Who said you can’t mix work and play? Jelt Belt founder Jen Perry certainly thinks that a healthy mix is a necessity – in fact did the interview for this story while she was out hiking. Jen is the type of person who is so drawn to the outdoors and hiking that she decided to set up her office right along a trail up in Bozeman, Montana. Being outside and looking for her next adventure has always been her calling. Even as a kid she was always up for a game of basketball or a bike ride with no real destination – all that mattered to her was that she was seizing an opportunity to get outside. Rolling around in her 1991 Westfalia VW Bus, Jen’s always prepared to go explore somewhere new!
So, who is Jelt?
Well for starters, you can easily see Jen in her products and how much thought she put into creating these sustainable belts. Jelt was born from a tough, yet pivotal moment in Jen’s life. After a near death experience where her appendix ruptured she was forced to spend time inside, healing up in the hospital. It was in that hospital, walking around the fluorescent-lit halls, dragging an IV alongside her where she decided something needed to change. Realizing how close she got to death made her consider how much more there is to life so she made a promise to herself that she was going to do more and be more.
“I swear if I make it through this, I am going to give back”
Sure enough, she did do more and today she is giving back in more ways than we’re sure she ever imagined. Jelt is a certified B-corp and donates to several charities that help support those who have trouble supporting themselves. Being a firm believer in helping others and taking care of your environment, Jen was set on making sure that if she was to start a venture, it would be one that practices and preaches her personal core values. When talking with her, you can tell how proud she is of her ability to do such a thing:
“I walk the walk and you can check the facts.”
Besides the standout quality of the belts, what really sells her brand is her confidence in them, herself, and knowing that she does have quite an impressive fact sheet. Keeping in line with her brand values, Jen brought manufacturing to Montana and created jobs for local Bozeman women, as well as women living on remote, rural ranches. This allows these underrepresented women to embrace their power to provide for their families.
The lightbulb moment that turned into the seed for Jelt belt occurred one day shortly after Jen got out of the hospital. Having lost weight, she was looking at her belt and thought to herself that it would be much more comfortable if she could have an elastic belt like the one that’s sewn into the bottom of her ski jacket. She also figured this type of belt would be useful to others like her who are always outdoors.
Launching your own business is no easy task, but it is especially difficult when you’re a woman who is launching an outdoor brand by yourself in a market typically dominated by men. Do you remember playing games of kickball back in elementary school when someone on the other team would tell their team to move in closer to try to mess with whoever is kicking? That’s kind of how it was for Jen, except she sailed the ball over everyone’s head.
She has proven time and time again that you can run a small business that doesn’t sacrifice purpose for profits.
Read full article, published by Advanced Primate.