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Charlotte Bowens, the founder of Conscious Gear, a brand dedicated to creating products that foster a more inclusive hiking community, received a surprising boost this week. Verizon awarded her a $10,000 grant to support her brand. This grant was the result of her participation in Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program, which offers resources and coaching to small businesses. Bowens won the grant after entering a competition through the program.

The VestaPak hydration pack created by Bowens is a prime example of Conscious Gear’s innovative approach to outdoor equipment. Its vest-style design sets it apart from traditional backpack-like straps, providing superior movement, hydration, and exercise capabilities. The idea for the Vestapak stemmed from Bowens’ personal weight loss journey and fitness experiences. She noticed a gap in the outdoor equipment industry and decided to address it with her brand.

The success of Conscious Gear has not gone unnoticed by the media. USA Today included the Vestapak in its list of the top 10 gifts for outdoor enthusiasts, highlighting its unique features and value as an essential tool for hikers of all sizes. Bowens expressed her gratitude for this recognition and emphasized that she is passionate about creating products that resonate with plus-sized individuals in particular. She plans to use the grant money to hire additional staff members, outsource order fulfillment, and cover office rental expenses while continuing to grow her business.

Despite occasional self-doubt, Bowens feels validated by the support she has received from both Verizon and the community at large. She remains committed to promoting inclusivity and innovation through Conscious Gear’s products while expanding into new markets such as REI Co-op stores nationwide and online platforms. The future looks bright for this dynamic brand as it continues to push boundaries in the outdoor industry with its innovative solutions and commitment to diversity and equality on every hike or adventure ahead!

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