We heard from Sporty Girl Apparel's Kristy Grant, and got her thoughts on hunting's heritage, women who hunt, and the future of our passion.
We need as many outdoor-minded men and women as we can get in the hunting community. We especially need women who hunt, women who fish, and women who shoot, camp, and hike to help create and promote a conservation mindset in our young people.
We need women like Kristy Grant, and lots of them.
The CEO of Sporty Girl Apparel started hunting and fishing when she was a young girl thanks to her dad, Captain Bobby Grant. She began to accompany her father into the swamps of Florida when she was only five years old, and the passion has never left her.
When Kristy Grant first started Sporty Girl in Jupiter, Florida it was like a dream come true, but that wouldn't be the only business the CEO would undertake. Kristy pursues turkeys, deer, and is an avid alligator hunter. She is a lifelong saltwater angler, and works hard promoting her company. She's on the road non-stop, every weekend, at apparel and trade shows keeping the Sporty Girl brand alive and well.
"Sporty Girl was started 11 years ago when I noticed that the ladies were lacking in something fun to wear that showed off their passion for the outdoors," Kristy told us. "I started off small, hand-painted my designs on shirts and dresses, then grew quickly into having my artwork screen printed on fashionable, fun clothing. I wanted something that wasn't too girly for the Sporty Girls out there, but had a feminine touch to it."
While based in the Sunshine State, Grant routinely finds herself hunting from Alabama to Georgia and has the pictures to prove it.
The original Sporty Girl herself kindly took our questions and responded in ways that only a lifetime outdoors-woman can, leaving us to wonder how she has flown under the radar for so long.
Here is our conversation to prove that, once again, anyone and everyone is invited into the outdoor world.
Wide Open Spaces: How old were you when you started hunting?
Kristy Grant: I started when I was a young girl, probably around 4 or 5 years old, going on trips with my dad to a local management area on a swamp buggy to run the dogs. I didn't actually start shooting until around freshmen year of high school (the photo below was taken in the 11th grade).
Who was the most instrumental in getting you out there?
My dad. Thankfully I was blessed to have a dad, Captain Bobby Grant, who was all about fishing and hunting. He is a fisherman for a living so we got to travel the world and do some awesome fishing trips with him. Then in his spare time he spent it in the woods and I always wanted to tag along.
What is your earliest hunting memory?
Hmmmm.... I remember plenty of times being a young girl on the swamp buggy with my dad and our dogs cruising around. It was always in the fall, so I remember eating pumpkin pie on our lunch break.
Do you have any hunting pet peeves?
Honestly, I would have to say when people waste animals. I'm not one just to kill and let it die for no reason. I wasn't always this way. At one point it was fun just to shoot and say you killed something, and I've been guilty plenty of times in my youth. But now that I've grown older things affect me a lot differently.
I certainly have a lot of respect for Mother Nature and an understanding that everything we take is life. When I see and hear people just shoot things with no care or respect just for the sport, and let them lay and rot, it bothers me deeply now. I firmly believe in conservation and there are great benefits to those out there hunting for the environment to flourish. I also understand the benefits of predator and hog hunting in certain environments where things have to be taking care of to control the population.
Throughout life you grow and learn, and I'm happy that I've grown into my understanding of what I think of myself now as a conscious hunter.
Any embarrassing moments that you'd like to share?
Oh gosh! Plenty! I guess I never look at anything as embarrassing, but more or less just funny. I think I crack myself up more than I should. Let's just say I'm an extremely clumsy person, so I have plenty of hilarious falls.
What hunting or outdoor regret might you have?
I feel like you live and learn every time you're in the woods. This year's hunting regret was a giant 10-point. The lesson learned was you never stop hunting, and never stop looking, because you never know where that buck will be standing.
I was hunting a piece [of land] that was separate from the Georgia ranch and had to drive my truck to it. So, after my morning hunt, I slowly walked all the way back up to my truck that was parked near the highway. You know, the kind of walk you do with your gun in your hand, ready to throw up on your shoulder and stopping every 10 feet, listening and looking.
It was mid-November in Georgia so it was prime time for rutting activity; you never know what will be cruising around. I didn't see anything on the walk up. I got about 30 feet from my truck, threw my gun over my shoulder, and started getting my keys out of my pocket to unlock the truck.
By this time I'm sweating and burning up from the long walk out. It's not as cold as it was in the morning and I just couldn't wait to get all the hot layers of clothing off. All of a sudden, BAM, there was the Georgia Giant.
He stood up with his doe literally 10 feet away from me, behind a vine thicket, and took off running. There was no time to shoot before they disappeared. If I would've still been in hunting mode and looking in the woods all the way up to my truck, I would've spotted them and at least had an opportunity to try to shoot.
Hopefully he lives another year and I'll get another opportunity.
What is your favorite wild game to chase?
