Higher Power

A life of adventure and moments of introspection atop a volcano lay the groundwork for firm that fosters meaningful consumer connections.

"How I Got Here"

¿Subes el volcán sola?!” (“You’re climbing the volcano alone?!”), the Chilean Guardaparques (park rangers) asked me with incredulity as I registered for the climb. “Yes,” I chuckled to myself. “Correct.”

I began the ascent on a perfect bluebird morning. At the summit, though, grey nimbus clouds swirled across a moody sky. A storm was coming. I searched for a sheltered place to get ready for the snowboard descent, red volcanic tuff crunching beneath my boots.

On this day, and on every summit since, I was overcome with a mezcla of gratitude and accomplishment. As I usually do at the top of each peak, I recorded a video for my mother, thanking her for teaching me tenacity and joy in the face of challenge and dedicating my summit to her own struggles and triumphs. 

Reaching the top of this volcano represented a turning point for me. It was the culmination of the past four months of adventure travel through Chile—alone. It also began a new chapter in my life, one grounded in intention and self-determination. x

 Three years prior, I’d relocated from San Diego to Portland for a Nike change marketing gig that would forever inform my work. Ten years ago, in Spain, I began a journey of ancestral travel meant to understand my multiracial heritage. And 20 years back, I moved from Playa del Rey to Fresno, California, beginning the uncomfortable journey of adolescence in a world that seemed to tell me how I should be, what I should do, and where I belonged

I’d navigated myself to the top of this big volcanic cono with chutzpah, my snowboard, and maps from Chilean friends—but I’m not sure I was truly “alone.” My father’s spirit, my mother’s wisdom, and guidance from friends and mentors kept pushing me. The divine hilarity of the Araucaria (monkey puzzle) trees teased me; what else would I find if I kept going up?

On that summit in late 2014, I uncovered aspects of my true self. I realized that my values—family, community, lifelong learning, and the preservation of outdoor places—drove my approach to not just life, but also work. Whether I was adventuring with my nomadic band of climber and skier friends in the Sierra or the Andes, studying sociopolitical movements in Colorado or California, or rekindling the same sense of exploration that spurred my ancestors to travel from Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines to the United States, I found that community always created a container for belonging, purpose, and identity. 

...community always created a container for belonging, purpose, and identity.

Shortly after that climb, I took the leap and founded my own brand strategy consulting firm, Nomad Creativa, to help brands grow, connect, and evolve with initiatives that make a difference in the world. Since graduating from corporate life, I’ve poured my heart and soul into advocating for a new generation of consumers, centering my work on the customer’s perspective to help teams challenge convention and create connection. I’ve used my skills as a strategist, marketer, and connector to rally purpose-driven creatives around getting more people outside for a dose of NatureRx. Most importantly, I’ve realized that my training, hustle, and willingness to venture into the unknown means as much in the backcountry as it does in a brand program’s vision. 

My relationship with the outdoors spans continents and mountain ranges, but one thing will always ring true: Each day I’m outside, my intersectional identity as a multiracial, multilingual, college-educated adventure dirtbag expands. If my role as a brand strategist is to take concept into reality—to create a path forward building on existing content, ideas, and perspectives to make the future we envision concrete—then let’s envision a world in which we want to live, together. Starting here at the Show, let’s figure out how to make that happen.

My relationship with the outdoors spans continents and mountain ranges, but one thing will always ring true: each day I’m outside, my intersectional identity as a multiracial, multilingual, college-educated adventure dirtbag expands."

This article originally appeared in Outdoor Retailer Magazine's Pre-Show Daily for Summer 2019, under "The Pulse: Marketing" column.

Article Backstory

Dani Reyes-Acosta, Author

This 650ish word article was tough to write! I'd been talking about intersectionality in my work (and definitely in my journal), but this was a first for sharing my story in such a public forum. A little meditation, a few hot laps in the backcountry, and some great proofing from a friend helped tremendously.

Jill Sanford, Content Editor

Jill, a dear friend but also a talented journalist, content editor, and copywriter, helped me clean up this piece before submission to The Daily team.
She helped me own my narrative with grammatical devices, skilled proofreading, and a tough but compassionate eye towards excellence.