After the Alaskan newspaper she was working for went bankrupt, Amy Hatch says she had a moment of sudden clarity.
“It started with that moment of thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…?'”
In that period of collapse came possibility, and since then, Amy hasn’t looked back. Last year, she launched an independently-sourced outdoor supply company called Garage Grown Gear. The company sells brands like Give’r, Kate’s Real Food, and Skida through an online forum that attempts to re-imagine buying gear and fuel for the outdoors.
Growing up in Colorado and spending most of her adult life in Alaska, Amy is, at her core, an adventurer and packrafting (traveling via a lightweight, inflatable water vessel) is an avenue through which she expresses that lifestyle. Since her first packrafting trip in 2008, which was born out of necessity to complete a story for an outdoor column, she’s been hooked.
But then she relocated from Alaska to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a year later. In her new surroundings, Amy was surprised at the lack of packrafting opportunities until she began to understand that the sport hadn’t caught on outside of Alaska. Rather than letting it hinder her, she saw an opportunity and founded Jackson Hole Packraft. The company became the first in the “Lower 48” to rent and ship packrafts to adventurers all over the U.S.
It was also her first taste of small business ownership — and it blossomed. But Amy didn’t stop there.
Her next venture — which she is currently running alongside Jackson Hole Packraft — is Garage Grown Gear (GGG), and it’s teaching her a tremendous amount about being on the “inside” of the outdoor industry. The company, which focuses on helping folks “discover innovative and wildly cool outdoor startups,” takes its unique approach a step further by pairing an online shop with a magazine. By doing this, Amy works to create an environment where buyers feel connected to the people behind the products.
It also helps her stay connected with her journalism background.
“My favorite part of Garage Grown Gear is that it’s a super creative outlet,” she says. “It’s a constant [balance] of dreaming and revisiting what can be done concretely. I love that inventive aspect of it.” Additionally, she remarks on the interactions she has with the engineers and designers who create the products she features, saying that being able to tell their story is another bonus of running GGG.
In her personal life, Amy is an all-around mountain athlete and new mom. As such, she juggles the responsibilities of managing staff, creating content for her website and blog, researching new gear, and making time for her family.
And adventure, of course.
From her home in Victor, Idaho, this avid backcountry skier skis Teton Pass several times a week. In the summer, she’s been known to hoist her three-year-old and a packraft onto a bike chariot, float down the Teton River, and bike back home.
While Amy acknowledges that it’s been a busy year of overcoming setbacks, testing her limits, and following dreams, it seems that her optimism, devotion to her community and family, and insatiable taste for adventure will carry her far.
“Hopefully, as the business goes on, we’ll continue to work on putting relationships first and telling stories that people find useful and engaging,” she says. “Ultimately, we want to be giving back to our local community while maintaining that work-life balance that draws us all to the mountains.”
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