Being a Small Business Owner means there is going to be something new right around the corner every day. Plenty of ups and downs, but more ups than anything else.
Mo Elliot was a junior at the University of Arkansas. As he thought about graduation, he wasn’t sure what his prospects might be. It turned out the answer was right in front of him. Specifically, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, which Elliot and his friends consider one of the most under-appreciated areas for outdoor recreation in the nation. And he didn’t even wait to graduate.
“The concept was to develop a brand that reflected the lifestyle we were living,” says Elliot.”This area has great mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, and camping.”
Elliot believed that while the outdoor “vertical” had brands for hunters, brands associated with the steep peaks of the Rockies, and even brands built around a Northern California aesthetic, his region had something new to offer – and a proud people to represent.
“For the first few years, it was just me,” says Elliot. “I was still in school and started out like most people in the industry, embellishing shirts and hats, working with a local screen printer.” Eventually, Elliot was able to expand the business by adding partners Devin Odea and Gran Holden. Fayettechill now has 18 full-time employees, a retail space in Fayetteville’s entertainment district, and an 18,000 sq ft warehouse nicknamed the “Smokehouse.”
“Ozark Mountain Smokehouse was a regional meat and cheese brand with ten retail locations in Arkansas and Oklahoma,” says Elliot. “It was an iconic Ozark brand, so we wanted to incorporate part of that tradition into what we were doing. The wood and industrial metal elements you see in our retail store and even in the overall marketing of our products come from here.”
The team Elliot and Fayettechill have built are one of its keys to success. All of Fayettechill’s employees are under the age of 27, and the office is in constant motion. The retail location has become an important hub of social activity in the community. “The common ground we have is doing mountain sports,” says Elliot. “In this area you can mountain bike, fly fish, hike, kayak. Our marketing is really just us documenting the lifestyle we are living.”
It seems to be working. The brand has enjoyed triple-digit growth over the past three years. In 2013, they upped their game by starting to design their clothing from the ground up, from choosing the cotton all the way through production and sales. It’s made for some long hours, but the team has never lost sight of their mission to live what their brand represents.
“Being a Small Business Owner means there is going to be something new right around the corner every day. Plenty of ups and downs, but more ups than anything else,” Elliot says. “The only thing I would change would be adding more time to go surfing.”
Photos by Shaul Schwarz
Swatches of fabric and detailed drawings serve the design process.
It may be of no surprise that every day is bring-your-dog-to-work day.
Customers and employees connect over coffee. It can be hard to tell who's working and who's shopping.
Fayetteville now does all design work in-house. Here, an employee reviews concepts for their next line.
The camaraderie is palpable at Fayettechill. This is truly a company of good friends having a really good time.
Living the lifestyle that inspired the company, Mo Elliot breaks out for a solo run on the single-track paths on Mount Kessler.
With a location off popular Dickson Street in Fayetteville, the retail shop - which Mo calls "basecamp" - has become a social hub for young outdoor enthusiasts.
Fayettechill recently created its own craft beer: Fayettechill Amber Farmhouse Ale.
What does your break room like? Founder Mo Elliot watches a co-worker practice his bouldering skills on the climbing wall at Fayettechill, built inside the "Smokehouse."
Fayettechill is a destination in and of itself. A place for like-minded outdoor enthusiasts to socialize.
With a team of 18 employees, all under the age of 27, Fayettechill seems to be in constant motion.
"Here sir, let me get that button for you."
Fayettechill's dedication to preserving the heritage of the region inspired them to revitalize the old Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, where they now office.
Mo Elliot, age 25, rolls into work to run a multi-million dollar company.
Q & A
We sat down with Mo Elliot, founder of Fayettechill, to get his perspective on being a Small Business Owner.
Tell us a little about how Fayettechill has grown and what it’s becoming.
We’ve had triple-digit growth since I started the company. We’ve started our own store on Dixon Street, which is our main entertainment district, with a coffee shop and brew pub. So that’s our flagship location, and we’re sold at over 80 retail locations across the country, mostly specialty outdoors stores. And of course we sell online.
What’s it like to be a Small Business Owner?
It’s better than working for someone else. Our work atmosphere comes from guys all in their 20s…and we’re all friends, so running a multimillion dollar company with that dynamic is something that is pretty unique.
What would be your advice to someone starting out?
I would learn from people that are in the industry that you want to start a company in. A step on top of that is working at a brand or a company that is in that field. A lot of mistakes can be solved and learned from that process. I got into this business not knowing anything about the manufacturing process or the textile industry or branding. I just learned along the way, but having a couple of years of experience would really help in the long run.
What’s the dream?
The dream is me running this. I mean, I’m always looking forward to the weekend with what am I going to do outside. Mountain bike, fly fish, might even go backpacking. And to continue to have this brand that services that need and lifestyle, that’s something really important. An overall workplace for all the guys that work their asses off. Having a really cool work environment for them so they can do the same things. Yeah, just having the big boy toys to do all those outdoor trips and all the tools to do it.