Chilling with Fayettechill: Interview with Mo Elliott
Mo Elliott, The founder of a Fayetteville, AR based outdoor apparel brand cleverly named Fayettechill, chatted with us about his growing company and the plans he has for the future. Here is what he had to say:
Josh Campbell: What gave you the idea to start Fayettechill?
Mo Elliot: I was a junior at the University of Arkansas and I was shopping at the local outdoor stores like Lewis and Clark and PackRat and I just didn’t see a brand that represented the area and I would go on the white river fly fishing and mountain biking all in the region and everyone was wearing brands like The North Face and Patagonia that said California on it. I realized that no one was representing this region so I came up with some hat and shirt designs and Lewis and Clark was our first outdoor account and then PackRat followed. We started building on that and started trying to figure out how we could make it a legit outdoor brand based in the Ozark’s. And the rest is history.
JC: How long was the trek from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Fayetteville, West Virginia?
Mo: We took a two-week trip and mixed business with pleasure and we got a chance to really understand the Southeast. One of our climbers, Cole Fennel, was saying that we had to go check out Fayetteville, West Virginia; it’s some of the most unique climbing in the nation. He would always go out there with some of his friends from this area. And it just happened that the name was the same. That was never something that I planned. When we went to Fayetteville, West Virginia, it was just a cool mountain town. There were a lot of paddlers and climbers out there. There is also this really cool shop called Water Stone. All of our guys and their guys just kind of connected and we went climbing and paddling with them and my thought was that this could be our base camp for the Southeast. Which is has worked; we just got into one of the largest retailers in the region and we’re now in four new states. So that’s pretty cool.
JC: What gave you the idea for the new Journeyman Backpack?
Mo: I was at OR and there was a manufacturer that I met with that had some dry bag designs and we just added onto the base design that they showed me. And after a year of going back and forth with samples and revisions, that’s what we came up with. My main idea for it was just a multifunctional bag. I couldn’t really find that in the market. You had your real basic dry bag for 40 or 50 bucks, and Patagonia makes some really good dry bag backpacks but the fabric is always really thick and it’s an awesome product but for everyday use, it’s just not ideal. So we just met in the middle and we added some features that a normal backpack would have so you could use it in a more urban environment because that’s where you’re going to use it the most but you still want it to be very functional when you’re outdoors.
JC: Do you have any gear releases in the works other than the Journeyman?
Mo: We’re working on a rain jacket; we’ve been working on it for a year now. Being in the outdoors in Arkansas, rain is just an element that you’re constantly dealing with and it’s just a product that we’re all using in the company. On campus at the U of A, everyone has one. So that will be released Spring/Summer of 2015. We have a women’s product line that will launch Spring/Summer of 2015 as well.
JC: What would you say the biggest achievement of Fayettechill has been?
Mo: I would say building a national brand based in the Ozark’s with a name like Fayettechill. A lot of people were always saying that we could never really go outside of Northwest Arkansas and we’ve proven that wrong just with out attention to detail with putting out high quality products. Being the founder, I wasn’t this badass athlete who felt the need to come out with innovative product. With us, we’re just the everyday outdoor enthusiasts, nothing too crazy. That’s why we made a brand that most people can see eye to eye with.
JC: What are your future goals for Fayettechill?
Mo: I want to build this into a national brand for sure, and eventually go worldwide with it. There’s a lot of branding revisions that we are going to encounter. But also just putting out awesome products that are filling a need in the marketplace. Our new store that we’re opening on Dickson Street is super exciting for us. In the local area, we’re thinking of ourselves as a local institution, meaning we’re leading what is going on in this area, from the musical artists, to the outdoor industry. So I hope down the road, people see Fayettechill as one of the things that helped to put this area on the map.
JC: How would you describe the Smokehouse for someone who hasn’t been there?
Mo: We revamped a smokehouse that was in use for over 40 years. It was an interesting process of making it our own. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I like having an iconic brand whose shoes we filled. They had around ten stores from Tulsa to Little Rock. I see the owner of the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse daily and he really believes in our brand and he has helped us develop this space. We also have Mount Kessler that we’re lucky enough to ride every day, which have some of the best trails in Fayetteville. Our new store is actually in one of the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse retail locations so we’re integrating some of the smokehouse elements into the new store.
JC: How did your partnership with Kammok come about?
Mo: We started selling Kammok about a year ago and we felt that they’re the best hammocks on the market; they also had similar social branding to Fayettechill. So we decided to work together because we want to move into the Austin area where they are based and they want to move into the Northwest Arkansas area so it just worked out really well.
JC: Thanks for your time, I’ll keep an eye on the Journeyman project and I hope it gets funded.
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