Jerrod Carmichael
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Find RV & Vanlife Camp Sites With App Co-Founded By Queer Woman

From left Breanne Acio with wife Lacey, co-founder Jess Shisler, and her partner

Breanne Acio is CEO and co-founder of Sēkr — and a woman of color who lives with her wife in a camper van six months of the year. Sēkr raised $2.25 million earlier this year to further its mission of making the outdoor travel experience safer, easier, and more accessible.

In 2016, Acio and her wife Lacey started new careers as teachers and were weighing life decisions ranging from career moves to children to a new home.

“We knew early retirement and travel were our top priorities and wanted to find a way to accomplish all of our goals as soon as possible,” Acio said. “On Christmas of that year, Lacey’s dad showed up with a Promaster and a vision of building it into a camper. After seeing that, Lacey and I decided to invest in our first ‘wheelestate’ and convert it into a camper, just like her father. We named the van Flipper and set off on our first extended vacation in May 2017. This was a liberating experience for us because we were able to choose when and where we wanted to go, for however long we wanted.”

“After a month on the road, Lacey looked at me and said, ‘I think I’m relaxed,’ with disbelief in her eyes and voice. At that moment, I realized we had never been able to feel that level of presence before. It hit me then and there that, unfortunately, most people might never experience it. Since then, it has been my mission to help others experience life on the road and in the outdoors.”

They then founded SD Campervans, a company where the couple upfits vans at an accessible price so more people could afford them.

“I’m proud to say there are over 100 people on the road in our builds, most of whom are women and people of color,” she said. “We also built a rental fleet of vans so more people could try out the lifestyle, even for a short period of time. Now with Sēkr, we help thousands of people, every single day, connect with the information and community they need to thrive in the outdoors. Lacey and I went from being tied to jobs we didn’t love in a place we couldn’t afford, to being free to live and work from anywhere we wanted.”

 

Breanne Acito co-founder of Sekr
Sekr CEO Breanne Acio 

 

Interest in RVing has absolutely been growing among queer travelers, Acio shared.

“There are so many groups and organizations focused on the outdoors now that cater specifically to the queer community,” she said. “For example, Pattie Gonia is an environmentalist drag queen and a great example of why and how outdoor travel is growing among LGBTQ travelers. Pattie documents photos and videos of themself on Instagram and TikTok, hiking and camping, both in and out of drag. One of our own goals with Sēkr has been to diversify the representation of people who love the outdoors and make the outdoors a more inclusive space for queer folks.”

Acio co-founded Sēkr with Jess Shisler with the mission of accessibility and inclusivity in mind. The company claims to have the largest database of campsites available and offers an easy-to-use map that includes more than 50,000 campgrounds and overnight options. The site also offers reviews. In five years, they’d like to see Sēkr become synonymous with outdoor travel.

“We are firm believers that when people seek out a meaningful outdoor lifestyle, they don’t return to old worldviews and perspectives,” Acio said.

Sēkr is a public benefit corporation that hopes to “protect the places we share by educating our members and partnering with nonprofit organizations like Leave No Trace and TreadLightly! to ensure our public lands stay clean and open for recreation.” 

This piece initially appeared in the Fall 2022 print issue of Out Traveler.

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