KATY HOVER-SMOOT, FOUNDER
A lover of mountains and doughnuts, Katy grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she spent Friday evenings in the jump seat of her parents’ old Volvo station wagon driving from San Francisco to Tahoe. After completing her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz and her graduate work at Williams College and UC Berkeley, Katy took a job at Specialized Bicycle Components. There, she learned the importance of great product and cut her teeth in the outdoor industry. In 2013, she moved to Tahoe full-time to be closer to the mountains and the great skiing and biking Tahoe offers. She founded Wild Rye in 2016 to address the need for design-forward, technical apparel for the modern outdoor woman.
CASSIE ABEL, CO-FOUNDER
With island girl roots, having grown up on Vashon Island, WA, Cassie spent many of her formative years in the mountains of Sun Valley, ID where the mountains stole her heart. Following four years at Colorado College, Cassie did the city grind in Denver and San Francisco before the mountains won her back once and for all. Cassie is an avid outdoors and adventure enthusiast with a love for mountain biking, skiing, and just about anything else that keeps her outdoors, under the sun. Following three great years as the Communications Manager at Smith Optics, Cassie founded her own PR / Marketing consulting business, White Cloud Communication, which is what ultimately brought her to Wild Rye. Cassie currently resides in Sun Valley and telecommutes to Tahoe (and everywhere else the worldwide web takes her) working hard to bring Wild Rye to life.
The WILD RYE Story
You can find us on the trails, singletrack, skin track, and scrambling around our hometowns—we live for the alpenglow and love après. Wild Rye was founded in 2015 to make design-forward outdoor softgoods that you want to wear…day after day after day.
DRIVEN BY DESIGN
Beautiful. Technical. Responsive. At Wild Rye, we craft contemporary apparel for the modern outdoor woman. We’re innovating with natural fibers, colors, and the all-important-fit to deliver staples that you’ll want to wear day after day after day…
EMBRACE & INNOVATE
We embrace the rich history of outdoor apparel. But it’s our goal to continually look for new opportunities where we can innovate on existing products to better serve women who want to live life outdoors.
We like the overlooked. We’re always thinking about the position of your pocket, the color of your zipper, how a raglan fits a range of shoulder shapes better than a set-in seam. We’re here to obsess over the details so you can focus on other things—like climbing that damn mountain.
LISTEN TO WOMEN
We are surrounded by women who deeply enrich our lives—mothers, friends, sisters, partners. And these women have things to say about what they wish their gear did for them. As a product driven company, it’s our goal to listen to these needs—whether or not they align with our own personal experience.
A NOTE ABOUT OUR NAME
Buttermilk Apparel is now Wild Rye! We started this brand with a name that spoke to our roots. The Buttermilk Country Road off Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras is home to some of the best bouldering, hiking, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing access in the state. In changing the name, we continue to honor that heritage. The Sierra Wild Rye (Elymus Sierrae) grows in the Upper Montane Forest—between 6,000 and 9,000 feet—in the Sierra Nevada range. It’s a hearty grass that thrives in alpine meadows and granite outcroppings. Like us, it’s a mountain native! We'll miss Buttermilk, but we hope you will help us welcome Wild Rye. Until then, #playwild