From Startup to Success: Charlotte Bowens and Conscious Gear Secure $10,000 Grant to Promote Inclusivity in the Outdoor Community

Winner of small business grant awarded $10K for creating size-inclusive hydration packs

Charlotte Bowens, the founder of Conscious Gear, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from Verizon to help her grow her business. The grant came as a result of her participation in Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program, which provides tools, coaching, and resources to small businesses. Verizon chose Bowens for the grant because of her active engagement with the program and her inspiring story.

Bowens founded Conscious Gear with the goal of creating products that promote inclusivity in the hiking community. Her latest product, the VestaPak hydration pack, has gained national attention and was named one of the 10 best gifts for outdoor enthusiasts by USA Today. The VestaPak is designed to be vest style making it easier for people with bigger bodies to move, hydrate and exercise during outdoor activities. Bowens’ motivation for creating the VestaPak came from her own weight loss journey and her realization that there was a gap in the outdoor equipment industry.

The grant has allowed Bowens to hire a team member, outsource order fulfillment and cover office rent. She also plans on using the money to expand her brand by developing new products such as hiking shorts and shirts for plus-sized individuals. Bowen’s ultimate goal is to get the VestaPak into REI Co-op stores nationwide and online. She continues to be dedicated to promoting inclusivity in the hiking community and is grateful for support she has received from both Verizon and other community members.

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