As we gear up for many exciting things to come in 2022 (and take a much needed end of year break), the SheFly team is looking back on all the incredible moments and milestones of the past year. Thank you as always to our incredible community, advisors and team who have gotten us here!
1. Charlotte: Joining Moosejaw Outdoor Industry Accelerator Program
Finding out that our community showed up big time and voted us into the Moosejaw Outdoor Industry Accelerator Program, and then immediately panicking because I had no idea how we’d manage participating in an in-person accelerator during a pandemic while all working full-time jobs. We made it work but that was a logistically complicated few months!
2. Georgia Grace: Testifying before the U.S. Senate
Testifying before the U.S. Senate at the invitation of Senator Leahy of Vermont. As a college student working 3+ jobs a semester, there were quite a few times when I questioned our decision to sink thousands from our personal bank accounts into SheFly’s trademarks, patents, and legal fees. This year, it became especially clear that we’d made the right call in prioritizing our IP portfolio. The opportunity to speak before the U.S. Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and share our recommendations to better the process for the female and minority founders who will come after us was one of the greatest honors not just of 2021, but of my life thus far.
3. Charlotte: Trying On Our New Samples
Trying on our first round of size 6 samples from our new factory with our new and improved fabric. I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous and excited to open a package before. It felt like such a make-or-break moment: these samples needed to be fantastic. And they were! I wore those samples for a week straight because I was so thrilled with them.
4. Georgia Grace: Embracing Vulnerability
The pandemic has exposed a lot for me, both professionally and personally. It gave me the clarity to be honest with myself about how I’d like to spend my time, who I’d like to spend it with, and which values are most important to me. It turns out that vulnerability is high up there. Before this year, I felt a lot of pressure to combat imposter syndrome by appearing as much as possible like a “real” company. When COVID-19 put our factory out of business overnight – resulting in a loss of everything we’d invested in over the past year plus – we had no choice but to be transparent about it all. From supply chain struggles to “live stream” tutorials, we’ve learned how to be open and honest, which has been celebrated in the form of a 6,000-person waitlist and a successful fundraise.
5. Charlotte: Our Invitation to Colorado
Witnessing the Governor of Colorado showing up to our booth at Outdoor Retailer with an entire press team, camera crew, and entourage to officially ask us to consider Colorado for our new headquarters. Then the Economic Development Commission voted to offer us $156,000 in moving incentives, when we’d only put in a request for $75,000. We've been blown away by the support and encouragement we've received from people across the state and are so grateful for this community!
6. Georgia Grace: Winning the top $100,000 MassChallenge Diamond Award
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous for a pitch. The MassChallenge Accelerator is one of the most prestigious and well-recognized in the world – one that we’ve dreamed of being accepted into since college. It was an incredible experience to take questions from a judging panel made up of some of the most impressive business leaders in the U.S. and appear alongside startups who are crafting the future of health, science, technology, and culture as we know it.
7. Charlotte: Winning Outside Business Journal’s Top 50 Products of 2021
The win was our first national recognition for the pants themselves and we were thrilled that Outside’s team of staff writers and outdoor enthusiasts loved the product! We didn't have quality pictures to send to the magazine, though, and we had to take our own flat lay images using bedsheets from our dorm room beds at the Moosejaw Outdoor Industry Accelerator.
8. Georgia Grace: Meeting SheFly Fans who have since become friends
I went for a hike in Telluride and met a rad woman from Australia named Cassie. We got talking about what had brought us there, and when I explained that we were in town to catch a SheFly appearance in a short film playing at Mountainfilm, she immediately went, “No way, I know SheFly! Been following you gals on Instagram for years.” Interactions like these have happened more times than I can count since our start, but this was one of the first times I really believed that a stranger knew us and wasn’t just being kind for the sake of the interaction. Cassie is a long-term fan from a dozen time zones away, and the realization that all the hours of work we’ve put into brand recognition do pay off was really validating. Cassie has since become one of the women I look up to most in the outdoors. She visited me in Crested Butte, where we rock climbed together. This year in particular made me so grateful for the SheFly Family and the way it brings women together to empower each other outside, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
9. Charlotte: Placing our biggest purchase order ever!
We ordered over 10 times as many pants as we had before to meet demand from our 6000+ waitlist and the purchase order we got from Moosejaw Mountaineering. It was so fun to finally be able to meet every minimum and be able to offer multiple colors in multiple sizes!
10. Georgia Grace: Going full-time with SheFly
We’ve been pressured to go full-time since our senior year of college. Instead, the SheFly Founders opted to go against the grain of the traditional “Steve Jobs” model of entrepreneurship. We didn’t drop out – we invested in ourselves by earning degrees, holding full-time jobs, building out our networks, and gaining new skills, all of which we are now able to bring to SheFly. When I think about the fact that we are employing ourselves and creating jobs for others in a way that makes a positive difference in the world, I still have to pinch myself to believe it.
11. Bonus Highlight! We're a Finalist for Outdoor Retailer’s 2022 Innovation Awards
We’ve been attending OR for three years now, yet 2022 is the first year we will have real product and be able to take wholesale orders! It’s not everyday you see your startup’s name appear in a list alongside so many of your industry idols, and this announcement has us so incredibly stoked for Snow Show in January 2022!