Written by KEEN Ambassador Alison Gannett
The X-Games were a real turning point in my life. One second I was showing off for ESPN, the next I had blown out both my knees on a poorly-timed, 70-foot ski jump. My sponsors wanted nothing to do with an injured athlete, and I was promptly dropped.
While recovering in my hospital bed, I committed to finding new sponsors that held similar values to my own. I cold-called footwear, apparel, and outdoor companies and begged to join their teams. I found the best companies with like-minded values, but it was not to be. No one wanted to sponsor an environmental activist—they wanted a pro skier.
Then KEEN sent me some amazing footwear that embodied everything I loved. That was the extent of our relationship at the time, but I stayed close with them because I had found a company I really did believe in.
By age 40, I had started my own green consulting business and became known as “The Environmental Alarmist” among my close circle of friends. I was making bigger changes and began to actually walk the walk. I calculated my carbon footprint and made measurable changes in all parts of my life, including travel, home, food, water and, of course, clothing. I was set on changing not only my excessive consumption, but also making better purchases that would last longer and decrease my footprint. I started only purchasing from companies with solid values that sourced their materials responsibly.
A few years ago, I was offered a huge contract from another footwear company that was contingent on me fully cutting ties with KEEN. I did some research and checked out one of the company’s retail stores (I ended up walking out because the smell of toxic chemicals was so overwhelming).
I was torn. I was broke and had bills to pay, and I was considering just taking the money and looking the other way. But in the end, I knew I had to do the right thing and I turned the offer down.
Then one day, the phone rang. It was KEEN, and they were asking to partner together officially. Sticking to your moral compass really can pay off! It’s crazy to think that I went from the pro sports world to the environmental sector to my latest endeavor of self-sufficient farming.
I also started the KEEN Rippin Chix skiing, surfing, and mountain biking camps for women.
Obviously my story is long and this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for future updates to learn more about my ski and environmental/non-profit careers, my “Be Green Save Green” keynote speaking, self-sufficient farming, and how I’m using my FARM-acy cooking to conquer my cancer.