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The More, The Merrier

Posted on June 04, 2024Written by 1Berkshire Marketing Team
Updated on June 25, 2024

Rachel Hailey, founder of DEI Outdoors, stands on a zipline platform with full harness gear on, in front of a group outdoors

1Berkshire Spotlight on Rachel Hailey of DEI Outdoors

A conversation with entrepreneur Rachel Hailey (She/They)

Founder and Transformationalist of DEI Outdoors, Rachel Hailey discusses welcoming marginalized groups to experience unparalleled natural beauty and community in the Berkshires.

You’re originally from the Boston area. What brought you to the Berkshires?

Being in the outdoor recreation and education sphere, the Berkshires kind of had it all for me with the natural beauty. I saw what a huge opportunity there was for outdoor activity and employment in that. The first several years, I was living in Savoy and working in Franklin county with Zoar Outdoor. Then my daughter and I moved to North Adams. When I started my business, it was even more of a connection to the community. Additionally, it’s not too far away from my family on the south shore of Boston.

Tell us about your business, DEI Outdoors?

We provide equity and inclusion services for the outdoor space, bridging the gap of folks that are forward in the outdoor space and those that have been marginalized or minimally represented in the outdoor space. We work in four sectors: outdoor experiential education for youth and college programming, outdoor recreation, conservation and land stewardship organizations, and outdoor retail brands. 

How has your business grown since launching it in 2019?

I officially became an LLC just before everything shut down with the pandemic. So, the first year was a bit touch and go. We did a lot of our programming virtually. I was on a mission last year to grow the business as much as I could and really increase our reach and our impact and hire some folks, especially here in Berkshire county, that could take over a lot of the local trainings that we’re doing here in New England. I’m based out of North Adams, but we’re all over the country now, which is exciting.

We’re also introducing an outdoor pursuits program in spring of 2025 that is centered on getting marginalized groups outside in the Berkshires. There will be organized hiking trips and things like that that are for folks who are from more city-centered urban lifestyles who want to come out to play in the Berkshires. I feel the more the merrier, where we get as many folks from as many places to come here as we can because the natural beauty and the community is unparalleled. 

What about the Berkshire lifestyle do you love?

I can step out my back door with my dog and my daughter, and just a few minutes up the road I have this gorgeous hike where I hardly see anyone. It’s the easy access  to nature for me but also the feeling of community. There’s a warmth and a friendliness here that I haven’t experienced in mountain towns anywhere else. I know there are other places on the planet where you can have similar access, but there’s something about the Berkshires that feels really welcoming and homey to me.

Describe your perfect Berkshire weekend, one in which you visit all your favorite places?

Whenever family comes, I turn into a Berkshires nerd—I want to take them everywhere! But if I had to cherry-pick a few places, the perfect weekend would look like dinner at Public or Mezze, a hike up Florida Mountain, up on North Pond, definitely MASS MoCA, and then to Pittsfield. We love the Berkshire Museum. And any Berkshire Natural Resource Council property…It’s hard to narrow it down!

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