Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Friends. I am so excited to introduce you to Amanda. I’ll let her introduce herself, but to be honest, I’ve been stalking her for a while on Instagram because we have some common interests, one of them being the outdoors. And I’ll let her tell you a little bit more about herself,  but this is the reason that I wanted to bring her on. We’ve started a series where we were talking about accessibility and getting diverse opinions, perspectives on marketing. And so Amanda agreed to join me. So Amanda, tell us about yourself, where you are, a little bit about you.

Amanda: So my name is Amanda and I run a business called National Park Capable. I’m a content creator and influencer in Salt Lake City. That is where I’m from. I’m from Utah originally, which has great diversity of outdoors. I feel like I’m in a great state for the outdoors. I have cerebral palsy myself. Mild cerebral palsy. So I feel like that’s what I bring to my page, talking about accessibility and how the outdoors is for everyone. So I try to create resources, if that’s trails or certain gear or just sharing my own experience with cerebral palsy and being a disabled mom. That’s what I like to share. 

Julia: Well and I love following you because I get to see all of the adventures that you go on and I’ve just been adding them to my bucket list. So tell me about how you ended up doing what you’re doing, advocating for accessibility outdoors. 

Amanda: So I’ve always loved outdoors since I was a kid. My dad is a big outdoors man and I mean, we go camping. We used to have a cabin. That unfortunately was burnt down in a forest fire. It’s a sad story. I don’t know why I always share that, but it’s just kind of like where it kind of like my love of the outdoors started, you know? I just remember going up on bowlers, hanging out with my cousins, playing outside. I never was really into hiking. I would randomly go on some hikes if it was at camps that I went on or something like that, you know, but overall I didn’t really go hiking because I didn’t think I could go hiking.

Julia: Tell me more about that. 

Amanda: Yeah. So I just thought that, first of all, it’s hard. And then I also didn’t wanna be a burden to people when I was going on hikes. I would obviously be more slow. I’d obviously couldn’t go on hard, or easy hikes, what people say are easy, cuz it’s different for everyone. So I just decided the end of last summer, I was like, I’m gonna start sharing about it. I’m gonna go on a hike a week. I tried to find certain challenges that I could do. I couldn’t always do them cuz my body’s just different, honestly every day and changes every week.

I wanted to share my adventures and just try to help more people find those trails. And I think it was about five years ago, I found out that the national parks has an access pass for people with permanent disabilities, where you can go to any of the parks for free for a lifetime. So several years ago, I started going to the national parks and then I was like, would that be cool to share about all the different trails that are accessible and not just sharing them with people with disabilities, but just like all ability levels.

Julia: Yeah, that’s awesome. I noticed that at the beginning, you kind of laughed when you said influencer, did you expect yourself to be doing this? 

Amanda: No, not at all. 

Julia: Because you primarily are on Instagram. Well, at least that’s where I follow you, is on Instagram. And Amanda is creating reels. She’s creating stories. She’s doing all of the things, but you did not expect this to happen.

Amanda: No, not at all. Yeah. It’s just kind of one of those things, I mean, I’m sure people have seen Influencers in the Wild on Instagram, stuff like that. So there’s just a lot of things that I just didn’t think I’d be doing. One of my big things on my page is like, yeah, I wanna work with companies, but it’s also like, I wanna help knock on doors to get more representation for people with disabilities. Cuz you don’t usually see, not always, but you don’t usually see on at least the front of the social media, people with disabilities, you’ll see them in magazines or blogs or stuff like that. So you don’t see as much representation, you know?

Julia: Yeah. That brings me like to some questions, since we are a marketing podcast. I would be curious what has been some of your experience or perspectives, like obviously, your goal is to advocate for accessibility outdoors. And you just mentioned, it’s not like people with disabilities are front and center in advertisements. What are some gaps that like business owners need to be mindful of when they’re creating marketing? 

Amanda: I actually just recently heard this term. I think I’ve heard it before, but I mean, it made me think some more, someone talked about inspiration porn. I know it’s a weird word to use. 

Julia: No, tell me what it means.

