Episode 72: Fifty Years as an Outdoor Entrepreneur

Interview with Sheri Tingey

Banner image of Sheri and her two children 

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Sheri Tingey has been making gear in the outdoor industry for the past 50 years, and she’s done a lot of it with her own two hands. Learn about what drives her to solve problems, how she learned the important lesson of slowing down, and what happened after she re-started her career in her 50’s by founding Alpacka Raft.

Sheri started out making custom ski apparel in Jackson Hole in the late 1960’s and she founded Alpacka Raft in 2000. The latter revolutionized packrafting as a sport in and of itself. (Color us impressed!) In between the two ventures, Sheri spent 17 years with a then-mysterious illness, chronic fatigue. She raised her kids in Alaska then, but she stayed active in the outdoor community as a recreator and a creator, making custom clothing for dog mushers with her limited energy. She was in her early 50’s once she found treatment and started Alpacka Raft.

Sheri has fun solving problems – which may just be the secret to her success.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

– What the outdoor industry was like in the late 1960’s and 70’s
– The catalyst for Sheri’s first company, *Design by Sheri*
– When Sheri knew it was time to move on from her first venture
– How chronic fatigue affects your body and creative ability
– The value of slowing down, and how Sheri incorporates that lesson in her life (and work) today
– What it’s like to gain confidence again after treatment for a chronic illness
– What packrafting is
– The unique challenges and rewards of a product-based company
– The importance of re-evaluating your business after it’s been around for a certain period of time
– Why sometimes it’s better to stay small as a company
– Sheri’s advice for other entrepreneurs as she looks back on her career

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, GooglePlay, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featuring: 

Sheri Tingey, founder of Alpacka Raft

Hosted by Gale Straub 

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Music is by Lee Rosevere, Steve Combs, and Kai Engel via freemusicarchive.org.

Music is also by Memory Palace

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Sheri, Her Family, & Her Work

Sheri skiing in her own stretch suit. She made the yellow jacket, too!
Sheri and friends skiing Jackson Hole, WY. Sheri is 8 months pregnant with Thor here
Ice climbing Teton Glacier, 1978. Son Thor was 2 months old and stayed at base camp while they climbed.
Sheri and Thor at Primrose Ridge in Denali National Park
Sheri and her two children (Thor and Daphne) fishing in the Denali Highway area, 1989
Fishing the Noatak River, Kotzebue, AK – 1990
The very first boat! Thor on Aniakchak, 2001
Sheri testing one of the very first spraydecks for a packraft that she designed, 2002
Sheri in 2003 in an Alpacka Raft

Links/Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Alpacka Raft

Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking

She Explores Facebook Group

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