Empowering Inclusivity: Charlotte Bowens’ Journey to Revolutionize the Hiking Community with Verizon’s Small Business Grant

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

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 focused on creating products that help build a more inclusive hiking community. Her latest product, the VestaPak hydration pack, is designed to make it easier for people with bigger bodies to move, hydrate and exercise during outdoor activities. Her motivation for creating the VestaPak came from her own weight loss journey and the realization of a gap in the outdoor equipment industry.

The VestaPak has gained national attention and was named one of the 10 best gifts for outdoor enthusiasts by USA Today. 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.

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.

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