By Jennifer Marshall
What’s on your agenda for the weekend? Are you planning on vegging out on the couch and binge-watching the latest comedy craze? Or, perhaps you have no real plans except to plop your butt in front of the computer and scroll through social media to see how much more exciting your friends’ lives are than yours. Well, while you’re on your laptop, pull up the Women on Adventures website because you need some ADVENTURE in your life, and you need it now!
Jenny Zink is the proud founder and owner of Women on Adventures, and she’s a testament to the fact that getting out there on an adventure is healthy for your mind, body and soul. So, come along with me on this little journey to discover how you can harness the power of WoA to transform your ho-hum life into one of adventure.
Zink moved to Phoenix in January 2015. Six months later, she wasn’t happy. In her quest to feel better, she studied the Meetup.com website searching for Meetups that were fun. Everything she found, though, was too specific for her taste; she wanted to experience a variety of activities and not just one type all the time.
She felt like she wasn’t taking full advantage of all the amazing opportunities her new home state afforded her. She was looking to explore and to hopefully connect with some like-minded women. So, she shifted her efforts from searching for the perfect Meetup to how to start her own.
Thus, in July of that year, she started her own Meetup, and her first one was to be a happy hour where she hoped women would meet, greet and schedule some adventures to do together. When she checked her computer the next morning, she saw 50 women had signed up. Within six months, she had over 2,000 members! Wow!
“My little Meetup had grown into a full-time job,” said Zink. “At the time, I was a freelance photographer between gigs, so I decided to turn my Meetup into a real online business. I set up a website and started selling memberships.”
Women on Adventures was born, and any adventure was up for grabs. While hiking was a viable choice, it wasn’t the only option. Starting out, she did bowling, stand up paddle boarding and horseback riding to name a few.
“I wanted our adventures to be anything that got us out of our comfort zone,” said Zink, “anything that we had an interest in or anything that challenged us.”
WoA offers monthly, annual and lifetime memberships. And for those who want to test the proverbial water, Zink offers a 30-day trial. Members have immediate access to the calendar where all of the adventures are listed. Once a member signs up for a particular adventure, all they have to do is show up and have the time of their lives!
Some adventures, like the “Hike and Brunch” and the “Coffee and Conversation,” are free. Other adventures, such as “Yoga in the Park,” are free but with the request that a donation be made to charity. And sometimes, there are adventures that entail an additional charge. Keeping watch on the calendar is key since there’s the perfect adventure waiting out there for every member.
As far as types of adventures go: “We’ll try anything once,” said Zink. “We all have different comfort zones, so adventure is different for everyone. The purpose is for women to challenge themselves because growth only happens in the challenges.”
One member might be petrified to go to “Coffee and Conversation” but have no problem rappelling a wall of sheer rock while another member might be the total opposite. That’s why WoA offers all types of adventures.
Adventures can be classified as “Outdoor Adventures,” “Inside Adventures” and “Education.”
“Outdoor Adventures” include: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Skiing, Rock Climbing, Kickball, Volleyball, Drive-in Movies and Rope Courses.
“Inside Adventures” include: Coffee and Conversation, Yoga, Pole Dancing, Bowling, Curling, Museums, Circus School and Indoor Skydiving. Circus School can be further expanded to include learning to Tightrope Walk, Trapeze and Juggle.
“Education” includes: Learning to Paint, Book Clubs, Cooking Classes and Vision Board Workshops.
Think of it as summer camp for the big girls!
Members aren’t limited to the above list of adventures; those are examples of some of the most popular activities.
“Many of my members are in transition,” said Zink, “like they’re newly divorced, or something has happened to stir up their lives and make them want to explore new places, see new things or try new activities.”
While her business is an online one, she has personally connected with the North 32nd community where she lives, works and plays. Her business has partnered with many of the local small businesses in the North 32nd corridor. For example, she organized an adventure and “Yoga in the Park” with Black Rock Bouldering Gym. In the past, she’s also planned events with Empower Wellness Studio, patronized local restaurants like 32 Shea and, of course, the nearby Phoenix Mountains Preserve is the perfect spot for hiking.
“It’s amazing how many adventures are in this corner of the city,” said Zink. “Everyone who comes here from other parts of the Valley for an adventure is like: ‘Wow! There’s a lot happening here—it’s exciting.’ ”
While Zink still loves going on adventures with her members, she has Ambassadors, contracted employees, who lead most of the adventures. Her utilization of these contracted Ambassadors has enabled her business to expand beyond the borders of Arizona.
Expansion has come in two forms for Zink. Several of her friends who loved WoA wanted to establish chapters—or what she calls Outposts—in their home states. These friends are now contracted Ambassadors of WoA in their respective states, and now these Ambassadors are leading adventures in their area. Friendship created the Iowa and Kansas Outposts.
The other Outposts, such as the ones in Texas and Colorado, were established when people discovered WoA via Facebook.
“The Texas Outpost has over 50 members, and that’s just over the last two weeks,” said Zink. “It’s growing incredibly fast. Colorado is just getting started, and that resulted from someone else who just found me online.”
In addition to the Outposts in Iowa, Kansas, Texas and Colorado, there are ones in Minnesota and Ohio with Luxembourg coming online next month.
Along with growing her Outposts, courtesy of her Ambassadors, she started a podcast this past February 2018.
“The podcasts are really popular,” said Zink, “more popular than anything I’ve ever done other than the adventures themselves. I’m constantly receiving messages from people requesting episodes on specific topics like camping.”
She loves that members are connecting with the podcasts, and she loves that they’re eager to learn about different adventures. Zink wants to empower women with the self-confidence to go bold and strong and try new adventures on their own and with family and friends outside of the WoA network.
Following the success of her podcasts, Zink launched the first edition of her digital magazine in June 2018. The quarterly magazine is available to members only, and it’s chock-full of all things adventurous. In fact, the upcoming issue will delve into the world of hiking.
“Fearless Friday Challenge” is another online activity where each week a unique smaller challenge is posted on social media. The objective is to keep the fun going while inspiring members to think creatively about adventures. She refers to these smaller challenges as “micro-adventures.”
“Giving women experiences is really important to me,” said Zink. “When members start to do these little adventures, it gives them the courage to take on those bigger adventures. It’s like flexing that adventure muscle you have.”
WoA has some great trips lined up for those members who are ready to really flex some adventure muscle.
At the end of September, a group is going to Mexico for beach time, paddle boarding and a nature center lecture.
Plans are in the works for upcoming adventures to thrilling destinations like White Sands National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Joshua Tree National Park.
A trip to Las Vegas is also planned, but it’s not one of those: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” kind of getaways. This trip will allow members to savor the outdoorsy side of the city.
Still another weekend trip will carry members on a tour of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.
This has definitely been a fruitful year for WoA. Added to the celebration over the expanding Outposts and the successful introduction of the podcasts and magazine, WoA won the 2018 American Small Business Championship by SCORE.
SCORE, which is affiliated with the US Small Business Administration, has been providing complimentary mentoring to small businesses since 1964. The backbone of SCORE are its thousands of business professional volunteers who not only mentor but also lead classes and workshops.
According to WoA’s press release, their prizes include: “An all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year and a chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes made possible with the support of Sam’s Club.”
Finally, they’ll also have the opportunity to compete to become Grand Champion. What an adventure!