Editor’s note: The author in April 2019 began to work closely with Give’r to run their Facebook advertising campaigns through 9 Cloud Web Works. But Mark Wilcox began covering the startup journey of Give’r in 2016 for the Wyoming Business Report and works hard to ensure journalistic impartiality in his continued press coverage.
When it works, it works.
That may be the simple reason Jackson-based apparel manufacturer Give’r is returning to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for its third major product launch.
Crowdfunding is a newer process in the business fundraising realm used by startups like Give’r to raise money for the launch of a product. This is usually achieved by offering presales of that product with bonuses attached for people who spend more in the prelaunch phase or pricing discounts for the earliest adopters.
Other Jackson manufacturing startups including DMOS Collective, Noso patches and Arms Reach Industries have also successfully launched products on Kickstarter or rival platform Indiegogo to great success. DMOS even recently successfully completed its third product launch on Kickstarter for its line of outdoor collapsible metal shovels. The campaign brought in $147,000 from 683 backers despite having two other similar product launches on the platform.
Give’r earned regional recognition prior to its first Kickstarter launch, but really hit the national map of outdoor startups in 2016 after it launched a 4-season pair of gloves through Kickstarter. The campaign earned national media attention from the likes of Outside Magazine, GearJunkie, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal and more.
Outside called them “Bomber gloves that are just as happy living in your Toyota year-round as they are shredding on the ski hill,” the magazine wrote. “With a waxed and baked leather outer, waterproof-breathable membrane and Thinsulate insulation, they’re great for frigid resort ski days while being breathable enough for long backcountry missions.”
The Kickstarter campaign for the gloves brought in $224,000, with more than 2,000 people preordering a pair or more. Three years later, the gloves remain a “hyped” flagship product. Why? Founder Bubba Albrecht says he doesn’t plan to make a fashion company churning out a new line every season. Instead, he focuses on quality and a design that works well enough to be in it for the long haul.
After the glove love that came in riding a Kickstarter wave, Albrecht and company returned to Kickstarter in 2018 to launch the Ol’ Faithful, a “go-to midweight pullover” designed for comfort and durability as a classic layer.
That campaign saw similar success as nearly 1,300 people backed the product with about $157,000 in pre-orders.
Since launch, though, the gloves have been praised nearly universally across media and by users for their versatility, toughness and waterproofness. But not everyone’s been entirely pleased.
No love for the gloves
While the great majority of reviews for the original 4-Season Glove resonate with positively glowing 5-star ratings, some few complaints do slip into the review stream. The grievances usually come from people either having trouble breaking them in or using them in too-cold temperatures where fingers get cold.
“I was excited to get these gloves for this year’s snow clearing efforts,” wrote one two-star reviewer on the company website after receiving the gloves the mittens are based on. “But after the last month am going back to ski gloves. Today it is 8 degrees outside and I was snow blowing for about 20 minutes and had to come in as my fingers were frozen!”
Others echo the complaint.
“I live in Maine and my hands felt cold and damp from the first time I tried them,” another reviewer wrote, adding that the thumb wore out after a year of light shoveling. “I have gloves that I paid $20 for that have lasted from four to five years. Very unhappy.”
Few reviewers feel the same, though, with near universal praise.
“It takes less than a week to break them proper in, after that they only get better, the grip is amazing and they are as advertised, really warm and comfortable,” reviewer Henrik Ortved said.
Even so, the cold criticism is where Albrecht said he saw the need for the mittens, which are functionally and visually nearly identical to their popular glove predecessor. Except they’re mittens, which better retain body heat by keeping the fingers together.
“It started with a few emails, phone calls and chair lift rides: ‘Those gloves look awesome ... but I’m a mitten person,’” Will (Skipper) Phelan, lead product designer at Give’r, said in an email. “Or, ‘I love your gear, but my fingers get too cold ... I can only wear mittens.’”
Those requests “for an equally rad Give’r 4-Season Mitten” became more and more frequent until they decided to do something about it.
“We’re fired up to share the inside scoop with you that they are coming!” Phelan said.
The concept for the mittens started in 2016, Phelan said, and the company tinkered its way through at least six versions, with most of those occurring in the past year as the goalposts got closer.
“The prototypes crushed it even on the coldest of Jackson Hole days this last winter,” Phelan said.
In a press release, Albrecht echoed the sentiment, sharing some of the test cases. With the original 4-Season leather gloves, Give’r received a lot of notoriety after Albrecht himself stuck his leather glove-encased hands into boiling water, picked up a burning log on a fire and more to illustrate their versatility and insulation. Similar testing occurred for the mittens.
“While ice fishing (among many other wacky and frigid test cases), I stuck my mittened hands into the 32.1-degree water and let them chill,” Albrecht said in the release. “When it comes to warmth and waterproofness, we test to the extremes in any way we can!”
While not on Kickstarter as of press time, Albrecht and Phelan said the mittens should hit the platform this month with a campaign that runs into October prior to a Christmas delivery.
“We can’t wait to launch and get them out there!” Phelan said.