handful of small outdoor stores. Having someone else make the skirts will allow me to focus on new designs. I even have a design idea for pants!!! In the end I want to help build community both locally and on trail. I want to help provide financial stability and flexibility for my family so we can live the life we love.
Oh man this is a tough one! I really loved Holdout Canyon in the Santa Teresa Wilderness on the Grand Enchantment Trail in Arizona. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.
Mandy and son on the Grand Staircase Escalante, Utah 2017
Tom’s Thumb on the Oregon coast will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a short hike to a great view. I hiked that at least once a week with my dog when I lived in Lincoln City.
We are planning to hike the Grand Sawtooth Loop in Idaho this summer. Our little boy will be a year by then and we are really excited to take him on his first extended backpacking trip. We aren’t quite the lightweight minimalists on trail anymore and are learning to take things a bit slower. It is humbling and so worth it.
Purple Rain Adventure Skirts
Mandy Bland – Owner