That's hard! [Whatever the] season, that's my favorite at the time. Turkey season is coming up and I am so excited for springtime in the woods! Although I would say the biggest adrenaline and reward for me is a nice mature buck. I think it's because I put the most time in for a buck. I try my hardest to do quality deer management, so I let plenty of bucks walk each year looking for that mature one. When it finally comes together and all the patience pays off, the reward is amazing.
Is there a favorite thing about the hunt that you like the most?
Being in the outdoors. I also love the camaraderie of when you go hunting and the stories that are shared; it's a good feeling and they last a lifetime in memories. Another huge bonus is the freezer is always full of delicious organic free-range meat. Can't beat that!
Do you feel that overall hunting pressure affects success?
Absolutely, on both ends of the spectrum. When you hunt a pressured area it's definitely a lot harder. Animals are on high alert and you have to be on top of your game. I also think when people put pressure on themselves it sends off some kind of vibes and usually makes hunting so much more difficult. Just going in with no expectations and being at ease with whatever the results will be seems to result in a better outcome.
Do you feel that hunting, shooting, or even game processing should be a part of a school's curriculum?
I do think teaching those aspects at a young age would have tremendous benefits, but unfortunately there are too many schools in urban areas where it would never fly. With the sad way politics are these days, people are so scared of the topic and so far gone from our heritage. I wish there was a way to let children learn and decide if this is a way of life they would like to join in on, similar to an elective course they could add. Then they would have a healthy outlet to teach them and get them involved in these activities.
If their parents are unable to take them out and show them the outdoor way of life, then these courses would be such a great way to teach kids important life lessons such as patience, self-discipline, and respect. They'll learn more about nature and where food comes from, something I think everyone should better understand.
Would you like to be a role model for young women as hunters and outdoor persons?
I hope I always represent myself in a way that others would be proud of and can look up to, although I wouldn't consider myself a role model at this point in life. I would be more than happy to help young women and children get on the right path in life, or to motivate and inspire them. In turn, it would help me strive to make myself a better person.
How has social media helped and/or hurt your career?
Hmmm. That's actually a tough one. It's done both.
Business was a lot easier before social media because the competition wasn't as intense. Now you're competing with so much more to get noticed. On the other hand, it also helps me reach a larger target audience and spread the name so much further than would have been possible without it.
On another side, we had a really bad anti-hunting and PETA attack in 2010. I had to completely wipe clean all my social media accounts and start from scratch because it was trashed with angry messages and death threats. They were also targeting every single one of my customers with death threats, so even when you're reaching a larger audience you're also picking up angry individuals and cyber bullies.
Do you have a secret hunting or fishing skill?
Did you ever think that you would own your own company?
I never thought about it growing up. I kinda fell right into it in 2008 when I was trying to decide on my major in college, and it blossomed from there. It was meant to be a hobby but I just kept going with the flow without any expectations or plan, and thankfully it all worked out. Two years later I opened my storefront.
What is the best hunting advice you ever got?
Patience. "All things come to those who wait."
If your house was on fire, what is the first piece of gear that you would grab?
My dogs, Woodrow and Gus. They are my babies and also considered hunting gear, I guess. Right?
What is your dream hunt?
Red stag in New Zealand, on horseback. Throw in a horse and I'm the happiest girl in the world.
Is there any wild game that you don't care to hunt?
There's certain wildlife I would rather capture with a camera than harvesting.
If there was a Kristy Grant action figure, what accessories would be sold with it?
Her trusty sidekick Woodrow, haha. Oh and a camera. I don't go anywhere without one.
What would surprise someone about you?
Probably a lot of things. I draw, paint and design almost all the artwork in my clothing line. I also take all the photographs and promo videos, even the photos of myself I take on a tripod with self-timer.
I don't like social media, I wouldn't have an account if it wasn't for my business, when it comes to technology it just takes over our lives.
I am the happiest when I'm alone. I truly love to be alone I'm very independent person. I also suffered from a lot of health issues I'm my late teens and 20s, including Lyme disease, on the lists of issues.
I have social anxiety around a large group of people and extreme stage fright. I love good sushi and could eat it every day of the week!
I become obsessed with different topics and spend every spare second learning and researching that topic. It usually lasts a few days or weeks then I jump to the next. The hot one right now for me is Astrology. I can't focus on one thing too long, because there's just too much to learn about.
I can't spell. I think I'm truly dyslexic in it. Guess that's the artistic side to me.
I met and started dating my boyfriend, Andrew, in the 10th grade (15 years ago) and we don't feel the pressure to get married. We're great just as we are.
My favorite movie is Lonesome Dove. I even named my dogs after it (Gus and Woodrow).
I don't have a computer, Wi-Fi or internet in my house. I don't use Wi-Fi at all, even in my shop, because I feel it's harmful to our bodies. I use good old Ethernet cables in the store.
Give us a quick rundown of your go-to hunting and outdoor gear.
My go-to shotgun is the Benelli M2 Field. My favorite deer rifle right now is the Thompson/Center Encore .308 with Hornady ELD X bullets. I use a Diamond bow by Bowtech, and my favorite rod and reel combo is the Star Rod Plasma with an Avet reel.
