This One’s for the Trailblazers
On August 26, 1970, women across America went on strike. They sought to break down barriers: demanding equal rights, better childcare assistance, and the right to medical abortion. Today, Women’s Equality Day recognizes their voices and the ones that have followed: the tireless trailblazers who are making an impact and fighting for female equality.
We take the road to joy seriously. Our pursuit is everyone living their fullest lives with optimism for the planet, no barriers attached. Which is why we’re proud to be women-driven – from our female founded beginnings in ‘91 to today’s 60% female leadership team. Additionally, we love supporting and partnering with impactful, female-led companies.
Need some trailblazing inspiration? Meet five totally inspiring women who have made waves by championing for people and our planet.
Sarah Matt, Toad&Co’s VP of Sales & Marketing, Outdoor Industry Association Board Member, and sits on the Board of the 4th oldest brewing company in the U.S.
Toad&Co: Hey, Sarah! Let’s start with your work at Toad. What’s your favorite part about the job?
Sarah: 100% the people – I work with genuinely good, smart, curious people. It’s fun to keep growing and learning from the people around you (not something to be taken for granted).
Toad: Definitely not something to be taken for granted. We really work with the best people! You’re also on the Outdoor Industry Association Board. Can you tell us about OIA?
Sarah: The Outdoor Industry Association by nature of its name is a trade association. Its role is to drive education, collaboration and policy that advances the industry and the outdoor spaces we depend on. Our biggest areas of focus are climate, conservation, access, and inclusivity.
For the industry to grow and succeed we need to keep driving these conversations forward (quickly). The role of the board is to help guide and govern the conversation, and wherever possible, activate the mission.
Toad: Who is the most influential or admirable woman in your life?
Sarah: Simple – my mom. She is the one who taught me I could do anything I put my mind to, no matter how overwhelming or hard it feels. I tell my 17-year-old all the time that every experience (good and bad) shapes who we are, creates a sense of self, and builds our confidence. My advice: keep doing. (I also think Eleanor Roosevelt was pretty badass. She was clear in her views and had courage in her convictions).
Toad: And speaking of family… We heard yours runs the fourth oldest brewing company in the US and you’re one of their Board Members! Can you tell us more about Matt Brewing Company/Saranac Brewing?
Sarah: Proudly. We’re a 134-year-old 4th generation business and one of the oldest family-owned breweries in the country. And while today there is no shortage of great beer options, we were the second craft beer to market after our friends in Boston launched Samuel Adams. As with any business, it has its challenges, but I feel very proud of what my family has built.
Toad: Final question: When you’re not at Toad or championing for the outdoor industry, what do your off-hours look like?
Sarah: While I’m very content with any form of chilling on our Santa Barbara beaches or hiking the mountains, I’m a do-er and my creative outlet is decorating, so I’m often out on the hunt for the next good find or finishing a project. Some liken me to a hummingbird – best in motion (even in my off-hours).
Kate Larramendy, former Toad&Co Head of Design, member of the Conservation Alliance Board of Directors, the force behind our sustainability achievements for almost two decades.
Toad&Co: Thanks for chatting with us, Kate. You were our Head of Design for almost two decades, but also the driving force behind so many of our sustainability achievements. If you could sum up your work for Toad in only a few sentences, what would they be?
Kate: I loved working with Toad&Co. This is a company full of heart and fully aligned with my values and priorities in life. It is a place where you bring your whole self to bear every day. For me, design is about finding beautiful and useful solutions to satisfy a range of needs. I enjoy both the creative aspect and the challenge of minimizing environmental impact while making long-lasting, functional, and completely desirable clothes. It is essential that a product be worthy of the resources needed to produce it.
Toad: All the feels! And tell us a bit about the Conservation Alliance’s work and your role as a Board Member these days (and of course, we're proud to be longstanding partners of TCA here at Toad).
Kate: The Conservation Alliance harnesses the collective power of business and outdoor communities to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places. The dues we collect from member companies are 100% passed through to grassroots organizations working on the ground in their communities to protect open spaces and wild places. Businesses can be a very powerful force for conservation issues of regional and national importance. It’s powerful and exciting work and gets very real when we go to Washington, DC and meet with members of congress. I’ve learned that being a lobbyist is not necessarily dirty work and that dressing appropriately is one of the concessions for entry.
Toad: On that note, what is your proudest accomplishment in supporting and protecting our environment? (Go ahead, brag a little).
