West Sonoma County, California, is known for alternative lifestyles and abundant landscapes. It is an enchanting mix of redwood forest, coastal prairie, oak woodland, farm and pastureland, and the close-knit community makes up the most progressive group of foodies, activists, urban farmers, artists and adventurers I’ve ever known.
For three years, I homesteaded on an old Gravenstein apple orchard. Our small community, “The Branch,” grew into its name as we slung cargo nets high up in redwood trees, built gardens and trails, tended to the native plant communities, restored the old orchard, raised ducks, built an art studio and a woodshop, and even converted an old diesel school bus into a guest house-party shack hybrid. My office was across the street at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, a short, pedal-less downhill mountain bike ride away if I worked it just right.
I met Jainee Dial at the mouth of the Russian River. We bonded instantly over our love for the mountains, and quickly became best friends and adventure buds. Soon we were dreaming up a way to blend our community’s ethos with our outdoor pursuits. This was the inception of WYLDER, our online marketplace for the modern outdoors woman. West County became the inspiration and incubator for WYLDER’s purpose and values. From this abundant ecosystem grew our desire to be a mission-driven company, a benefit corporation that partners with both existing nonprofits and “everyday stewards” because this is what our community is filled with: people taking action for what they believe in and living their priorities.
This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Five.
xx Lindsey Elliott