Born in Oakland, California in 1959 as the 4th of 5 children, Magi Raible grew up in a very Catholic, working-class family. Her mother was more traditional while her father always told her she could do anything – And she believed him! Magi credits her father as her greatest supporter and inspiration to go after what she wanted in life.
Currently, she is the Founder, CEO & Creative Director of LifeGear Designs, Inc and LiteGear® travel gear and accessories. In her younger years she was a florist, served in the Air Force, sandblasted Navy submarines then went back to being a florist. In 1983 she found her destiny at The North Face in Berkeley, California.
She started at an entry-level job and ultimately became the Director of Product Development and Product Acquisition at The North Face. She traveled around the country visiting raw materials factories and sewing contractors – she then went to China in 1990 to manage a new global sourcing effort.
In 1992, it was time for her to spread her wings, so she joined a small manufacturing company and founded an adventure gear brand, Kiva®. She sold Kiva in 2013 and started LifeGear Design as a design and sourcing company. Within a year she created and launched LiteGear, a collection of travel bags, accessories and tools that allow travelers to pack for extended periods of time in a Carry-On bag. Though she is busy running a series of successful companies, she continues to serve on the International Travel Goods Association board of directors and travels as much as she can.
Tell us about your business(es).
When I sold Kiva, there were several women that worked for me that still needed their job. My plan was to be a consultant and slow down, but circumstances would have made it difficult for them to find jobs – single moms needing flexibility, women with health issues, etc. So I created LifeGear Design, Inc – a work place that allowed flexibility and support for great employees.
From that, several industry friends, retail customers and sales reps asked me to develop a brand of travel bags to fill an available niche. If I were going to do this, I wanted it to be special, creative, unique products using recycled plastic bottles to make fabric, apply my experience in materials and engineering to create lightweight and durable products that are affordable – Bags that make travel easier and more accessible to the average person. I feel that crossing boarders leads to understanding other cultures and can ultimately spread the idea of world peace. ☺
Have you faced any obstacles along your path to empowerment? How have you overcome these?
My early years at The North Face were tough as a young woman. It was a very male dominated company and a very male dominated industry. I was passed over twice for promotions because I was a woman – My VP told me that I was more qualified for the job, but because the job required interaction with other (mostly male) outside businesses he felt they would be more comfortable working with a man. I was beyond frustrated so I went to my parent’s back yard and split firewood until I couldn’t stand. I was quite athletic and it was a good release. But it made me more determined – I didn’t give up.
I worked harder and smarter than all of the guys. When my VP became the president I didn’t have to apply for the promotion – He called me to his office and sincerely asked me to please accept the promotion. Through this experience, I learned that determination pays off. And that I needed to create a company that values individuals for their ideas and expertise, for who they are, not what they are.
What life lessons have you learned throughout your career in the outdoor and design industries?
To live a genuine life – To apply my life experiences to design and to use my experiences outdoors to enhance my life.
How do you think the outdoor industry plays a role in empowering people?
I feel the outdoor industry has created a platform to empower individuals to become entrepreneurs, share great ideas and have the confidence to believe that you can make a living while making a difference.
What’s your favorite achievement in life?
I’m not sure I would call it an achievement, but what I value the most in my life is the circle of amazing and beautiful friends that I call my family – Relationships that have endured many years of fun, challenges and thriving. I’m quite proud of climbing the back side of Half Dome in my 40s and recently completing the Maui Half Marathon in my 50s.
What’s the best advice you’ve received recently?
The best advise I have ever received is to check in with my 80 year old self when pondering a question about my own life and goals. At 80, will I regret doing something or not doing something? Will I regret taking risks or not? I guess it gives me the long view – I really don’t want to have regrets.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
My health and my loved ones – people and pets. As I’ve arrived at this point in my life it has become abundantly clear to me that the people and pets that love me are what makes life worth living.
How do you define empowerment?
The courage to live a genuine life, to be independent, to speak your mind.
What advice or suggestions can you give to young people walking the path of empowerment?
Take risks and practice being brave every day.
What’s your favorite quote?
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
If you were a superhero, what would your outfit look like?
Something like an Amazon warrior queen. (*followed by laughs*)
How do you take care of yourself to maintain balance in your life?
Great question! It’s a work in progress. For me it’s about finding time to rest my brain and move my body outside every day. And it’s about listening to myself, doing what I need to do to take care of myself.
What is your vision or hope for women on the planet?
My biggest hope for women on this planet is to become allies and not see each other as a threat – in business, in their love lives and in their communities. We don’t need to size each other up – I feel it would be so much better if we could lift each other up.
What’s one question you’d like to ask yourself?
Are you happy?
Yes I am. ☺
How can people get a hold of you?
You can shop LiteGear Bags on their website. And you can contact Magi directly via email at email@example.com