Colorado is known for its breathtaking mountains, impeccable scenery and a seemingly endless list of outdoor activities. What is less abundant, however, is a selection of locally made apparel brands that are just as fashionable as they are functional. Enter Maroon Bell Outdoor, a fashion-conscious outdoor apparel company based in Denver. As a fourth generation Coloradoan, creator Jeremy Dougherty knows what clothing designs, cuts and fabrics work for people who like to get out and explore. Together, Dougherty and his team strive to not only create products that can be versatile and fashionable but to support the community as well. A percentage of profits go directly to local community organizations and Dougherty works with local artisans to help make Maroon Bell products whenever possible. They are just a few of the many things that make this brand so unique, so we sat down with Dougherty himself and had him take us through his journey with Maroon Bell Outdoor.
303 Magazine: When and how did you start to have an interest in fashion?
Jeremy Dougherty: After seven years on the East Coast I finally moved back to Denver. Something that I picked up on the coast when I lived in both Washington, D.C. and New York was fashion. I remember I walked into a happy hour wearing all kinds of mismatched items and then saw how everyone else was dressed. I decided this was something I wanted to change, so when I got back to Denver, I went on the hunt for fashionable outdoor apparel brands. To my surprise there was nothing. I really wanted something versatile where I could go hike and then head out to the bars without the need to change.
303: Once you discovered the idea for a fashion brand, what was your first step?
JD: My first idea was I needed to come up with a cool name. I have always loved the Maroon Bells and thought that reflected Colorado well. I got all my web addresses set up and all my trademarks in place and took off from there.
303: Tell us a little bit about the nonprofits you support.
JD: Something I decided is I would give three percent back to the following organizations so that as we rise they rise also. The three current nonprofits I work with include Project Worthmore, Denver Police Brotherhood and Cottonwood Institute. We also work with Mile High Workshop for cut and sew operations. They are a nonprofit that helps folks who are coming out of addiction, homelessness and incarceration and gives them a chance to get back on their feet.
303: What is one of your main marketing platforms?
JD: I go to various festivals and get involved in the community as much as I can. Some of the events we have been to include the Great American Beer Festival and the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail to name just a few. We set up a small retail space and I get to tell my story in person. This is great because this way people can see and touch the product. This is also beneficial for this brand because we are able to focus on the consumer and what is important to them above all.
303: What is a project you’re excited about right now?
JD: We came out with this Buffalo Leather Glove that looks like a 1930s driving glove. The motto that we want to come out of this product is The Great Gatsby meets the Rocky Mountains. The product itself is both fashion-conscious and versatile.
303: How do you use social media to promote your products?
JD: One thing I knew I had to do was to be innovative. The majority of my social media comes from Instagram and I run it by myself. I also have the capability to have my blogs published on my website which also helps get the name out to the public.
303: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far?
JD: There’s always a cliff you’re going to fall off of. What you have to do and what’s most important is to problem solve to get back up again.
303: Who has been your biggest support system throughout this journey?
JD: My wife is a first grade teacher and we started dating when I first developed the company. Throughout everything, she has been the most unbelievable support system.
303: What can we expect from Maroon Bell Outdoor in the near future?
JD: We are growing as quickly as we can and always come out with new products. For example, we are in the process of making a backpack for the fall that will be awesome.
All photography by Heather Fairchild.