The inspiration for #iamladyhawk is to feature woman that I have met over the years that are crushing the outdoor and active lifestyle industry. You may not know these up and coming leaders, but believe me you will! These women are putting their passion first, authentically, and without any apologies along the way. #iamladyhawk
I first met Jessie in the fall of 2011, where she joined me on the Black Diamond sales team. At the time the department had 17 guys and now 3 women. Jessie and I immediately developed a friendship that was only strengthened as we navigated the BD “dude factory”, trained for marathons, backcounty skiing, and trail running.
What stands out about Jessie? Her authenticity, ability to multi-task, family, and is one of the most respected and sought out river guides on the Grand Canyon. That’s right, this lady can crush white water, marathons, and makes a mean Dutch Oven pot pie.
Excited to highlight Jessie, who is leading the team at Gregory Mountain Products and spearheading strategies to grow their distribution in North America.
Name: Jessie Fallentine
Hometown: JF: I’m from Virginia originally but have lived in Salt Lake City for 14 years now.
Profession: Sales Operations Manager at Gregory Mountain Products
JF: I like to keep my hands in a bit of everything. I’ve heard some folks refer to me like glue, keeping things running smoothly and I’ve heard others refer to me as the mom of Gregory. Making sure all the kids have everything they need to get it done. Ha ha!
Passion: JF: I’m passionate about being outdoors. I’m passionate about my family. I’m passionate about my work. I try really hard to keep things in my life in balance. It’s super important because if something is out-of-wack then I’m not as happy as I like to be. It’s super important to me to make sure that I get time outdoors with my family that is really my end goal. Working for a company like Gregory makes that easy to accomplish.
Favorite piece of gear?: JF: My running shoes. I can wear them every day for anything I need, I can work in them, I can run in them, I can play with my kids in them, I can hike in them. They are my go to gear.
How did you get your start in the Outdoor Industry?: JF: I first started in the outdoor industry as a volunteer river ranger in Dinosaur National Monument. I worked for a wonderful amazing woman, Pat Grediagin who understood the need to support young women wanting to work in the outdoors. From there I went to commercial white water guiding, an industry predominately male, and became a leading guide/trip leader and woman in the whitewater community of the Colorado River system. Once it was time to start a family I left my winter seasonal job of 10 years at an amazing Ski shop at the base of the Alta Ski resort and joined the Black Diamond Equipment family. Five quick years later and I joined the Gregory team.
What is the one piece of advice you would give women who are looking to advance their career in the outdoor and active lifestyle industry?
JF: Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t be a bitch about it but just find another way. Persistence is key. Also remember that you don’t necessarily have to be the strongest woman (meaning you don’t have to be as physically strong as the men) but you do have be the best at finessing your way through something. Many men that I have worked with have told me that some of the best boatmen in the river industry are women. This is because they can’t “power” their way through a challenging rapid but have to find the best way for them to use their strengths and the strengths of the river (or other people) around them to make it through safely.
Who has influenced you the most in your life? JF: My mom has been my biggest champion for me in my life. Because of that she has the honor of being named the most influential person in my life. She always told me I can do whatever I want. It may be hard but as long as I put my mind to it, I could do anything. However, I have not made it through my life so far without my husband and family and the friends I choose to surround me. They are all incredibly important to me and my choices as well.
What is your proudest accomplish thus far in your life? JF: My children. As much as I have loved the life I lived before having my boys, I absolutely adore them and can’t wait to share the world as I know it with them. They are my greatest creation so far and I am so excited to see what they will make of their worlds.
You are having a BBQ this weekend, what 4 people are you inviting and why? JF: Only 4? This is too hard to answer! Assuming my family is already included, I would want to invite my closest friends Katie, Elise and Lauren. They have been incredibly supportive in both my work, life/family and personal well-being (i.e. my running ladies) and I have a lot of fun with them! That leaves me with one person left. I guess I’m going for an all ladies crew here because I’ve got 2 people in mind that I’d like to invite. The first person is Pat Grediagan (Chief Ranger for the National Park Service in Redwood National Park) who gave me my first job in the outdoor industry. I’d love to thank her for all that she did and has done for me all those years ago.
The other person I’d like to invite is someone I personally don’t know but I heard her speak at an OIWC breakfast at the Winter Outdoor Retailer show in 2013, Jill Layfield, former CEO of Backcountry.com. I was about 5 months pregnant with my second child and she spoke about her incredible career at Backcountry.com. She worked hard and rose through the ranks of BC.com and became CEO of an incredible outdoor company. She has two young children as well and managed to “do it all.” It can be hard to be a working mother and the way she spoke about her life, family and job was very inspirational for me. Throughout my life I’ve been told once I have kids everything will change and I will need to forget about how my life once was. Jill’s speech made me realize that she is proving that statement wrong. I remember sitting in the Grand Canyon on a river trip, pregnant and depressed. A wonderful passenger and mother had just told me that once my son arrived I would forget all about the river and would never want to come back. I love the river almost as much as I love my children and her comment, intended out of love really made me sad. The river was/is so much a part of who I am I couldn’t imagine never returning, even for the love of a child. A fellow river guide from another trip recognized that I was struggling with some very deep emotions. She came over to sit with me. This guide is an icon among river women; she has worked on the river among some of the very first female river guides. She has children of her own, many of whom work with her today on trips. She said to me, you will never leave this place and as a woman of the river you will come back, just not alone but next time with your children. She said it takes a special person to do what we do and if it is meant to be I will be back. Jill reminded me of that in her speech. I’ve been back three times since my children were born, twice without them and finally recently with them. It was amazing!
Favorite quote: JF: “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” – Tina Fey