Amanda: I still need to learn more of what it is, exactly. But just like what we were talking about, you know, a lot of the time people were like, “Oh, you’re so inspiring.” If people say that to me or other people, of course you want to hear that like good thing. They usually mean well, but sometimes I think in sharing about the disabled community, I think they say, “Hey, we’re helping out this like disabled person.” By showing that they’re inspiring, which is like, yeah, we might be inspiring in certain ways, but I mean, I don’t know, just having well intentions and I don’t know where exactly that is.

Julia: I think it depends on the person. 

Amanda: Yeah, exactly. And some people like that and some people don’t like it. When people say, “Oh, you’re inspiring.” Sometimes I’m like, well, I hope just to help someone know that they’re not alone. I was recently at an outdoor retailer in Denver this summer and the guy talked about how someone had said like, “Oh, you’re so inspiring.” And they’re like, “Thank you. What am I inspiring you to do?” Kind of thing. 

Julia: So it makes it practical. And so I can see how, the term inspiration porn, it’s kind of this idea of people using people with disabilities to create inspiration points, but not necessarily where they’re doing anything. There’s nothing actionable or they’re just using it, I know in a lot of communities, there’s this word “tokenism,” where they’re the token disabled person, which is not cool because then it’s just using somebody for their image. And not because you wanna actually be inclusive of that audience. 

Amanda: Yes. I totally agree on that. It makes me think about when I was younger, especially in my early twenties. Sometimes I felt like a project to people. And again, I’m saying this in a nice, kind way. People usually mean well, but you don’t want to feel like a project. You don’t wanna feel like that token, you know, like, “Oh, I’m helping this disabled girl.” Right?

Julia: For sure. I told you before we started recording, I have a child, she’s four months old. She was born with a cleft palate and we were in the NICU for seven weeks. And what you’re saying just reminds me of how many people told us like, “What a poor baby.” Or she’s so inspiring or she’s so strong. And it was all true, but every time people said, oh, she’s such a poor baby. I’m like, she’s just a baby. Yes, she doesn’t have a palette, but there’s nothing wrong per se, like she just developed differently. And I think that that’s kind of what you’re saying, people aren’t projects. We don’t have to have pity per se, but are we including them because we feel bad or because we actually value them?

Amanda: Yes, exactly. And I talked about this actually at a recent, it was like a campfire thing that I went to, about how we can be more inclusive. And most of the time I come to say, just invite us. Don’t just assume they can’t do this. You’re not gonna be able to do this, or I feel bad about this, just invite them and then sometimes, you know, switch it up and do something that is more inclusive, that everyone could do for sure. You know? For me, I don’t want you to miss out on your peak banging and 40 mile backpack trips and everything. I think it’s awesome and you should share that, like how you’re doing awesome things and you’ve overcome things, you know, we’ve all overcome things. I just want to be included sometimes and I know that there’s other people that feel that way, at least that I’ve talked to.

Julia: Right. And it’s kind of one of those things where, it always feels good to be invited because it’s being thought of, rather than like disregarded. Cause then you can make the choice of whether you can go or not. So tell me, so part of your Instagram influencing, you are coming across different companies. Are there any companies that you feel like have done a really good job of including people with disabilities? 

Amanda: Yeah. So funny, cuz now that you ask, I’m like, I should have wrote a list of stuff. Because now I’m like feeling bad. All these companies are kind and inclusive to me and I’m all like, oh man, brain fart. I don’t know if I should say that on the podcast.

Julia: No, you’re fine. We have brain farts all the time on our team. Well, I know you have some and we can always include some of the other ones, but do any of them stick out to you? 

Amanda: For me, I’ve really enjoyed working with, it’s a French company decathlon, but they’ve become more in the US. And I have outdoor, all abilities, meetups. Most of them are hikes. I try to find different hikes of different ability levels. And I do hike once a month. 

Julia: You did one recently, I think. I can’t remember where.

Amanda: Yeah, it was in Silver Lake.

Julia: Oh, yes. I love Silver Lake. I got engaged at Silver Lake.

Amanda: I’ve heard that from a few people actually, since I posted about that, that’s awesome. It’s a beautiful lake.

Julia: So they help sponsor those.

Amanda: Yeah, so they started like, “Hey, we want sponsor this cuz we wanna walk the walk, roll the roll. 

