Quote: Being ambitious is not something you should apologize for.

Lillian hoodes

President & Founder, TrailFork.

TrailFork creates customizable food packages for backpacking trips. A woman-owned, women-led company, Lillian and TrailFork aim to make food that sustains your adventures and is sustainable to the environment.

Q: What motivated you to start this company?

A: The idea behind TrailFork struck me as I was planning for a backpacking trip in Yosemite. I was following the Paleo diet at the time and having a hard time figuring out what to pack. It occurred to me that I probably wasn't the only backpacker who found planning food for the wilderness to be challenging. I wanted to give my trip information and dietary preferences to a company or app have them put together my provisions. That's essentially the company we've launched.

On a personal level, when I launched TrailFork I had been working in education for about six years, and in each position, I had been stymied by workplace sexism in some form or another. I was over it, and so in the words of Yvonne Chouinard, I decided to “do my own thing.” I was really ready to be in a position where I got to set the culture of the company. At TrailFork our vision is to not only put a quality product on the market, but to create a workplace where the concept of women in leadership is normalized and celebrated.

Our vision is to create a workplace where the concept of women in leadership is normalized and celebrated.

Q: What advice do you have for other women business owners?

A: These are the four things I should write on post-its and stick on my bathroom mirror: Focus on putting one foot in front of the other, the more the merrier/doing things alone is less fun and less effective, being ambitious is not something you should apologize for, and no, you're not crazy.

Q: What has been the most challenging thing about starting a company?

A: I've had to overcome aspects of my personality that I really just thought were ingrained in who I was. For example, I have always thought of myself as a terrible salesperson. I'm pretty soft-spoken and I'm very uncomfortable asking people to spend money. But hey, turns out sales is a pretty essential part of running a business! So, I've had to learn how to speak a bit more loudly act with more confidence. I'm very confident in TrailFork, but I've not always been so confident in myself, and I've had to figure out how to get over myself and my own stage fright, and just champion the product. It's a work in progress.

Q: How can we all be more “green” when heading outdoors?

A: Well first of all, start buying your trail food from the only company on the market that uses compostable packaging! Otherwise, get a cook pot! They're cheap and lightweight—there is no need to bring plastic packaging of any kind into the wilderness. Finally, get politically involved! Our public lands are under threat, and they can't speak for themselves. If you use the wilderness, advocate for it.

Q: Where is your favorite place to hike?

A: That's a tough one. One of my favorite trips has been to the Enchantments in Washington State, in spite of the mosquitoes and the outdoor toilet from hell (it's a long story). But I think Sedona, Arizona has got to be my favorite. I lived there for three years and love everything about it. Even the tarantulas!