Kate: I am very proud of being a founding member of what began as the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, now the Ventura Land Trust. Our mission is to permanently protect the land, water, wildlife, and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for current and future generations. This is firsthand experience with the power of grassroots organizing. You protect what you love and that is strong motivation. It thrills me to no end to see the rapidly growing number of people who visit our preserves daily, taking great pride in the ownership of those acres of healthy native habitat, miles of trails for running, hiking and biking; and stunning viewsheds all around.
Toad: That’s amazing (fun fact: another former Toad is now the Preserve Director at Ventura Land Trust – all in the family when it comes to protecting our planet!). And what’s one way someone can begin incorporating sustainability into their life?
Kate: Start simply: don’t buy, take, or use anything that is disposable or can’t be reused many times, if not indefinitely. It takes some discipline and figuring out a system to always have a water bottle, cup, utensils, tote bag, food container, etc. on hand. Challenge yourself to go a full week without using a single disposable or plastic item, then go a month. You’ll never want to go back.
Toad: Who is the most influential woman in your life, or a woman who you admire?
Kate: I credit Rachel Carson for my introduction to beginning to think about the environment. She was groundbreaking in the 60s and is still completely relevant to any conversation. On the other end of the spectrum, Greta Thunberg is a brilliant, bold, and courageous activist for the climate crisis. She blows me away with the power of her convictions. I love Mary Oliver, a poet whose work is inspired by the natural world. She is a consolation through the hard times.
Toad: We’re feeling completely inspired over here. One more simple, bonus question for you: what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Kate: I walk or hike daily. Having a high-energy dog is helpful. I’m awaiting a knee replacement, so have learned ways to accommodate. I became an obsessed sourdough bread baker during the time of Covid and generally, I love to cook and bake; especially using the food we grow ourselves. We bought a used Sprinter van and are building it out for longer duration road trips. We’re heading to Vancouver Island, BC this fall. Destination: Tofino. The dog goes too.
Ashley Etling, LimeLoop Co-Founder and CEO, leader of the sustainable shipping revolution, founded and built multiple companies from the ground up.
Toad&Co: We love LimeLoop and are proud to be part of the packaging revolution with you. Can you share a little more about how reusable packaging works?
Ashley: We love Toad and are equally as proud to be working with you. Your dedication to sustainability is one we admire, especially reuse. 42% of e-commerce emissions come from packaging. We are thrilled to be on a journey, with Toad, to eliminate that waste by replacing all those packages piling at front doors with reusable packaging. For customers purchasing online, we like to say it is as simple as Zip, Flip, and Ship. You can unzip the package and remove your order, flip a return label and ship it back by leaving it for USPS to pick up.
For each LimeLoop reusable package versus a medium cardboard box the amount of water saved is equal to 26 dishwasher loads. In the other words, more time to spend on the beach or wandering through the mountains.
Toad: We’ll cheers to that! What inspired you and Chantal to co-found the company?
Ashley: Chantal and I started working together at my last tech start-up. Chantal walked in for an interview, and we hired her an hour later. Looking back, it is one of the best career decisions I have ever made. Ten years later, we are still at it.
We both knew there was a need to rethink e-commerce fulfillment from the ground up to support the growing popularity of online shopping and leaned into the opportunity to be the ones who did it, knowing that we would ensure sustainability was at the redesign’s cornerstone.
This passion to move forward came from day-to-day observations. We started talking about the blue recycling bins overflowing, questioning where it all went, and noticed a trend amongst our friends creating space for single use boxes in their home. We knew there could be a better experience for people and the planet (especially those living in small spaces).
Toad: Wow! So, what’s next for LimeLoop?
Ashley: Between us of course (shhh), the next version of our reusable package releases this year. The package takes repair, longevity, end of life, and all those marks on your packages to the next level. We noticed very early on (and you probably did as well), that carriers love to create art on packages. By evolving the exterior to take repair into consideration, we can easily repair/remove the writing on the packages.
Also, we continue to embark on the mission of building technology features that create a better experience for all of us. Imagine knowing that your package was left on your neighbor’s door step or that your kids already opened your package. Upcoming tech enhancements will enhance the visibility into the what, when, and where of your package at all times. Stay tuned!
Toad: We can’t wait to see all of these developments come to life. Switching gears, who is the most influential woman in your life?