Julia: Right. 

Amanda: Saying that the outdoors is for everyone. 

Julia: And it’s kind of a cool way where they’re actually putting their money where their mouth is. They’re saying, cuz any company can say the outdoors is for everyone, but are they actually empowering people to get out?

Amanda: Yeah, exactly. I mean, they’ll put my stuff on their stories, stuff like that, you know what I mean? Showing they have a meetup or, oh, look at this. You know, they share a bunch of my stuff. I did a reel with them recently, sharing one of their camping, portable, foldable chairs. Because it’s really easy to unfold. It’s easy to set up and I can carry it on my shoulder. I think it’s seven pounds, so it’s not very heavy. It’s been my new favorite chair. It’s something so small like that, we did a tag collaboration. And I’m on their page. It’s not so much like, oh, I’m on their page! you know? This company has a lot of good business, but it’s just like, this is a product that helped me. It might not help everyone with a disability, but for me, it’s lightweight and it does help.

Julia: And it kind of goes back to what you were saying. It’s not just putting the people with disabilities in the background or in the magazine. It’s like, hey, they’re partnering with you and featuring you. So it’s not just like, oh, well we work with Amanda, “kind of.” It’s like we WORK with Amanda.

Amanda: This reminded me of something, like a side note to this. So I recently got a comment. First of all, being an influencer, there’s a lot of trolls out there. And I don’t really like to point out the negative very often, but sometimes I’m like, okay. But I had a reel, this was a while ago and it was talking about how, when brands say the outdoors is for everyone, but you don’t see anybody with like a disability on their page. And also to remember there are invisible disabilities we don’t see. So there may be some, but just in different representation of different disabilities, I guess. 

But the person was all, I don’t remember the exact words, but they’re like, maybe they just don’t wanna give you everything that you want. And it kind of hit me, cuz I was like, okay, I’m not doing this to get free products, you know what I mean? I’m doing this to help with inclusion and I don’t expect to get everything. I’ve gotten rejections, they might not go with me. And that doesn’t mean that they’re not an inclusive company just because they reject me. I’m just not what they’re looking for, maybe. Or maybe they are just talking the talk and not walking the walk. It goes both ways.

Julia: Yeah. It could go either way, but we don’t always know what’s inside people’s hearts or anything. But I do think what is really resonating with me is that while we don’t know what’s going on inside of people, if we don’t have a visual representation, then it creates questions. Like for all of these companies that are saying the outdoors is for everyone, if they’re not showing that it’s for, everyone, are they actually inclusive? It just creates questions cuz then we’re wondering whether they really mean it.

Amanda: It’s true. You say something and it sparks something, but there’s a nonprofit, it’s Disabled Hikers. They talk about how a lot, nowadays, we’re talking about inclusion and everything, and there’s so many different diversities in that, if it’s like our age, our race or things like that. But I noticed this when I went to Outdoor Retailer that the disabled community isn’t being included as much on these panels that people have when talking about inclusion and stuff. Cause I mean, there are a lot of important, we just all need to be included, you know. It’s kind of hard to talk about inclusion cuz we are the biggest, I think it’s 15% of people or something that have a disability. So it is a very big minority, sorry. Minority is a better word. But I just think that we need to make sure that we’re like, and that’s what the Disabled Hiker talked about. We need to be included when talking about accessibility. Of things when it comes to accessibility It’s not just about, is it wheelchair accessible, but it’s like, how are people getting there? And there’s enough in different minorities as well.

Julia: For sure. One example that really every time I see it, I’m like, oh, that’s so good, is lately, Netflix and Amazon Prime will give you a warning if there’s a lot of flashing in a show, in case you’re photo sensitive or maybe you have epilepsy. I’ve seen that in a couple places. Have you seen anything like that where you’re like, oh, that’s a really cool way to help accessibility?

Amanda: I recently went to a website actually. And I remember seeing in the corner, there was a wheelchair. And then also devices. It was a cool, not emoji, but image, or icon. And I wish I could remember what, I’m just online so much. I wish I could remember what business it was, but it was cool that it was somewhere where you could see it. It wasn’t huge and flashy, but it was just somewhere where it’s not like you have to go to the bottom and look at access, you know what I mean? So I liked that it was more visible that way.

