An Ode to Our Customers — A Collage of Pics and Testimonials

To say we appreciate our customers only begins to capture the depth of our gratitude. With word of mouth as our bread and butter (i.e. our main form of marketing), it’s definitely not an overstatement to say that you all literally brought this dream to life.

Inevitably, at least a couple of times each year, someone asks about hiking in pants, shorts, skirts, etc. in a Facebook group. Our customers always chime in with links to the Purple Rain Adventure Skirts website. We occasionally catch wind of this and get to see all of the love firsthand.  Our founder, Mandy Bland, says …

My heart swells with their feedback and their genuine desire to share their favorite piece of gear. 

So it is with heartfelt thanks to you all that we put together this ‘Ode to Our Customers’ collage. Tread happy (and lightly) out there!

Purple Rain Adventure Hiking Skirts Customer Pictures Testimonials Reviews
Purple Rain Adventure Hiking Skirts Customer Pictures Testimonials Reviews

From Grief to Gratitude: 5 Year Anniversary Reflections

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Five years ago, I started Purple Rain Adventure Skirts from a dining room table in a rented house in Portland, Oregon.  At the time I was living with three dudes, my partner being one of them. They let me take over the main space of the house with a $60 Craigslist serger and the sewing machine my grandma got me in college. I didn’t have a printer, so I literally walked to the library to print shipping labels and I reused paper grocery bags as mailers.  

My original skirt listing on Etsy was for $40.  I had no idea how to value my time or talent. I just knew I wanted to make hiking skirts.  

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But the story of Purple Rain Adventure Skirts actually goes back to 2013, during a cold, dark Minnesota winter. The summer previous I quit my desk job and flew to Georgia to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Everyone has a different reason for taking to trail and at the time I wasn’t sure of mine. I just knew I had to make it to Maine, that my life would somehow be marked by that momentous achievement.

Two months after I finished the trail my brother died suddenly. Perhaps my calling to trail was to build the inner strength of living with tragedy. I moved back home to be close to family. Between grief and post trail depression, I had trouble keeping a job. I spent that Minnesota winter grieving and sewing and dreaming of being on trail, where life was simple.  During my darkest days, the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt was born.

That following summer I found myself back on trail, hiking a 500-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail and wearing one of my own skirt creations. To make my skirt, I scoured thrift stores, hacked up old hiking pants, and patched on a pocket and a yoga-style waistband. Within a few miles, I knew I was on to something.  

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I loved the airflow and the ease when nature called. I loved having my phone, map and pee rag easily accessible. I loved not having to carry around a dry bag ‘purse’ while in town.  

After finishing our trek, I began researching fabric sources and never looked back. With zero business experience, I didn’t’ know what I was up against, and maybe that was a good thing. I just got to work designing great pockets and dialing in sizing.  

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I heard about a grant program through Mercy Corp Northwest. I completed the program that included business coaching and a grant to buy hard assets for the company. I purchased industrial sewing machines and a printer so I could stop wasting time at the library.

A year after launching, I went full time with Purple Rain Adventure Skirts. I’m incredibly thankful to the good friends I made in the hiking community who were and are passionate about hiking skirts. They’re the ones who helped me get early traction, and it’s been a word-of-mouth advertising endeavor ever since.

For the first four years of Purple Rain Adventure Skirts existence, I made every single skirt myself. Only in the past year did I hire someone to help me out. It’s crazy to think how hard I worked in the first few years, especially when throwing a new baby into the equation. While I sometimes question whether I’m simply a glutton for punishment, doing everything myself also helped to put money in the bank and meet my family’s financial needs.

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I love being a small company and am in no hurry to rush the process. It allows me to be at home with my young son and to have a flexible lifestyle. That is what’s most important to me now. I love that it’s become a family business.  Together, we take road trips to events and my partner, Ryan, is my unofficial advisor.

My goal with the business is to eventually become a B corp.  I feel like I owe it to my son to build a sustainable business. I’ve taken many active steps to that end, which you can read about here.  

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When I think about my humble beginnings, I cannot distinguish between the creation of the skirt and the pain of my brother dying. I love my business and the fortune and success it has brought me and my family. But I can’t say I would have done it if my brother hadn’t died. Maybe there is the life lesson in there, and what Wes is trying to teach me. We are made to do hard things and through pain we grow.  And I can gratefully say I am growing the life I love.

LNT Business Practices for Consciously Made Hiking Skirts

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Here at Purple Rain Adventure Skirts, we believe that the catalyst for change lies within us all. Through a connection with nature we see the importance of treating others, including Mother Earth, the way we want to be treated. We are inspired by the Leave No Trace principles of the backcountry and strive to apply the same philosophy to business.

