By Mary Anderson
Bold Betties, a women’s outdoor gear and adventure travel company based in Denver, is redefining what it means for women to explore the outdoors. By taking the intimidation and logistics out of planning, the e-commerce website has prompted more than 5,500 women in Colorado to push their personal boundaries backed by a community of support. From biking and rafting to summiting Longs Peak, women are comfortably moving out of their comfort zone.
The story of Bold Betties begins with Niki Koubouralis, a businesswoman who, through a series of hardships, mustered the courage to be bold in her own life and encourage others to do the same. Much different from her career now, Koubouralis started off in the commercial real estate business. She traveled across the United States and the world, building success as she went.
“I was, by all traditional standards, a success in my professional life. I was climbing the corporate ladder, getting promoted left and right, making a ton of money and traveling the world. But I was sacrificing a lot in my personal life,” Koubouralis said.
And the effect of those sacrifices came to a harsh reality with the suicide of one of her college friends. Fueled with a determination to get her priorities straight, Koubouralis found herself on a business trip in Denver. Suddenly, her dream to live a more balanced life had the potential to become a reality.
“I saw people wanting to make the most out of life and take advantage of the landscape. I really wanted that for myself and I felt like Denver was the place I could do that,” she said.
But just moving to Colorado was not enough, Koubouralis quit her job and spent half a year “doing all the things that Coloradans do.” With these adventures came a new sense of boldness. “I would come out on the other end having done it and just blow my own mind - like I actually can do that. It’s not as hard as I thought it was,” she said.
It was this inspiration that gave Koubouralis the idea to start her own company.
CULTURE OF BOLD
The company began as a women’s meetup group, with an emphasis on being beginner-friendly. To say it took off is an understatement. Within one week, the group reached 400 members and within four months, Koubouralis launched the e-commerce website the company uses today.
The website allows users to find a chapter in their area, sign up for pre-planned adventures or rent affordable outdoor gear, all in an extremely user-friendly design.
Chapters are led by volunteer leaders, or Alpha Betties, and give women the opportunity to connect with a meetup group in their area. They can be found in more than 25 cities, Colorado being home to the most, including: Boulder, Greater Denver Area, Glenwood Springs and surrounding areas, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs chapters.
With variety as the goal, there is something for everyone to cross off their bucket list, while also achieving something more.
“Bold Betties isn’t just about getting women outdoors, it’s specifically about getting women outside of their comfort zone because when you’re doing that, that’s when you have the opportunity to really push yourself and have a transformative experience,” Koubouralis said.
And with that experience comes a community and sisterhood that reinvents the way women socialize. “The bond that women create over a shared terrifying and intimidating experience is much stronger than the one you can create over drinks or brunch or shopping,” Koubouralis said.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
With experiences in all price ranges and difficulty levels, there is something of interest for most women.
Free activities include day hikes and social hours and can be found on each chapter’s meetup website. Paid adventures this summer range from a Royal Gorge rafting trip in Canon City to a summit series consisting of five 14ers, including a guided trip to the top of Longs Peak, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2.
Interested in going a little deeper? Join Bold Betties for a trip to Green River, Utah, Sept. 30 through Oct. 8 for their River Vision Quest . After spending a week on the river, with two days in complete solitude ashore, you might find yourself leaving a different person than when you arrived.
- Mary Anderson is a senior graphic communication and journalism double-major at Western Illinois University with a driving passion for both graphic design and writing. Currently based in Denver, when she is not interning at Thirst Colorado, she is working to build her freelance career.