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2014 Entrepreneur of the Year: Bonta
New Business Spotlight - Call of the Wild Adventures Inc
The Bend Chamber New Business Spotlight is devoted exclusively to highlighting existing and new members to the Bend Chamber.
By Courtney Linville | Bend Chamber
Adventures Call For Women
Looking for adventure? Want to trek in Nepal? How about visiting Norway? Is backpacking around Thailand more your speed? If you are a women and an adventure traveler, then you need to learn more about Call of the Wild!
Owner Emilie Cortes is passionate about her business and wants to help all women check a few boxes off of their “bucket list.” Whether looking for mellow day hikes or more strenuous trekking, Cortes has the adventure for you.
So strap on your most comfortable hiking shoes and learn more about Call of the Wild!
Q: How did you get started?
Cortes: Call of the Wild is the longest running women’s only adventure travel business and was founded in 1978…when I was just four years old! Carole Latimer ran it for 30 years and then a friend of mine, Kate Reid, purchased the company in 2008. I served on the Advisory Board for the last four years, so I was in the know that the economic downturn was hard on the company and the first to hear that Kate was preparing to sell the business.
The timing was right as I had just reached the end of my tolerance for a demanding and stifling career in finance in San Francisco. I felt as if I was leading a dual life – businesswoman by day and adventurer by night. My old boss used to say that she thought I wasn’t putting enough energy into my work if I still had the energy to go ice climbing over the weekend, when in fact it was the decompression and perspective I gained in the mountains that consistently enabled me to be a top performer. I decided to take the plunge and for the first time, focus on bringing my passion and my vocation together. I acquired the business in November 2012 and moved to Bend to better align my lifestyle with my new business!
Q: What products and services do you offer?
Cortes: We offer adventure trips for women of all walks of life, fitness, and ages. We had a woman that was 74 years old on our Nepal trek in the Everest region this past November – she is my idol!
When women want to include their male partners, family members, or friends, we run custom private trips, but all of our branded trips are for women only. The trips are primarily located in the Western US and internationally (Nepal, Thailand, Iceland, Tanzania, and Norway trips are all happening in the next year). They range from 3 days to 3 weeks and from mellow day hiking trips with dinner and lodging each night to strenuous backpacking to trekking in developing countries. In a nutshell, we like to say that we are in the “bucket list business.”
Q: What do you feel makes your business so unique?
Cortes: Three factors differentiate us from other adventure travel outfitters. First, we serve the women’s adventure travel market and use female guides, employees, and partners wherever possible. It was remarkable to me in the beginning how unique it felt to be on trips with only women, led by female guides, and my goal is to make this feel more commonplace. This environment is especially supportive for women that are trying something challenging and don’t want to feel bad if they were the only woman in a co-ed group having a tough time.
Second, we are known for our gourmet backcountry food and we still use Carole Latimer’s famous original recipes. At the end of a long day of hiking or backpacking, normally everything seems to taste great. However, imagine eating homemade Puttanesca Polenta or Pad Thai on the trail as your reward for a full day of activity!
Finally, we are focused on sustainability to the core. We are corporate members of Leave No Trace, a non-profit dedicated to education about minimizing our impact on the environment where we recreate. We take care to understand where all of our ingredients come from, focus on reducing paper use and post-consumer recycled products, and even our commercial banking and merchant credit card processing are with conscientious institutions who actively support renewable energy and non-profits.
Q: What do you want Chamber members to know about your business?
Cortes: We are ecstatic to be a part of the friendly and supportive Bend and greater Central Oregon community and believe in giving back to our community. We are transferring our business wherever practical to local partners, working on developing new trips to the area to bring more tourism to benefit other local businesses, and supporting the local environment.
For example, we organized a Leave No Trace workshop for the Bend Hiking meet-up group on June 25 at Shevlin Park, and we have just signed a formal agreement with Smith Rock State Park to be their second corporate partner, focusing on maintaining their new native plant garden at the Welcome Center. Our first weeding extravaganza was on June 8 right next to the yurt. We look forward to playing an active role supporting the community.
Q: What is your favorite part of this business?
Cortes: Hands down, it’s spending time with the clients! I’m stuck behind the computer more than I originally anticipated, but when I talk with my clients on the phone about a trip, meet them for lunch when they are passing through town, and especially when I’m out in the field with them, it reminds me of my mission – to inspire and empower these women to summit their own personal mountains, however high.
Q: How can members find out more about your business?