In our Brave Spotlight series, we highlight rad women who are taking small steps every day towards a brighter future. This time, we’re excited to introduce you to Gale Straub, the incredible woman behind She Explores, a site dedicated to women pursuing bravery and sisterhood in the outdoors and beyond. We hope you’re as inspired by Gale as we are!
Give us a little background on you and your work with She Explores.
I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire called Barnstead. I didn’t travel a whole lot, but I was a sentimental kid with a lot of curiosity for the landscape of the state. I went to undergrad and grad school in Boston, but I was never really sure what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” After a few years of working in Boston, my boyfriend and I decided to build out a Sprinter Van and travel the US in it. We saved for a year and hit the road in August 2014. The van was home until September 2015 when we got an apartment in a mill town in New Hampshire.
In most ways, I’m still that sentimental, curious kid. I started She Explores when we left New England because I was seeking out a creative community of women who love going outside, expressing themselves, and taking road trips. I couldn’t find it online, so I decided to build it myself. I started out small, interviewing women travelers and finding artists and photographers who wanted to share their work. To date, I’ve had 195 women contribute in various ways to She-Explores.com: through interviews, writing, artwork, and photographs.
Photo Credit: Shoestring Adventures
What is your vision for She Explores?
She Explores is a content site for women who are inspired by the outdoors, whatever form that inspiration may take. I want it to be a community where women encourage each other to take risks. There’s a lot of aspirational content online and in social media; I want readers to be inspired by the content to get outside and travel, not just live vicariously through others. Ultimately I aim to branch out to other mediums as well, I’m in the beginning stages of a podcast which I’m simultaneously excited and nervous about debuting!
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is low maintenance and classic. I like streamlined clothing and the idea that my grandmother could have worn the same pencil skirt in the 1940’s. I don’t prioritize spending money on clothing, so I’m most often found in jeans, a tee shirt and a sweater or a cozy flannel. When I do, I prefer to spend more and buy clothing that lasts but won’t go out of style. I do have a weak spot for boots, though.
What tenant of the Sseko manifesto resonates most with you, and why?
Sseko has so many great tenants! It’s honestly difficult to choose, but I most gravitate towards “Practice Radical Generosity.” There are so many positive benefits to paying it forward. If anything, you will continue to surprise people. I spend a lot of time on the internet and social media and there is a lot of “taking” going on. For example, people populate their social media accounts with other people’s photos but don’t credit them. Big brands use artist’s designs but tweak them slightly so they don’t infringe the inherent copyright. I believe there is much more value in practicing generosity on the web. I want to uplift women and their stories, artwork and photography. I want to provide a positive, fulfilling space.
What is one piece of advice you have for young women?
Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Having a positive inner voice isn’t always easy, but try your best to take a step back and consider how you treat yourself and approach problems. If you think, “She could do that better than I” or “I’m ugly” or “maybe tomorrow”, ask yourself if this is the advice you would give your best friend. I still struggle with this and wish I’d cultivated a more confident, constructive inner voice at a younger age.
What does a “brighter future” look like for you?
I believe wholeheartedly in incremental change and I do have small goals that I’ve set for myself. They include waking up earlier, breathing deeply, and keeping my eyes open in appreciation of the little beautiful things around me. For me, a brighter future will include an openness to others and a more positive inner voice. It’s not that I don’t work towards this every day, or that this future is even quantifiable. I won’t wake up to the future, but I hope to look back and see growth.
Be sure to follow She Explores on Instagram for your source of constant inspiration and reminders to Say Yes to Adventure: instagram.com/she_explores
Check out the feature on Sseko over at She Explores! >> Bravery Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum