Kirstie Pike’s path from nursing to hunting-industry executive began with a shopping trip. The year was 2006, and Pike – an avid bowhunter from Gunnison, Colo. – drew a coveted elk tag for the fall season. In preparation for the hunt, Pike and her husband, Steve, made a trip to one of the “big box” outdoor retailers in Denver in search of some new women’s camouflage clothing.
“I was ready to spend whatever I had to, and there literally wasn’t anything available for women,” Pike said. “We just started talking about it on the way home, kicking the idea [of a women’s hunting apparel company] around and went for it.”
Pike went to work refining her concept to serve an unfilled niche in the market – technical, performance-oriented hunting clothing specifically designed for the female form. She founded her company, Prois, in 2007 and launched its first garments to the public in 2008.
“I had no market research. I didn’t even have a business plan,” Pike said. “We went into this thinking we were just going to dabble with it, [but] it was actually far more well received than we thought it would be.”
Prois grew so quickly, in fact, that in 2010 Pike left nursing and devoted herself to Prois full-time. Nine years after the company’s inception, Prois now faces competition in the women’s hunting apparel market from such major manufacturers as Sitka Gear, Under Armour and Scentlok, to name a few. But in spite of that, Prois stands alone as the only manufacturer run by women and focused solely on women’s apparel.
“People give a lot of lip service about drawing women in, but…you can’t just throw up a picture on social media and think everyone is going to fall in love with it,” Pike said. “You have to build this big sisterhood, and that’s why we are still here. We appeal to women and we work with only women.”
In addition to a quality product line capable of outfitting female hunters for any big-game adventure, Prois devotes significant resources to recruiting new women hunters through such activities as outdoor shows, shooting clinics and annual women’s-only hunts hosted by the company. Prois also has an extensive pro staff of ambassadors such as Olympic biathletes Tracy and Lanny Barnes, twin sisters from Colorado who are also avid backcountry bowhunters.
“Retrospectively, the most amazing thing we’ve done with this business is networking women,” Pike said. “Money is why we are all here, but being able to come up with a great product and bring women together has been the coolest thing. There are some badass women out there doing some amazing things, and it’s really fun to watch.”