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

Verizon Grants $10,000 to Conscious Gear Founder for Inclusivity in Hiking Community

Charlotte Bowens, the founder of Conscious Gear, recently received 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 is working towards getting the VestaPak into REI Co-op stores both nationwide and online. She continues to be dedicated to her mission of promoting inclusivity in the hiking community and is grateful for the support she has received from the community. The VestaPak has gained national attention, with USA Today naming it one of the 10 best gifts for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bowens expressed her surprise at receiving the grant and shared her plans to use the money to hire a team member, outsource order fulfillment, and cover office rent. She also mentioned her excitement for expanding her brand and developing new products like hiking shorts and shirts for plus-sized individuals. The design of the VestaPak includes a 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 the realization of a gap in the outdoor equipment industry.

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