Fayettechill has become one of the most iconic brands to come out of Northwest Arkansas and Fayetteville. Founded in 2009, the company has been on a strong growth trajectory ever since. Creating jobs and products that our community loves, helping to diversify our economy and generating new tax revenue, Fayettechill has had a notable impact on the region’s quality of life.
Below is our interview with Fayettechill Partner and CMO, Devin O'Dea:
When and how did the business get started?
Fayettechill was started by Mo Elliott in 2009. Mo was looking to create an outdoor lifestyle brand that reflected the unique, laid back culture and community of the Ozarks.
What struggles did the business have in the beginning? How did you overcome those?
At first, Fayettechill was equivalent to Fayetteville in most people’s minds, especially in other Arkansas markets. Growing our brand identity beyond simply a college-town brand into a dynamic outdoor lifestyle brand with a heart and spirit helped shake our geo-specific limitations. As we grew, we eventually punched through the geo-specific barrier, as we found that it was limited to the 3- to 5-mile radius around Fayetteville, AR of individuals who were directly aware of Fayetteville. As we started to sell to further distances on the East coast and in the Rockies, no one thought Fayettechill = Fayetteville, they just thought Fayettechill was an interesting word/take on the word chill. They wanted to know more. And because we had a deep brand story, we had plenty to share.
Who helped you most in the beginning?
There’s been a lot of guardian angels who have helped Fayettechill find success. In my mind, we took a big step forward as a legitimate brand when we got our store on Dickson and made our HQ the Smokehouse at the base of Kessler Mountain. This is 100% because of Frank Sharp, an incredible daily inspiration for our company and true Ozarks Legend.
Why did you pick Fayetteville to start a business in?
It’s a progressive culture incubator in a traditionally conservative part of the country. Fayetteville was a great setting for a progressive, millennial-centric outdoor lifestyle brand in a traditionally reserved and more matured industry. There’s a bustling entrepreneurship scene here that gives all kinds of support to get your business going in the right direction. The energy to start a business is “in the air” that you breathe and all around NWA.
What makes Fayetteville a startup-friendly city?
The open-minded citizens that are receptive to new ideas. Affordable cost of living and doing business. A perennially renewing market of college students that are willing to try new products and concepts. It’s a setting in the Ozarks that is a constant source of inspiration and escape when the hustle n bustle gets out of balance.
What makes the business successful? Why does it work?
The people. The customers that support us, the employees that create us, the athletes the rep us, the nonprofits that inspire us, the field reps that promote us and the city and region that hosts us. Fayettechill is truly a living, breathing enterprise and its DNA is the people that connect with Fayettechill. The part of the human spirit that is attracted to and inspired by the natural world is the secret to our sauce.
What is it about the people who live in Fayetteville that make this a unique place to do business?
Their exceptionally laid back approach to life. The grind is the exception, not the rule here. The Ozarks reminds us that there is more to wealth than just money, experience in quality of time is much more important. So we spend our time on trails and rivers, on rocks and in caves and become unwound and connected to nature because of it. For me, this reminds me that there are bigger things to be mindful of than just myself, and this thought drives the development of community.
What would you tell someone who is on the fence about starting a business in Fayetteville?
Have you identified a problem? Are you solving that problem for everyone, not just yourself? If so, jump in the ocean. The community will teach you how to swim.
What does the future of your business look like?
We are looking to suspend the world in nature, so this implies global ambitions. We are young and hungry and feel like there is a real need for the energy we look to spread with our apparel and media. Especially in times where public lands are being discussed for private, corporate use, when new pipelines are being greenlighted even though there is a global oil surplus and climate change is being erased as a concept from whitehouse.gov, the outdoor industry is needed more than ever. Ultimately, we are looking to mature our business so that we can help contribute to the planet that we all love so much.
How will Fayetteville help you reach your business goals?
Community and inspiration. There’s not a lot of places like Fayetteville in America and its unique nature gives us a competitive advantage in the national market. We are 1 of 1.
At the end of the day, what keeps you motivated to keep going?
I see two problems that our business aims to solve on the cultural level:
- At the individual level, we are wound up and need to relax. The outdoors can be intimidating if you don’t have the right gear or information. We look to make it as easy as possible and comfortable to get outside through our apparel and media. Once outside, we invite you to pause. Through this pause, we believe individuals become more sensitive to the natural beauty of the world and are more likely to want to protect and enjoy it.
- This leads to the global conversation. It’s clear that we are not on a good path in terms of the health of the planet. We look to inspire individual and community experiences that associate value with the natural world so that it is harder to harm it. We look to celebrate a simple life that needs to consume less and share more. You know, chill out the modern lifestyle that is unaware of the value of experiences outdoors and human’s effect on nature's ability to thrive.
What motivates us? Save the planet, man. You gotta love, protect and honor your Mother.
Learn more by visiting the Fayettechill website.