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From Corporate Life To The Great Outdoors - swopping the daily grind for fresh air

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Sam and Joel Evans, Directors of The Outdoors Project have made the switch from their corporate lives to a very different kind of business by setting up and growing The Outdoors Project in Brighton.

Growing up in the States, Joel spent much of his childhood playing outdoors in the woods behind his house.  A move to the UK when he was twelve meant a different location but with parents who loved the outdoors, this feeling was now inbuilt.  Working for a board sports retailer was a pretty good fit as far as working in the corporate world went, as a keen surfer, Joel was learning about the best boards in the industry and being paid for it. However, there is no comparison to being outdoors when looking at spreadsheets and computer screens for much of the day and combined with an increasing concern about the amount of screen time his three children were having, he began to think of a new route for everyone.    

Joel set up The Outdoors Project in 2011  and has Sam joined the company in 2018 bringing with her, business planning, organisation and marketing skills drawn from her 20 year Music Industry career.

Joel - From board sports retailer to children’s charity A redundancy from the board sports retailer gave Joel the push to make the change of direction he had been thinking about.  He started volunteering for an outdoor children’s charity which sparked the ideas for The Outdoors Project. Seeing how much joy being outdoors was giving the children simply emphasised the reality that there was no childcare available like this for his children and that often the school PE lessons were putting kids off being outdoors, giving them a feeling they were no good at sport when the reality was that the lessons simply were not fun enough!

Sam – From Universal Records to Artist Management via Elton John and Metallica.   For twenty years, Sam enjoyed a successful and busy career in the music industry.   Sam is now transferring those planning, marketing, nurturing and negotiating skills to family business.   Sam works in the office on all aspects of The Outdoors Project, from speaking to parents and schools, managing the team, marketing, promotion and business planning.    

The growth of The Outdoors Project The Outdoors Project started small, with a few kids in the local parks, now we deliver clubs to over 1000 children across Brighton and most Primary School age children  have been to either one of our clubs or a birthday party hosted by one of their friends. There have been bumps on the way, as there would be with any new business, but we have loved watching the team grow and it’s gone full circle having recently employed a one of our first customers as a member of our team.

A life changing experience Joel says, ‘my children have been a massive influence on my direction. I wanted to get outdoors more, I retrained, volunteering forty-hour weeks for a local outdoors adventure kids charity, it was a real eye opener, I wanted to go in every day!  No Sunday blues, no stressful Monday morning sales meetings, so refreshing. Several years of retraining, plenty of muddy boots later and it’s been an incredible life changing experience, one that I love sharing with the children every day and we hope to share further afield from 2020 as we extend our franchises further afield.

Sam says, “I loved my time in the music industry but was ready for a change.    I’d travelled the world, had lots of fun.  I moved to Brighton was loving the community and was ready to explore closer to home.  The Outdoors Project was growing rapidly, Joel didn’t like being in the office and I love planning and organising!!   Making the switch has allowed us to build the business alongside our family life, make strong links with the community and really feel like we’re making a difference to peoples lives (children/parents and our super team of staff).

The kids take the lead at the Outdoors Project, but we provide the opportunity.  The main aim has always been simple, to get outside all year round, not hibernate and just have fun.  A lot of what we do at The Outdoors Project is structured but so much is just hands on learning or experiences. Joel’s childhood in America, involved camping, canoeing, skiing and running in the woods, often resulting in mud, grazes and fights with his brothers but importantly bundles of memories and a lifelong love of nature.  Not all kids have the opportunity to be near much green space but most of us understand the importance of doing so, no-one more than Joel who is back outdoors doing what he loves every day.

To find out how you can run a franchise of The Outdoors Project take a look at the information.