Entrepreneur designing size-inclusive hydration packs awarded $10K small business grant

Charlotte Bowens, the founder of Conscious Gear, a brand dedicated to creating products for a more inclusive hiking community, received a surprise this week that will help her business grow. 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 provides tools, coaching, and resources to small businesses.

Bowens won the grant after entering a competition through the program. Verizon Arizona Director of Small Business Sales Claudia Hidalgo stated that Charlotte was chosen for the grant because she is an active and engaged user on the platform. Her story resonated with Verizon, making her a deserving recipient of the grant.

Charlotte Bowens has been featured in ABC15 specifically highlighting their VestaPak hydration packs designed to better fit larger bodies. The Vestapak utilizes a vest-style design, different from traditional backpack-like straps, to enhance movement, hydration, and exercise. This innovative product stemmed from Bowens’ personal weight loss journey and fitness experiences. Throughout her fitness endeavors, she noticed a gap in the outdoor equipment industry and decided to address it with her brand.

The news of receiving national attention came as a pleasant surprise for Bowens when USA Today included the Vestapak in its list of the top 10 gifts for outdoor enthusiasts. She expressed that she feels validated by the support she has received from the community and believes in the importance of her work. Despite occasional self-doubt, she plans to use this grant money to hire a team member, outsource order fulfillment, and cover office rent expenses while expanding her brand by developing new products such as hiking shorts and shirts catering to plus-sized individuals. Additionally, she is working on making

By Sophia Gonzalez

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