We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Lanctot and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The Unpopular Black was created from the frustration of being told that Black people don’t do adventurous and outdoor activities. To me, there was a need in our community to experience what nature could offer.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Unpopular Black’s mission is to encourage adventure for Black people. The idea came from a narrative that Black people are far familiar with and non-Black often this is weird or humorous although it very much isn’t. In Colorado or any other outdoor activity-focused city/ state, there is often a regular narrative that Black people don’t do [adventurous things]. I used to subscribe to that narrative as someone who grew up in Alaska. It wasn’t until 2018 when a friend responded to an “adventurous” idea that I asked myself “why don’t we do these things?”. Historically, Black people in America weren’t always safe to even exist in certain spaces, let alone explore. If you include systemic factors like Redlining and segregation, it was only a generation or 2 ago that “adventure” could almost mean certain death. So, “we don’t do these things” was an intended statement for safety measures. My goal with The Unpopular Black is to create representation, information, and access to the outdoors and adventure for Black people. If you have never participated in an activity and personally don’t know anyone who has, the barrier of entry may seem small but the fear of safety can effectively stop you from seeking it out. I am currently working on a Black Adventure Directory to provide the 3 pillars of The UB mentioned above. I once had someone ask if they needed to bring a tent to go for a hike. You may chuckle but the reality is that you don’t know what you don’t know and a part of that is even knowing how to ask the right questions to begin your search. My focus is not to be included in the already established outdoor industry where we sit at the table that didn’t have Black people in mind when creating it. My vision is to create a space for us where it’s safe because it is our own.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would depend on the time of year and season but let’s say it was summer because I love summertime in Colorado. I wouldn’t stick to an itinerary but more of feeling out what we are in the mood for when we wake up. I live next to Union Station so enjoying Downtown on foot is always a thing when I have folks in town. Checking out the local food and bars for a day or so would probably be how we spent the first and last day or so. I have my own paddleboards and last summer I discovered waking up before sunrise to get on Bear Creek Lake at sunrise. Let me tell you, that is possibly the best possible way you can begin your day. Beyond peaceful and perfect. We would probably go somewhere in the mountains for a couple of days. Maybe Montrose or Cortez where we could get to a couple of hot springs within a couple of hours drive but also enjoy the depth of Colorado that you can only experience half a day’s drive away from Denver. We could find a lake to paddleboard on or some hikes to take. I do love to plot out a good spot to sit and catch either or both sunset and sunrise. If you come to visit me in Colorado, better believe you are gonna see Colorado damn it. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Honestly, I am so blessed with people who have provided such love and support for me on my journey. I cannot express enough my gratitude. My parents have always encouraged me to explore my ideas. I read the book The Alchemist at a point in my life I knew I had to lean into this journey. Last but not least, I owe myself a shout-out because as any entrepreneur knows, this is wildly difficult and ever-changing but I am here and I believe in myself to continue this adventure.