With this in mind, we’d like to share how we incorporate sustainable and earth-friendly practices when making hiking skirts. In no particular order, here are some of the actions we take …

- We purchase OEKO-TEX certified fabrics. This means the fabrics we use are not only free of harmful chemicals, but also have been produced in a way that respects human rights, labor standards and the environment. (Note: our goal over the next year is to move toward fabrics made from recycled content. We also would eventually like to incorporate performance wool when the price comes down and sourcing is more transparent).

- We purchase deadstock fabric, which is industry speak for leftover material from large manufacturers. Purchasing deadstock fabric keeps it out of landfills and reduces demand for new materials.

- We resell usable fabric remnants on our site. You can get 6 ounces of polyester/spandex knit performance fabric woven with moisture wicking yarn for $4.99. It’s perfect for headbands, hairbands, crafting or costumes.

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- We reuse fabric scraps ourselves, making Halloween costumes and new clothes for ourselves and our families.  

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- When demand grew to more than we could keep pace with ourselves, we hired a local seamstress here in Medford, Oregon. This reduces shipping impacts and keeps the money and job local (lord knows we need it in Medford!). Our seamstress loves the environment too and actively works to cut waste. She’s also a kickass entrepreneur mama. Our founder, Mandy, and her seamstress literally hug after each meeting.

- Purple Rain Adventure Skirts International HQ is in Mandy’s home. Carving out a space for her studio within her home lessens utility usage. To offset the electricity that does get used to create our hiking skirts, we purchase energy blocks from Blue Sky energy. This means our energy comes from green sources, such as solar and wind power.   

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- When shipping out our skirts and kilts, we use mailers made from 100% recycled materials that are also reusable. We also use 100% recycled paper for packing slips. And, Mandy walks all Purple Rain Adventure Skirt orders to the post office, eliminating fossil fuels consumption. (Note: we also avoid plastic wrap, which often covers new apparel items).  

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- This fall we took the step of becoming an Oregon Benefit Corp for Good, meaning we’re now recognized as an Oregon Benefit Company. This is the first step in the stringent process to eventually become a certified B Corp. It demonstrates our commitment to the Triple Bottom Line of people, planet and profit.  

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- We offer the option of custom orders. People can have a skirt made to their measurements.  This means getting a skirt or kilt they really like and that actually fits, leading to less consumption (i.e. having one great black skirt versus two or three you only kind of like).

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- Purple Rain Adventure Skirts are built to last. We design our hiking skirts and kilts to withstand six months of daily hard wear and tear. We have customers who continue to wear their skirts even after they complete their thru hike.

After Mandy’s AT hike, she distinctly remembers throwing out her clothes at a hotel in Portland, Maine. And, we know many people who ceremoniously burn theirs. But continue to wear them, gasp!!!

The picture below shows a customer with Mandy at PCT Days. Mandy made her a custom skirt for her 2016 thru hike and she is still wearing it. We see this as a true testament to paying a little extra for what you really want and what you will really use. Mandy fondly remembers making that skirt and wondered how it would work for her. She even put a little pee rag loop on it. “It was such a treat to meet her and see how the skirt held up,” Mandy said.  

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Parting Thoughts on Sustainability

We see sustainability as more than just fabric sourcing. It has to do with our everyday choices, like walking instead of driving and bringing your own bag to the grocery store and your own to-go containers to restaurants when dining out.

It is making choices that decrease demand for fast fashion and single-use plastics. It's making a conscious decision about what we choose to bring into our home in the first place. Will we actually use it or will it end up hanging in the closet or in the goodwill pile (most of which ends up in landfills anyway)?

Mandy says …

I get easily overwhelmed when I think about climate change. I'm scared for the kind of world my son will grow up in. We live in a beautiful place that has hazardous air quality for at least a month a year from wildfires. And I've seen this increase just in the short time we have lived here.  

As a business owner that contributes to consumerism I feel an obligation to do business with an Earth first and kindness approach.  When it comes down to it, our daily actions are what really matter. We have the power to make change with how we spend our money. Vote with your dollars, believe me, businesses will listen.

We are all in this together and what we do today shapes the world for our children, one skirt at a time.

 

Do you feel as passionately about environmentally friendly business practices as we do? Share your thoughts with us via a comment below!

Photo Essay: How Purple Rain Adventure Skirts Are Made!

All of our hiking skirts and kilts are made by hand here in Oregon, either by our founder Mandy Bland or by a local seamstress. Today, we’d like to offer you a glimpse into the production process through a photo essay showing how Mandy starts with bolts of technical fabric, transforming the material into Purple Rain Adventure Skirts.

