BABE #137: GALE STRAUB, Founder @ She-Explores
Last Summer, we came across the She-Explores platform and have since found refuge in the enchanting tales and exciting honesty in all corners of the outdoor community. Naturally, we were thrilled when the founder and creator of the site, Gale, was nominated to be a Babe by complete coincidence. From hiking mountains and drinking IPAs to hosting and producing podcasts, running a diverse media platform, and writing beautifully about her adventures, Gale is a babe who seems to never stop hustling, and we're thrilled to share some of her story today.
Hometown: Barnstead, New Hampshire
Current city: Eliot, Maine
Alma mater: Boston College, Northeastern University
Degree: B.A., Psychology, MS/MBA, Accounting
Very first job: Mechanically cleaning tubes at General Electric Aircraft Engines
Hustle: Founder @ She-Explores
Babe you admire and why?
It’s not an understatement to say that there are hundreds of women whom I admire: their photography, words, and artwork has been featured on She-Explores and I’ve had conversations with them on the She Explores podcast. The amalgam of that woman is one who puts herself and her vision out there, wherever “there” is and whatever shape that vision takes.
Favorite app, website or blog?
I love the NYT column, Modern Love. It’s a series of first person essays centered around how we experience relationships.
Favorite fictional female character?
Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, for boldly working on her night cheese.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
A good IPA, roasting vegetables, and maple syrup.
Favorite social media account to follow?
I love Brandon Leonard’s Semi-Rad Instagram account.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
I don’t want to wish away the present (I’m currently sitting in a tire repair shop in a light snowstorm, ha!) but I would love to be gathered at my aunt’s dinner table with a glass of wine, my mother and my sister, and a night of storytelling in front of us.
What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Audio. Although I edit two podcasts, I’m self-taught. I know that podcast listeners are forgiving and that perfect audio isn’t required, but I wish I had a higher baseline level of knowledge to work from.
The National is my all-time favorite band. I love listening to them when I’m happy and when I’m depressed.
What’s something that not many people know about you?
People are typically surprised to learn that I’m a former CPA and a twin.
Go-to roadtrip snack?
Messy but delicious: ripe avocado, cheddar cheese and hearty bread slices.
Tell us about your hustle.
I run a publication called She Explores for women who are inspired by time spent outside. I also host and produce the She Explores podcast, and co-produce Women on the Road, a podcast hosted by Laura Hughes and inspired by a written interview series on she-explores.com. All three are promoted through She Explores social media handles as well. In the traditional sense, She Explores is a blog, but it’s evolved to become a media platform.
What does your typical workday look like?
It’s funny, sometimes I’m sitting in front of my computer all day, editing audio and photographs, and answering emails. Sometimes I’m outside, talking to people and capturing content. The mix is key—too much of one or the other is difficult to maintain in the long-term.
When did you first get the idea for She Explores? How has the brand evolved since then?
I first started She Explores in 2014 when I left on a year-long road trip in a Sprinter van with my boyfriend, Jon. For me, the time on the road was an opportunity to create something based around my interests of the outdoors, photography and art. At first, it was a pretty simple website with a few categories, but I never wanted the site to be all about me. From the beginning, I invited other women to contribute their stories. The site grew over time, but I grew a bit restless with social media and digital content. I was listening to a lot of podcasts and I realized I wanted to have deeper conversations with the women I was coming across. In the summer of 2016, I launched She Explores as a podcast, and I’ve found it incredibly satisfying because I feel like I’m able to paint a better picture of the women I feature. A year later, I teamed up with Laura Hughes to start Women on the Road as well.
How have your past internships, education, and work experiences prepared you for the work you do now?
I used to be an accountant. I worked as an external auditor for a Big Four public accounting firm and in the finance department of a venture capital firm. It might seem like work as an accountant isn’t connected to creating content and editing podcasts, but I learned a lot about problem solving, working really hard and the power of a good spreadsheet. I also figured out that while it’s a luxury, I really appreciate finding meaning in my work.
What draws you to storytelling and what is your favorite medium within that?
It’s funny, I’ve never identified as a storyteller, but I’ve always been interested in people. As a kid, I fantasized about being able to read people’s minds. If I saw the warm glow of a house on a winter evening, I thought about what it would be like to walk through the house and learn about who lived there through their possessions. For that reason, I love podcasting as a medium because after editing a really good interview, I feel like I got to do that and reflect it back to the interviewee.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Since She Explores has always been made up of feminine contributors, being a woman has greatly affected my professional experience in the past few years. When I worked in finance, I actually worked largely on women-dominated teams, which is unusual for that industry. I was fortunate to never feel like I was treated differently. Within the outdoor industry, women have been “trending” since I started She Explores. At times it’s positive and at times it’s negative because there is more to a brand or content creation than including feminine faces. To someone not familiar with the industry or the content that’s out there, the work you do can be oversimplified.
What is the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
From a consumer standpoint, there are more women than ever shopping and engaging in the outdoor space. Anecdotally, I made a short documentary film about entrepreneurial women in the industry earlier this year. When my partner and I first conceptualized it, it was 2015 and we very slowly filled up a spreadsheet with potential women to feature. By the time it came out in spring 2017, it was so much easier to find women across sectors within the industry.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint any big obstacles, but there have been a lot of small obstacles. In the last few years, I’ve had many moments in which I thought I might “give up.” More often than not, the biggest obstacle was myself disguised as something else. Not to say there weren’t external factors at play, but I can always improve my reaction.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
I’ve always struggled to stay organized and it has a cumulative negative effect.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
Jeanine Pesce, founder of RANGE, because she’s always looking forward; Teresa Baker of African American Nature & Parks Experience and founder of the Women’s Outdoor Summit, because she isn’t afraid to use her voice for others; and Anna Sale of Death, Sex, and Money for asking hard questions.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Figure out what you’re interested in and dive in to play. In terms of content creation (and specifically podcasting), there’s a lot you can figure out on your own. Take advantage of the resources already out there and build from there. Also, remember it’s OK to make mistakes—it’s pretty much inevitable! The key is to learn from them and then keep moving forward.
What does success look like to you?
Success, to me, looks like reaching people on an emotional level. If I get an email from someone who listens to a podcast and they say it helped them through a hard time or it motivated them to try something new, I remember why I work so darn hard.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Walks have always been my stress relief. I love putting headphones on and listening to music or a podcast and moving my body. It’s great to do this on a trail, but I love the anonymity of urban areas as well.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
More often than not, there isn’t a clear path to success, but it’s always going to include doing the work.
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