This is Kyle – our fearless VP of Design, Merchandising and Supply Chain, and unsurprisingly, the best dressed person in our office. He’s been at Toad for a little over a year and he’s already shaking things up (in the best way). Like creating our first ever Pride Tee. We sat down with Kyle to talk inspiration, the outdoors, and what’s on any respectable Pride playlist.
Let's just start big: Why did you decide to make this T-shirt?
KYLE: Our first Pride Tee is about continuing to raise awareness about inclusivity and openness in the outdoors. Obviously, these T-shirts are making an actual impact with dollars (100% of the proceeds are donated!), but more so it’s about showing Toad&Co’s support for inclusivity everywhere.
100% of proceeds are going to the Venture Out Project. Why did you choose to work with this non-profit?
KYLE: We knew we wanted to partner with an organization that was working with LGBTQ+ youth to build their confidence. Getting kids comfortable with themselves and with nature is so important. I grew up in Northern Idaho and found a lot of confidence in the outdoors and sports. The Venture Out Project is a fantastic organization that brings together all ages of the queer community to experience the outdoors. It’s so inspiring, and frankly, so necessary.
The outdoor industry isn't known for inclusivity and diversity (though it's starting to turn around!). What do you think outdoor companies can do to be more inclusive to all groups, especially LGBTQ+ communities?
KYLE: Show up. Outdoor companies need to show up at events and break down the walls about what the “outdoors” are and who “belongs” there. Spending time outdoors is about connecting with yourself, with friends, with nature… There’s no reason there should be barriers to anyone in the outdoors.
History pop-quiz: Do you know the origins of the rainbow flag?
KYLE: I do! It started in the wake of Stonewall and it was a symbol to invite all walks of life to feel like they're part of the greater community. It was designed as a flag to inspire people to rally together.
*Editors note: Woo, 10 points to Kyle! The first rainbow flag is attributed to Gilbert Baker – an Army vet and drag performer living in San Francisco in the 70s – who teamed up with Harvey Milk in the wake of the Stonewall Riots to create a flag for the LGBTQ+ “nation.” The most common LGBTQ+ flag has six colors: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, royal blue for art, and violet for spirit. There are many variations of the classic rainbow flag and dozens of other flags associated with the LGBTQ+ community. Hopefully you’ll see them all flying high at local Pride events this summer.
What does Pride mean to you?
KYLE: For me, it’s about community and letting people be who they are. Celebrate what makes you uniquely you.
How are you planning to celebrate Pride this year?
KYLE: I’m traveling back to Ohio to spend time reconnecting with family and friends. My husband and I started a whiskey distillery in Columbus so we’re having a big party. As for Toad, I’m excited for us as a company to show up at local Pride events this summer (Pride celebrations go well beyond June in California…). At the end of the day, Pride is just a celebration of people who care about people. It’s about supporting the good stuff out there.
Final question – name 5 tracks (or artists) on repeat during Pride:
Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem
Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
I Want Your Love - CHIC
Take Your Mama - Scissor Sisters
Together Again - Janet Jackson
Here's the full playlist.