About Sporty Girl Apparel
What is your favorite piece of apparel that you sell?
Not only is it super comfortable, but I'm obsessed with gray and mint.
What is the most popular piece sold by Sporty Girl?
Hands down the Cute White Country Girl Deer Dress. It's the number one seller of all time.
What have you learned the most about running your own business?
You don't get a paycheck. Honestly, I still love it. I'm a very independent person and super creative, so knowing I can just do what I need when the creativity comes is so much fun. It's always changing and keeps me on my toes; no two days are ever the same.
The mind never stops running, so it's hard to get a break. There's always something that needs to be done, but it's perfect for my personality. I'm definitely a workaholic.
How has outdoor apparel changed since you've been in business?
Drastically! I started in 2008 and honestly there weren't many people out there making cute women's clothing. I was one of the first to touch the markets with fashionable hunting- and fishing-themed wear.
I'm very thankful for that. I feel like nowadays it would be so hard to break into the competitive market that we have going on. It's so saturated. And China, unfortunately, has a hold on undercutting prices, making it so hard to compete. Also, with platforms like Amazon, the small business owners get pushed out, overlooked, or taken advantage of.
You've said that you are on the road doing festivals and shows. Do you meet many women that appreciate what you do?
I really do. I have such an amazingly loyal customer base. A lot of them have been shopping with me since day one and I'm so grateful and thankful for their support. Without them I wouldn't be in business.
Honestly, there are times when I question my career [choice]. It's a lot of hard work, and sometimes you're working and pushing yourself to the max to see little payback. But when I get kind words from customers about how much they love and appreciate what you're doing, it takes all those worries away.
Is there a Sporty Girl app?
No, but can we get one?!
What would you like outdoor men to know about what you offer?
I would love for them to know that we carry such a wide range of hats for men. The past few years I've probably sold more men's hats then women's shirts. Definitely make sure to check out our hat selection.
If you had to choose one piece of Sporty Girl Apparel to wear, what would it be?
My Sporty V-neck long sleeve. I absolutely love this lightweight comfortable top and wear it all year long, from summer through winter and for so many different occasions.
Where will Sporty Girl be in 10 years?
?Still rocking and rolling. You never know where the future will take you. I've never been one to have a business plan, and I just go with what makes me happy. I do hope that Sporty Girl will grow tremendously in the next 10 years.
What was the best business decision you've made?
To dive right in and start Sporty Girl Apparel.
Has trusting your gut instincts been better for business or hunting?
Both. You can never go wrong with trusting your instincts. Even though that is something I need to work on, because I debate everything in my head.
What makes you feel old?
Who is your biggest rival?
Rock and roll or country music?
Cold beer or red wine?
None, I don't drink.
A book in the hand or a Kindle?
Definitely a book! I'm a big reader.
Do you dream about hunting?
I daydream about it... often.
Freshwater or saltwater fishing?
What have you recently become obsessed with about hunting, fishing, or the outdoor world?
Looking for arrowheads, fossils, and other artifacts.
?Have you hunted the invasive pythons in Florida?
What hunting skill do you wish people would learn better?
What type of design style do you like most? Architecture, interior design, art, or whatever?
What's the best trait a hunter can have?
Who's the best hunter that you know?
My boyfriend, Andrew Wooten.
The Final Word:
?What are you proudest of?
I'm proud of following my passion, and of being a business owner at age 20 and still going strong 12 years later.
Does hunting help you feel like a part of nature?
Absolutely, that is my favorite part of hunting. To me, it's just being alone in the outdoors. I could go a whole season or two without taking a deer and still have the best time.
If you could hold on to one memory from your outdoor life, what would that be?
Family and friends being together.
How would you like to be remembered?
I know I have so much to do and accomplish in this lifetime, and I'm not really sure what my soul's purpose is just yet. Whatever it is, I hope it leaves a lasting, positive, and meaningful impact on others.
Right now, I hope to show others in some way to be fulfilled and driven in whatever makes them happy, and to put your heart into anything you do.
What is your hope for the future of Sporty Girl Apparel?
I really hope it continues to grow. I would love to have a few other shops or even pop-up shops throughout the country. Also, I need to get into another big retail store. We had my products in Gander Mountain before the stores started closing down, so landing another huge retail store would be amazing. I've been working hard on that.
A Remarkable Woman
And with that, the Sporty Girl has spoken!
Just knowing that we have hunting ambassadors like Kristy Grant is a blessing for the outdoor community. Given the trials that she's been through just to make it this far, it's easy to see why Sporty Girl Apparel has become such a hit based on her hard work and perseverance.
It's a testament to what it takes to become respectful outdoorsmen and women the country over.
We can't thank Kristy Grant enough for taking the time to answer our questions and give us insight into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in the hunting industry, all while remaining the hunter that she's always been.