Northside Bags, based out of Duluth, MN, is one of the two black-owned hiking backpack businesses in the country. Years ago, as a business student, Founder Nate Williams, attended an outdoor music festival where he experienced dehydration and then was separated from his friends after his phone battery went dead. The incident left an impression and inspired Nate to start looking into solar charged and hydration backpacks. His mission?
To diversify and provide access to the outdoors, while keeping people safe.
Nate is building networks across the country with existing BIPOC hiking groups and organizations. Recently he met up with a group called the Hood Hikers, a hiking and outdoor adventure company based out of New York City that creates a safe space in nature for all Black and Brown folks, regardless of gender, income bracket and any other divider, to enjoy the outdoors on their terms. By providing a product that ensures a hikers stay hydrated and charged, Nate hopes barriers are eliminated for BIPOC individuals to get outside.
Entrepreneur Fund advisor, Stephanie Williams, connected with Nate at a Multicultural Business Expo held in the spring of 2021. The two met after for a customized business advising session to discuss Nate’s business goals and look at the available resources to help him move forward. Nate shared that knowing there’s a group of people ready and able to help when you have a question or challenge is invaluable. He appreciates that the support comes with no cost to him or his business.
“The Entrepreneur Fund is unique in that they are a free resource and have people who want to help and support you. They are unmatched in terms of the resources and advice they have provided to my business.“
When asked what’s next for Northside Bags, Nate shared that he is working on a new product that will launch in the spring and wants to grow Northside Bag’s presence in retail stores across the country. He continues to be inspired by seeing his ideas come to life and the support he has received from outdoor enthusiasts across the county.
Learn more about Northside Bags at northsidebags.com
Statistics collected in 2020 from the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service show that although people of color make up nearly 40 percent of the total U.S. population, close to 70 percent of people who visit national forests, national wildlife refuges, and national parks are white, while Black people remain the most dramatically underrepresented group in these spaces.