Questions on how we make our skirts, where the material comes from or how Mandy balances raising a son with finding time to build her brand? Leave a comment below!

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Why Backpacker Mag, Adventure Alan & Others Enjoy Hiking in a Skirt!

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Here at Purple Rain Adventure Skirts we believe to our core that hiking in a skirt is an AMAZING alternative to hiking in pants or short. But as the old slogan goes … don’t take our word for it! Today, we want to share excerpts from several reviews that tout the benefits of hiking skirts, including a couple from male converts.

UL Weekend Warrior

Until this year, I probably would have laughed at the idea of wearing a skirt. I’m a big, burly man, after all! After hearing lots of good things from hiking friends (including other men), I decided to give skirts a more serious look …

I’ve been hiking in this skirt for a few months now, and I love it. It helps keeps my undercarriage cool and dry in hot weather, but can be paired with running tights or base layers for use in the winter. The skirt also provides an improved range of motion over pants or shorts. You don’t have to worry about splitting your pants when you’re wearing a skirt! This product also makes potty breaks simpler, especially if you decide to go commando! ...

All-in-all, this is a great product. If you’re a man, be sure to ask questions about the sizing, and you’ll be fine. The biggest question is: Are you man enough to hike in a skirt?

Full article: https://ulweekendwarrior.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/purple-rain-adventure-skirts/


Backpacker Magazine

Think skirts are just for business casual? One tester wore this one in everything from downpours to desert heat on thru-hikes of the PCT, CDT, and AT. It’s still her favorite layer: “The airflow prevents chafing, it’s easy for me to change baselayers while remaining modest, and the poly/Lycra blend lasted for literally thousands of miles on the trail,” she says. But what really won her over were the four pockets. There are two large enough for a topo map or phablet, and two smaller ones perfect for lip balm and snack bars. In lieu of a slit for mobility, the Lycra offers enough stretch to accommodate scrambling over “Volkswagen Beetle-size” boulders, she says.

Full article: https://www.backpacker.com/gear/purple-rain-skirt


Garage Grown Gear

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Let me just say it flat out: this is less of a review of Purple Rain Adventure Skirts and more of a straight up recommendation. This hiking skirt with pockets is hand-sewn in Oregon, fits and flatters, and is rugged enough to hold up to all that nature will throw your way.

Shortly after receiving my skirt – sage green with a stretchy grey yoga-style waist band – I e-mailed the company’s founder, Mandy Bland, to thank her. Here’s what I blurted out, ya know, to kick the e-mail off: “I'm so in love! It's the best skirt I've ever owned.” And, I truly feel that way.

Full article: https://www.garagegrowngear.com/blogs/magazine/purple-rain-skirts-why-we-love-this-hiking-skirt-with-pockets

Outside

In 2013, Mandy Bland hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in a homemade skirt. The benefits—from increased airflow to fast transitions—were obvious immediately. “A few miles in, I knew I was onto something,” Bland says. Whenever she got cold, she just added a base layer under the skirt. Back at home, she started Purple Rain Adventure Skirts, which turns out products featuring comfortable yoga-style waistbands, large Velcro pockets, and stretchy quick-dry fabric. Bland still makes each piece herself in Oregon.

Full article: https://www.outsideonline.com/2072606/5-adventure-dress-companies-women-who-get-after-it

Adventure Alan

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I guess I’m at an age where I am comfortable with who I am. I am not going to let societal stereotypes deter me from checking out a possibly more comfortable and efficient way to hike.

And it’s clear that there are many women hikers kickin’ some ever lovin’ ass on the trail—like my fabulous wife and the record setting Heather (Anish) Andersen who is besting the men. If they see benefits and efficiencies in hiking in a skirt, I am interested.

As a man, I had some concerns about people’s reaction to me wearing what is essentially a skirt—especially from other men. But it turns out other hikers are pretty chill about it. I’ve had zero negative comments and more than a few compliments on my kilt (all women) but that’s just fine! …

Hiking skirts have advantages over shorts. Heather (Anish) Anderson, who currently holds the unsupported records for the PCT and the AT hikes in a dress or skirt most of the time.

  • Bio breaks are faster with a skirt. Dramatically so for women who also use the “pee rag system.” But even for men, bio breaks are faster and more convenient.

  • They are more comfortable than shorts. In warm weather, there’s a ton more ventilation.

  • Hygiene. There’s a lot more below the belt ventilation and drying going on. This equals better hygiene. When used without underwear there’s even more ventilation and less environment to breed bacteria.

