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The Founding Story

By Stio Mountain on
 The Founding Story

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a bit obsessed with clothing.

My obsession first manifested in fourth grade after a move across the country from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Grand Junction, Colorado, where I faced the challenge of entering a new school. Much to my mother’s dismay, I insisted on wearing a green tracksuit to school – literally every day. Being the new kid and wanting to stand out, I likely appeared a complete imbecile, but I was never lacking in conviction. Truth be told that was one damn versatile tracksuit – rain, snow, sleet or sun, that suit kept me happy. Thankfully in fifth grade, possibly coinciding with the entrance of girls into my mind’s eye, I abandoned the tracksuit for more conventional fare – jeans, khakis, tees and polo shirts.

After a middle school career of general conformity, I reached high school and rebelled in uniform again. My burgeoning interests in non-traditional American sports drew me away from all-star teams and led me to skateboarding, running, road cycling, skiing, climbing, soccer and, a lifelong and landlocked obsession, surfing. This was also my introduction to new wave and punk music (oh where, oh where, is my Devo Energy Dome??). I started buying my clothes at the local Goodwill; knee length madras shorts, button front yarn dyes, old school prints and the like. Irony abounds as these very clothes and sports, once on the fringe, are now a large part of our mainstream culture. I guess we were just ahead of our time.

Fast forward to 1997. After ten very focused years of doing my best to become a climbing and backcountry skiing bum here in Jackson, Wyoming my ambitions to run my own business merged with my youthful apparel fixation. With a great business partner in tow, I started an outdoor apparel company and suddenly found myself designing and producing clothes. I’d found my calling.

We had a twelve-year run and a helluva lot of fun. We pioneered an entirely new category, had great employees, met some of the best people I’ll ever know, traveled the world, and are fortunate to still be good friends. However, after five years as GDI’s, facing constantly escalating demand and the matching cash flow issues, we went through three different financial deals. I now call this period the “hamster wheel years” and although it was a great learning experience, and the company grew tremendously – it was all quite messy. The run ended on a bit of a sour note, culminating with my funded but failed attempt to buy the business back. Sad and disappointed, all that was left was to say “c’est la vie”…and move on. So, after spending eighteen months honoring a forced vacation and the strong presence of that little boy in the green track suit in the depths of my heart, it’s on to the next adventure.

Enter Stio™…

Stio™ is a new outdoor lifestyle brand created with the help of some talented and wonderful people. Carefully and thoughtfully curated, Stio™ is driven and defined by the mountain world here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but very importantly, not limited to it. Suffice to say that with experience comes perspective and there are a myriad of influences at work in our product range. From the beautiful mountains, rivers, valleys and plains of our home in Wyoming, to the streets of Florence, to the beaches of Hanalei.

Stio™ will deliver creative, functional and versatile products that will compliment your life; products that you will be able to live in – not just outside, but at work, travel, and play. Constructed with the highest quality, function, and performance (Stio™ has partnered with the finest textile mills in the world, Polartec®, Schoeller®, Pertex® and Toray® among them) our product range will target the customer that demands beautiful products that complement their life in more than just their most extreme endeavors. Call it a “mountain maturity” if you will, we are not compelled to push a purely aspirational viewpoint or barrage you with the “raddest” shot of the most extreme skier or climber. We know these folks, many of us are these folks, and elements of this part of our mountain world are certainly part of our inspiration. But we are just as interested in providing you products for the quieter side of life – the days when you pull off something otherwise important to your heart and soul.

As is best practice in any new business, we’ve laid out the basic guiding principles upon which Stio™ will operate and wanted to share them here at the outset:

  • First, and foremost, to always be cool to each other and our customers.
  • Second, to build and operate a sustainable company.
  • Third, to continually strive to make meaningful and relevant products that enhance the outdoor life.
  • Fourth, to give back in both time and resource – to our local, regional and global community, the environment, and our families and friends.

As we like to say here in Wyoming, this isn’t our “first rodeo”…we’ve learned a few things along the way. That being said, we know that every brand is a continual work in progress and we will learn from Stio™ as it matures and grows. With that knowledge we will continually adapt and change, always refining to satisfy our customer’s demands. But we are very confident in one thing from the outset – we will be serving up some fantastic product!

So, sign up for our updates, get on our catalog mailing list, or simply check back in from time to time to watch our progress, read our chronicles of the agony and ecstasy of building a new business, and enjoy some good mountain story. Stio™ will be available through our catalog, ecommerce portal and our Jackson Hole Flagship Store, all of which will open for business this coming Fall 2012. We look forward to our launch and hope that you will join us for the ride.

Very Best,

Stephen Sullivan


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