Behind the Brand: Q&A with Noso Patches founder Kelli Jones
Noso Patches may look small, but founder Kelli Jones has a big sustainability vision for her gear repair patches.
So how exactly does a former therapist-turned-accountant pivot her life again to develop a product that's making an impact in the outdoor industry? Well, if you're Kelli, chances are it'll be with a healthy dose of fun.
Cairn recently featured Noso Patches in a Monthly Collection, so we were excited to get the story behind the product that any outdoor-lover can appreciate.
You personally developed Noso Patches and launched it via Indiegogo just a couple of years ago and are growing an avid fan base in the outdoor community. How did the idea for this product come to you?
I hopped a barbed wire fence while hunting and tore my brand new Patagonia Fitz Roy puffy jacket on the sleeve. I wasn’t going to repair another piece of gear with tape, so I decided to make my own patches that were made of fabric, not vinyl tape. My first patch was in the shape of a heart, and I slapped it right on my sleeve.
The idea of Noso patches is a bigger picture sustainability story for you. How does a little patch make a bigger impact?
Little things make a big difference. Whether a smile at the post office, playing with a fussy kid in the grocery line, or even calling a friend to share a joke – you can make someone’s day. We all consume, but we should make every effort to extend the life of our gear as long as possible. Our little patches are a way for big manufacturers in the outdoor space to pave the way to a more sustainable future. Noso Patches wants to do just that – it’s our mission. We believe every company in the outdoor industry should bundle a little patch on all of their products… whether a backpack, sleeping bag, puffy jacket or tent - we think our little fabric patches will make a big difference. You get an extra button with a new sweater, so why don’t we get a coordinating fabric patch with all of our pricey gear purchases?
What has been your biggest challenge in developing and growing the business?
Our biggest challenge is scale. Our business has grown 500% in our second year. There is a demand for what we are doing, and our production team has been in 5th gear all year.
You and I got to meet up at OR and I can tell you like to have fun in life, no matter the scenario, but what’s been the MOST fun part of running Noso?
Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, you find the fun, ahhhhnd, snap, the job’s a game!" At headquarters, our employees say out loud to one another at times “Noso is a fun company." It’s kinda turned into our mantra. Anywho, yes we bring the fun.
MOST fun about running Noso is writing scripts for our wacky videos. The second MOST fun part is meeting new people. I love people, I love to entertain and make them smile and laugh. People say I’m a bit eccentric, but in an industry that is so milk toast, vanilla and square… it’s not too difficult to stand out. We like to keep people guessing and having fun!
What did you do for work before Noso (or maybe you’re still doing it)?
Well, funny you should ask. I have a master’s degree in psychology – I did therapy work for seven years…moved into accounting (private and public), did that for seven years… and now it’s Noso. Clearly, I get the seven-year itch with my career choices… so, I bet I’ll probably do Noso for seven years and move onto something else after :).
Do you remember the first time you saw one of your patches in the wild?
Um, yes. I almost cried, and I almost spilled this Ski Patroller’s coffee. I was parking my truck on a pow day with a friend riding shotgun at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. And I was like, "Emery… do you see that? That guy is wearing some Noso Patches!"
I forgot to put the car in park, jumped out and ran over to the guy. I was like, "Dude you’re wearing Noso Patches!!!"
I think he mumbled, "Yea." I really freaked this guy out, but I was on cloud 11.
Oh, and the car...it was in 4 wheel drive so it didn’t move – thank goodness.
Have you seen any really unique uses for the patch?
Yes, we did a collaboration with the German-based company Deuter, and they would send us photos of our patches in action. There was this Italian guy that used the Deuter patch to repair his motorcycle seat. I ride motorcycles, so it was cool to see them used to repair leather.
Another really unique use of a black heart patch from our signature line was on a Louis Vuitton bag. We were like, "OMG, we’re so Haute Couture!"
What’s your favorite outdoor activity? Any adventures on the horizon?
My new favorite outdoor activity is kiteboarding. I’ll be kiting with tiger sharks in Maui next week :).
Do you have a resolution for 2019?
No, I am who I am. I’m not going to try and tell myself, I’m going to do this “New Me” thing every year. What an exhausting way to live.
Learn more about Noso Patches at nosopatches.com or @nosopatches.
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