With more than 15 years at Vista Outdoor and its predecessor, Orbital ATK, Kelly Reisdorf is now chief communications officer and general manager, responsible for all facets of external communications. She also serves as general manager of Venor, a hunt-inspired women's apparel brand, now under the Vista umbrella. The unique, wild patterns offered through Venor (latin for "I hunt") caught the eye of NRA Women, so we decided to check in with this U.S. Marine Corps veteran who, as it turns out, lives and breathes the outdoor lifestyle that defines her work.
NRAW: Tell us a little about your background and how you came to work for Vista.
KR: I grew up in the Midwest, and was with the company nearly 10 years under ATK prior to the spin off. Prior to that, I was in technology and worked on several medical device IPO's, and prior to that was college and the Marine Corps.
NRAW: What inspired you to become a U.S. Marine?
KR: It’s a complicated answer, but the short answer is—the inspiration was born out of a love for this country and a commitment to service. We are so privileged to be able to live in the greatest country in the entire world and I wanted to be a part of making it happen.
NRAW: When did Vista acquire Venor and why?
KR: We acquired Venor in April 2021. The concept for this brand was born out of a love of outdoor experiences and adventure with an intent around creating a community to connect other women. The Venor lifestyle is anchored in a recognition of how these activities bring people and families together. This brand is a powerful addition to our better together model, and another instance in which we can make 1 + 1 = 3 in term of business performance and brand power. In short, we see an opportunity to drive increased engagement from this powerful consumer demographic which we view as critical to long term sustained market growth.
NRAW: Tell us about the Venor line and any plans for expansion of the brand.
KR: Venor has an eye-catching line of hunt-inspired athleisure items for women. We are looking to build on this line and expand into lifestyle and functional categories—to support women in the field and off the field.
NRAW: What is lacking (if anything) in women’s hunting clothing today?
KR: On the one hand, women do have a lot of options for garment options to support women in the field, but on the other hand—I think we can do better with fit and dare I say fashion. I know fashion is the big “F” word—but I, like many other women, want to feel good and confident and be taken seriously in their pursuits and don’t want to sacrifice function to make it happen.
NRAW: Do you shoot and hunt?
KR: Yes! I do both. I am a hoarder of firearms and hunting is more than something I do for work. It’s a family tradition, a hobby and a passion. One of my greatest joys has been from the time spent in the field sharing this love of the land and conservation with my children—all of whom have spent time in the backcountry with me and developed a respect for the chase as I have. Hunting has become a part of our life—whether it’s preparing for a hunt, to learning about the animals, to developing self-sufficiency skills, to developing an appreciation of knowing where your food comes from—so much joy has come from sharing these experiences with my children. I am old school and believe that hunters are the original conservationists—and I want to do what I can, with the resources I have, to improve the narrative around what motivates and inspires the hunting community so that we can work together to develop generations to come. I’ve hunted across the country and globe, with more stories and harvest than this page can handle!
NRAW: Do you have a favorite shooting/hunting/outdoor activity?
KR: It’s hard to pick one activity as I truly enjoy spending time in nature whether it’s hiking or mountaineering or hunting. Some of my fondest memories are summitting Kilimanjaro or hiking the Grand Canyon with my kids, or searching on Pinterest with my 12-year-old for recipes to experiment with wild game we have harvested. The current inflation we are seeing in the commercial meat industry has nothing on us!
NRAW: How is Vista responding to the exponentially growing women’s shooting and hunting market?
KR: It started with Venor. We are learning about this growing demographic and are gaining insights that are not just helping me grow Venor, but also informing our sister brands, like Federal, Remington and Bushnell. This better-together model will help the entire Vista Outdoor organization better connect and serve this group. Overall, we want to better connect with and engage with this critical consumer demographic as we believe it’s critical to develop future generations of hunters and shooters, and involve the entire family in the process.
We also are changing our culture. Starting with our Board and CEO, we are doing more to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within our company. We are now disclosing diversity metrics in our annual ESG report. These disclosures are showing us that we need to do better in the hiring, development and promotion of women and other diverse voices. The end-consumer is changing, so we recognize that we ought to change too.
NRAW: How has your military background helped you succeed not only in business, but in the firearms and outdoor space?
KR: The Marines is an interesting and strong culture. I have learned so much about not only strategy, execution, people and process—but most importantly—grit. There are two adages all business leaders would do well to remember which are: “Let’s not confuse efforts with results,” and also, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.” Who better than a Marine to be able to master the art of doing more with less based on this? You need to understand your enemy, understand yourself and most of all—have discipline in all you do. And in particular to the firearms and outdoor space, there is a strong connection for me to the second amendment and ultimately, freedom, but also—to spending time in nature and experiencing all the joy and healing that outdoor recreation can provide.
NRAW: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
KR: When I am not at the hockey rink or lacrosse field watching my kids, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and making pottery.
For more on Kelly Reisdorf and the Venor brand, visit VistaOutdoor.com.