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Raquel Vélez - a plus sized Latina who discovered her love of the outdoors later in life.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Raquel Vélez is the Founder and CEO of Alpine Parrot, an outdoor apparel company that caters specifically to people of size and people of color. She brings with her almost two decades of engineering experience, having received her degree in mechanical engineering from Caltech, worked and studied as a robotics engineer, and eventually shifting over to software engineering and engineering management.

Now, as an apparel engineer, she's creatively tackling one of the oldest (and most polluting) industries by creating sustainable, inclusive clothing for a market of people who have so often been neglected in the outdoor space.

As a plus sized Latina who discovered her love of the outdoors later in life, Raquel has put an incredible amount of careful consideration into the design of each product, focusing on great fit and quality construction. She was named one of Outside Magazine's Outsiders of the Year 2021 and one of Well+Good Magazine's Changemakers 2023.

Raquel has lived in 4 countries, speaks 5 languages, and currently lives in California.


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Listen to Raquel Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Raquel?

  • Living in California, USA

  • Her early years

  • Loving to read and explore through books

  • Getting into the outdoors in her 20s

  • Learning how to ski and falling in love with it

  • Her gateway to the outdoors

  • Climbing, camping, surfing and backpacking

  • The lack of Latina role models

  • Growing up being surrounded by whiteness

  • Making friends in the outdoors

  • Learning how to sew and make patterns

  • Having a degree in mechanical engineering

  • How hard could it be?!

  • Designing an 8 piece plus size women’s ski/snow line

  • Being miserable but earning good money and doing interesting work

  • Starting to think about quitting her job

  • How Alpine Parrot came about

  • The reason behind the company name

  • Putting a plan in place to quit her job

  • The transition from full time employment to being an entrepreneur

  • Figuring out personal finances and if there was a market for a plus sized focused clothing company

  • Making plans and metrics for success

  • Engaging with her audience, designing hiking pants and getting feedback

  • Launching a kickstarter in 2021

  • Starting to sell clothing in August 2022

  • Needing to understand what the problem was with plus sized hiking clothes

  • How clothing is made

  • The fit model

  • Making clothes that fit people in bigger bodies

  • Making the outdoors more inclusive

  • Happy tears

  • Making people feel they belong

  • Why there is nothing wrong with your body

  • 2 different fits for pants - Mountain and River

  • 2 different fits for tops - Coastal and Forest

  • Using the outdoors to help manage stress

  • Having to make hard decision and needing to let people go

  • The power of being in nature

  • Expanding internationally

  • Buy Alpine Parrot in Australia/New Zealand - Plus Snow

  • Buy Alpine Parrot in the UK - Vampire Outdoors

  • How to connect with Raquel and Alpine Parrot

  • Final words of advice - on how to get into the outdoors

  • The power of taking one step

  • Walking with purpose


Social Media

Alpine Parrot - Outdoor apparel for sizes 14-30 and 1X-5X! Latina owned and operated

Instagram: @alpineparrot


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