Julia: For sure. So we do do that for some of the websites that we make when people opt into it, but it’s a really cool feature cuz then you can change it like. If people have ADD they can change it where it just focuses on just a part of the text. It can turn off movement and flashing.

Things like that are pretty cool. And I think it just goes to show, people don’t have to make excuses for not making accessible, like even accessibility on the internet is possible and people don’t have to make excuses. 

Amanda: It takes work, but I think it’s worth the work. At least, I feel even just in relationships, it’s not gonna happen overnight. You’re not gonna be able all of a sudden do all of these things, you know? So it’s just kind of baby steps, maybe put a little bit of this here to help someone.

I mean, even myself I learned from a hiker that came to one of my hikes that is blind. And she talked to me about what I could add while talking about how accessible a trail is. Yeah. Like if there’s branches hanging down lower or more rocks poking, you know what I mean?

Julia: Yeah. It’s interesting because we all only know our own experience, but that’s why it’s so important to bring those other people to the table, because then they can tell us, Hey, this is my experience. We only know what we know. But even that hiker helped you learn something new so that you can create more accessibility too, just like us.

Amanda: And I love it when people do it kindly too. Like, “Do something like this!” instead of. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Or just because I’m not in a wheelchair full-time, I might not know what that looks like for a full-time wheelchair user. So I like it when people are kind about it.

Julia: Yeah. We can work to expose ourselves to new things, but if people do it with kindness, we’re more likely to respond, too, and make changes. Amanda, this is so good. Thank you for joining me and talking about this and your experience. This is not related to accessibility, but any Instagram tips from an influencer for our audience?

Amanda: Instagram, like how to grow?

Julia: Yeah. Or just anything that you’re like, “Hey, this is working really well for me right now.”

Amanda: Yeah. Can I share two small tips? 

Julia: Oh yeah. You could keep talking as long as you want. Are you kidding? 

Amanda: First of all, just be passionate about what you are putting out there because it’s gonna get hard and there’s gonna be meanies out there. I don’t usually use the word “meanies” but I thought it was funny. No, there are definitely trolls, so at first it was hard for me. And then I remember my why, why I was doing it. 

And then also, I know that everyone says to grow on Instagram, reels, you know. Which is hard, to do reels all the time. I think that is all obviously important, but just engaging with your followers, growing a community on there, caring about what they have to say and what their perspective on things. I have All-Abilities-Thursday where I share different stories about people with different struggles they had with people, with and without disabilities, people have had injuries or whatever, and I’ve learned a lot from those people and just engaging with them. 

As you grow more, you can’t as much, it’s hard. Wish you could follow everybody. I guess it’s just a lot, make sure your purpose is, that you’re passionate about that. Cause it’s gonna make or break you, I think. 

Julia: Well, and what you just said, I like both of your pieces because they go hand in hand, you’re passionate and you’re creating a community, and everything else follows, the numbers follow. And yes, you’re not the only person who is like, reels are hard. I feel like I have to Google things all the time. I’m like that person did a really cool thing and they’re real. How do they do that? Amanda, if people want to visit your corner of Instagram, how would they connect with you?

Amanda: So it’s @nationalparkcapable. You can send me a DM. That’s probably the best. I can’t promise to get back to it that day but I’m definitely open for any questions you have about trails or anything outdoor. And if I don’t know the answer I can send, hopefully send you to somebody else that might know a little better.

I am on TikTok as well. Trying to grow on TikTok. A company told me “You should be on TikTok.” And I’m like, ugh, but it’s another platform. and it’s also @nationalparkcapable.

Julia: Perfect. Well, you’ve heard it here first. You can find Amanda on @nationalparkcapable wherever you do your social media. So, Amanda, thank you. 

Amanda: I have a website as well. It’s www.nationalparkcapable.com

Julia: Perfect, check her out. And if you ever come to Utah, make sure you tell us because Amanda and I don’t even live that far apart. 

Amanda: I didn’t even know that you lived in Utah.

Julia: Well, there you go. We all learn new things. We only know what we know.

Amanda: Yeah, exactly. 

Julia: All righty. Well, thanks Amanda.

Amanda: Thank you!