The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced today that SheFly, a women-owned, early-stage outdoor clothing company, has selected Gunnison, CO for its company headquarters.
SheFly pants include a patented zipper design. In addition to the regular zipper fly that allows women to take the pants on and off, a second zipper extends from beneath the first zipper to the back of the waistband. This design allows women to unzip only as far as needed to maximize privacy on the trail, in the woods or anywhere else nature calls.
Co-Founder and CEO Georgia Grace Edwards got the idea for the pants while working as a glacier guide in Alaska. When she returned to Middlebury College in Vermont, she shared her idea with fellow students Bianca Gonzalez and Charlotte Massey. Through a four-week entrepreneurship class, they built the idea into a business model and began sewing pants from their dorm rooms.
“As someone who also started a business from my dorm room, I understand the innovative spirit necessary to turn an idea into a business and what it takes to help people start a small business. Gunnison and Colorado is an outdoor recreation mecca and SheFly is a wonderful addition to our state,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Whenever we can support good-paying jobs in rural Colorado, especially in a company that provides diversity to the industry, we will.”
“I can think of few places better suited for an outdoor apparel brand focused on increasing accessibility and empowerment in the outdoors,” said Edwards. “As a 100% women-run company, SheFly is incredibly lucky to be able to scale our startup in a place where we have access to capital, a wide variety of product testing grounds and activities, business mentorship, resources, education, and networks, a workforce that’s passionate about improving outdoor spaces and experiences, a constant stream of our core customer segment, and a chance at the work-play balance we all strive for. Some of the outdoor industry’s heaviest hitters came from rural Colorado communities, and it’s an honor to be able to follow in their footsteps.”
Edwards continued, “I hope our move challenges the traditional entrepreneurial narrative that startups must be run by college-dropouts in Silicon Valley and serves as an example to underrepresented communities everywhere of the ways individuals, municipalities, and businesses can come together in putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to funding the values for which they care most. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes one to build a business. We carry an enormous amount of gratitude for every single customer, mentor, company, and rural community that has helped put us on the map — from our dorm room floors to the floor of the second-largest outdoor retailer in the country.”
The company discovered Colorado through the Moosejaw Accelerator, an 8-week intensive business mentoring program for early-stage outdoor recreation companies guided by the ICELab at Western Colorado University. Moosejaw focuses on promoting diversity and inclusivity in the outdoor recreation industry.
SheFly expects to create 24 net new jobs over five years at an average annual wage of $65,075, which is 161 percent of the average annual wage in Gunnison County, a Tier Two Just Transition county. The jobs will include management, design and marketing.
The Economic Development Commission (EDC), in a rare move, increased the Strategic Fund incentive to $156,000 to secure SheFly’s headquarters. Commissioner Jay Seaton noted that while a 1:1 local match is EDC policy, the Commissioners have the ability to increase the award for each net new job. He recommended doing so because of the number of jobs created in rural Colorado and the communities with which the state was competing (Chelan, WA and Burlington, VT). He then made a motion to increase the award which was seconded by Commissioner Wendell Pryor and carried unanimously.
The town of Gunnison will also provide $75,000 in support of SheFly.
“The economic prosperity and resiliency of our city is a key priority for all of our citizens, and we welcome and explore all opportunities to achieve this,” said Diego Plata, Mayor of Gunnison. “We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with OEDIT to bring SheFly to the City of Gunnison and we look forward to seeing the great results that will come out of this.”
SheFly expects to open its headquarters at the ICELab at Western Colorado University, a business resource center and coworking space for small businesses and student entrepreneurs alike in the Gunnison Valley. To learn more about their products and job opportunities, visit their website at https://sheflyapparel.com/.