Ashley: I may be boarding a fine line of cliché, but, my mom. She dedicated her life to ensuring I had what I needed to achieve my dreams while instilling the confidence and grace to do it.
Toad: One last question for ya: what’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?
Ashley: Eating and hiking my way through the weekend with friends and family is the best. We often joke that while eating a meal we are usually talking about the next meal whether that is a stop at the farmer's market or checking out a new restaurant or wine shop in town. Traveling to a new foodie town is always welcomed.
Missy Park, Title Nine Founder and CEO (https://www.titlenine.com), built a business inspired by Title IX (the 1972 act that made it illegal for any public institution to limit participation in sports based on gender), avid athlete and former college basketball player.
Toad&Co: We love a good business backstory, and Title Nine’s is incredibly inspiring. If you could go back its start and have a conversation with 1989-Missy, what would you tell her?
Missy: I would tell her to do exactly what she is doing... mistakes and all.
Toad: Title Nine’s mission also encompasses believing in women, including “models” being ordinary women doing extraordinary things. What encouragement do you have for women to get outside, or try an outdoor activity – particularly the ones that may feel male-dominated?
Missy: Just do it! It's easier now than it ever has been. There are so many women-led guiding and coaching outfits. California Women's Whitewater Collective, Western Spirit MTB... But hot tip: do not have your boyfriend/girlfriend "teach" you how to do their sport. Bad for the relationship, bad for learning the sport.
Toad: Love the encouragement. What do you enjoy most about being in the outdoors?
Missy: The presence of peace and the opportunity for adrenaline.
Toad: Who is a woman who you admire?
Missy: Billie Jean King. She is someone who has always seen the big picture, fought for a cause bigger than herself, and amazingly, worn the heavy mantle of leadership lightly.
Toad: Final question: what’s your favorite activity when you have free time?
Missy: Fitting my workout into my day, every day. I gave up my car a few years ago and now get everywhere by bike. It creates built-in ramp-up and decompression, and I get to be outdoors every day. Double bonus: I work with a very game group of women and men: our workdays are punctuated by impromptu pickleball and post-work mountain biking.
Sarah Palladino, Toad&Co Sr. Manager of People, Planet & Community; sits on the 1% for the Planet steering committee, our resident geologist and lover of all things rocks.
Toad&Co: Alright Sarah, you’re our final spotlight: describe your work with Toad in a few words (and, of course, what’s your favorite part about the job?).
Sarah: I have the opportunity to make Toad the best company to work for with events, 1% for the Planet giving, culture development, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work, and community outreach and education. I wear many hats at Toad and thus no two days are the same… which is exactly the type of job that suits my high energy and desire to work with lots of different people!
Toad: Let’s also chat about 1% for the Planet. They’re changing the way companies and individuals advocate for the planet. Tell us about your role on the steering committee and what excites you the most about the movement.
Sarah: The 1% movement is huge. If every for-profit organization could commit to giving 1% of sales to environmental organizations, we could make a meaningful difference in climate change and environmental stewardship. I have the honor of being responsible for our strategy and 1% annual contributions. I work with local 1% for the Planet business partners or collective giving strategies, fundraising opportunities, and collaborative volunteer work.
Toad: Rumor has it you were a geologist before coming to Toad. What inspired that career shift?
Sarah: The rumors are true! I have a degree in Geology which basically means every surface of my house is covered in rocks and minerals, I own a rock hammer and Brunton (geologists’ compass), and I will use every outcrop as a teaching opportunity to anyone who will listen. Geology is fascinating because you truly grasp the earth’s history and understand how small human evolution is relative to the amount of impact we have had on the planet. My career switch to Toad was prompted by the realization that I wanted to work for a company that was a leader in sustainability and actively changing consumerism to make a positive impact on the planet.
Toad: You rock! All puns aside, tell us about a woman who you admire.
Sarah: I am a certified Jane Goodall fan girl. She broke down barriers as a woman in the sciences in the 50’s and continues to be an advocate and activist for the planet. To say Jane Goodall is a woman to be admired is a major understatement for the work she has done for animals and our planet.
Toad: One more question: when you’re not working with the Toad team or championing for the planet, how do you spend your free time?
Sarah: I am an avid backpacker and love spending as much time on the trail as possible. Weekly sunrise hikes in the Santa Barbara front range, frisbee with my dog at the beach, and enjoying a patio and beer with my friends.