  • There’s far more range of motion that you might expect in a skirt. Neither of us had any problems taking huge strides over large trees blown down on the AT.

  • A very nice pocket arrangement. Two on each hip (one Velcro security pocket, one drop in pocket) with the drop in pocket being the perfect size for your smartphone.

  • For women, you can look more upscale for a town visit and/or at a restaurant. (Men maybe not so much)

Full article: http://www.adventurealan.com/why-would-a-man-wear-a-hiking-skirt/


Darwin on the Trail

Love it even more than my other skirts! I was immediately interested in the Purple Rain Adventure skirt due to the stretchy and soft waistband which is extremely comfortable. I was also attracted by the fact these skirts are handmade and designed by a female long-distance hiker, Mandy “Purple Rain” Bland who tested this skirt design herself on the PCT.

Full article: https://darwinonthetrail.com/2018/09/15/purple-rain-adventure-skirt-review/

Backpack Gear Test

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For the last two decades, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably, but my base weight is under 14 lb (6.35 kg). I am primarily a tarp or tarptent camper who averages over 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero (0 F/-18 C) temps ...

I love this skirt so much that I have bought two more in different color combinations. This is significant as I really don't purchase much new these days, especially more of the same product. So what makes this skirt so coveted? First it is so well designed that I barely notice that I am wearing it. The comfort level is huge between its light weight and relaxed fit. There are no areas of constriction and the freedom of wearing it is amazing. Nothing binds when I am climbing up and down.

Full article: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Clothing/Skirts%20and%20Kilts/Purple%20Rain%20Adventure%20Skirt/Owner%20Review%20by%20Gail%20Staisil/



Win one of our new PURPLE hiking skirts! (Entry form at bottom)

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After several years of not being able to find purple fabric, we’re thrilled to announce that Purple Rain Adventure Skirts now offers PURPLE skirts!!! And better still … you can WIN one! 

The GIVEAWAY ENTRY FORM is at the BOTTOM OF THIS POST, but first we want to share a bit of the backstory with a short Q&A!

Purple Hiking Backpacking Skirt

How are the purple skirts made? 

Because we were unable to find purple fabric, we decided to have it custom dyed using an environmentally friendly process. Our purple fabric has a STANDARD 100 certification done by OEKO-TEX.

This is a worldwide consistent, independent testing & certification system that tests for harmful substances used during all stages of production (raw materials, intermediate, and end product). You can learn more about it here

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How did you select that exact shade of purple? 

Instead of making the choice ourselves, we put it out there to our customers and community. We posted several shade options on social media and asked people to vote. The one we went with was the clear winner. It was a lot of fun! A huge thanks to everyone who gave us their input! 


How did Purple Rain Adventure Skirts get its name? 

It’s a nod to our founder Mandy ‘Purple Rain’ Bland. Here’s how she tells the story… 

Flat out I named myself and I'm not shy about it. Other hikers were not very creative trying to name me 'High Energy' or 'Manda Panda'. I let it go for awhile until I started dreaming about a rain skirt.  

My trash bag skirt just wasn't cuttin’ the mustard after a couple hundred miles and I was in awe of all the handmade gear out there. Another female hiker had made her rain skirt. She told me where I could buy the fabric online and that they had all kinds of colors. I got giddy about the fact that I could make my own PURPLE rain skirt. 

I was currently on trail so I sent the request to my mother who, bless her heart, ordered the fabric and made me one from a tutorial online. I wore that thing everyday for the rest of my AT hike.  

I loved that the name was something tangible, I had a purple rain skirt. But also that I was from Minnesota for the Prince influence. 

I had been living in Portland, OR before I left for the hike so rain wasn't a big deal to me.  I was definitely the hiker who kept on hiking in the rain while others stopped at shelters … or never left them, all because of that purple rain skirt.

Check out the pics below showing Mandy’s evolution from trash bag skirt to her homemade purple rain skirt (the true original!!!).

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Any other fun facts to share about the purple hiking skirts? 

The first year Purple Rain Adventure Skirts was in business Mandy found 20 yards of an awesome purple fabric. She way overpaid for it, but there are a handful of ladies still out there that have that original skirt. 

“It feels good to finally be offering another purple skirt,” Mandy says. “About damn time!” 


GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! 

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Use the form below to enter to win a one of our NEW purple hiking skirts! Entering your email address will unlock opportunities for bonus entries, including sharing about the giveaway on social media, buying a skirt or kilt, and following us on Instagram. 

The winner picks her/ his size.

Want to learn more about the purple color skirt? Check it out here!