Supplier in the Spotlight: DNK Presents

| By James Gleason

Danielle and Kate of DNK Presents are about being "out" in more ways than one! These two out women founded DNK Presents to encourage women to live their best lives outdoors. Through their certified LGBTBE, they offer adventure excursions throughout the Indianapolis area and beyond.

DNK Presents in the Spotlight:

  • Name of business: DNK Presents
  • Name of founders:
  • Danielle Wolter Nolan & Kate Nolan
  • Date founded: 2014
  • Date certified: 2016
  • Location of business: Indianapolis, IN
  • Number of employees: 2 full time with 10 part-time guides

1. What is DNK Presents?

DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure retreats for individuals, groups, and businesses. We focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something for the first time, and in turn, gain confidence through experiential learning. Our adventures include backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and yoga retreats. Our mission is to get people to try something new, connect with nature, and reconnect with themselves through the great outdoors.

2. What were you doing before you founded your business?

Before we founded DNK Presents, I (Danielle) was a marketing director for an engineering firm in Indianapolis called Enviro-Max. Gaining experience there gave me a great step forward when I started building the business and forming a marketing strategy plan for DNK Presents. I was also a Division I golf coach at a local university. An athlete my entire life, I love being able to coach women on the collegiate level, coaching was something that has also helped with guiding and owning our own adventure empowerment business.

3. How did you get the concept or idea for your business?

I grew up in the country and played many sports so being outside was always second nature to me. Moving to the city and after working in an office, I realized how much I missed being outside. My wife and I started making an effort to put nature and adventure back into our lives. We knew that when we made time to go outside - whether it was a trail run in a local park to backpacking the Grand Canyon - we realized it was not only good for us physically but impacted us mentally and emotionally. Scientific data shows that being outside especially in a park or forest setting has a significant effect on us mentally and can increase our overall health and wellness. Kate and I saw the outdoors had improved our lives personally and professionally, and we knew that it could do the same for others. We also had several people reach out and ask us about the adventures we had personally taken, with questions about where to go, what to bring, etc. We knew that people wanted to get outside but there was something missing: experience, equipment, and safety. This led Kate and me to get certified and trained to guide others on adventures.

I never knew my love of the outdoors would turn into a real outdoor adventure business, but I am so grateful for the experience to be able to guide empowering adventures that change the lives of our participants. Early on, this gave Kate and I another idea: a way to give back that we do each year for the community with a Women’s Adventure Contest. We ask people to nominate a woman who could use an adventure in her life. These women have gone through severe health challenges, are taking care of sick family members, have experienced significant loss or are simply trying to make it day-to-day. We have a Selection Committee that votes and chooses the top finalists to win the trip. DNK Presents then gives away a 4-day custom adventure to 4 very deserving women, and the winners also receive over $1,500 in free gear so they can continue taking on their own adventures.  The Women’s Adventure Contest has turned into one of our favorite events of the year, and we look forward to seeing it grow.

4. What makes your business stand out when compared to other businesses in your field?

DNK Presents is different from other adventure businesses because we are the first company in Indiana that offers the types of retreats and trips that we do. No one else offers guided backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing and yoga retreats from the same organization. In the surrounding states, we are also amongst a very small group here in the Midwest. We might actually be the only woman- and LGBT-owned adventure company in the country! Being woman and LGBT owned definitely makes us unique. Men have dominated the outdoor industry for a long time, so we are very excited to get more women and girls outside living adventurously! We focus our adventures on empowering people to build confidence in themselves, learn something new, and have so much fun along the way. We have had some women who have been on several DNK Presents adventures get trained and certified so they could guide for us! Kate and I feel so grateful and blessed to be able to guide these amazing adventures all over the country and now internationally. I believe that our passion for life and adventure truly shows in our guiding and in the training of our guide team as well. On the back of our shirts, it says, “Your life should be your greatest adventure,” and we truly believe that.

5. What are your goals for your business? Where do you hope to see your business in one, five, ten years?

DNK Presents has a lot of ambitious goals for our growth. Currently, we are working to increase our adventure trips by hiring and training more guides so we can offer more adventures in more places.

We are also working with our advisory board to grow the Women’s Adventure Contest. Each year, we give away a 4-day adventure to four women in Indiana. We want to grow this unique experience in different parts of the country so we can offer women’s adventure contests to women everywhere. In 2016, we produced and directed an award-winning documentary film "Live Adventurously" that follows the women that won the 2016 Women’s Adventure Contest and their transformational journey throughout the weekend. We hope to continue to document the women through film or a series and share their stories and experiences so we can inspire people everywhere to try something for the first time and to live life adventurously.

6. How has being a member of the LGBT community impacted your business, if at all?

Kate and I feel that being married and owning an adventure company is pretty unique, especially in Indiana! We love sharing our story with others and we feel that we have helped make other people on our adventures feel more included no matter what their background is, where they are from, or how they identify. We feel that because we set the tone right away about being an inclusive environment, people feel comfortable opening up about who they are as well. Kate and I are very proud of being gay and being comfortable with ourselves and I think that gives confidence to others who may feel different for whatever reason. Oftentimes, we see people that have gone on a trip with us return home and feel empowered to ask their boss for a raise, teach their family what they learned, or even start their own business. It’s so rewarding to see how adventure can impact someone’s life to give them the confidence they may not have known they had.

7. How has being a Certified LGBTBE through NGLCC impacted your business?

One of the first business certifications we received was the LGBTBE certification through the NGLCC. This was a great way for us to show our diversity in the community and on a national level. We are members of our local LGBT Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, but having the national recognition was a huge success and benefit for us. It shows other people, organizations, and businesses that DNK Presents is a professional company that is also recognized as being LGBT-owned. We take the certification very seriously and wear it proudly.

8. What advice would you give to an LGBT person starting a business?

I would definitely encourage other people who are in the LGBT family to start a business. When I was growing up, I did not know of any LGBT entrepreneurs or out LGBT people that were business leaders. If we don’t see something or someone like us, it can be hard to visualize ourselves being successful. I speak out about it especially in the LGBT community because I want them to know that it is possible to identify openly as LGBT and be successful in business and life.