Editor’s note: This story, written by Josh Taylor Souza, first appeared on The City Wire.
You would never mistake Mo Elliott for a white-collar big-board, business exec, but make no mistake about it, the wunderkind owner/founder of Fayetteville-based clothing line “Fayettechill” has as much vision and business savvy as anyone you will come across.
Elliott and his cohorts look young enough to blend in with an intramural ultimate frisbee crowd. Skateboards and snap-back hats lay about the lobby of their office like a frat house, which is tucked away discreetly inside the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse in Fayetteville.
“The free smells alone are worth the rent we pay here,” joked co-owner Grant Holden.
Elliott, Holden and fellow co-owner Devin O’Dea (all under the age of 25) share a large office where all of the company brainstorming takes place. A long conference table in the middle of the room is filled with sketches of the latest designs. A rack of fleece jackets from the upcoming fall line is on display against the far wall. But the biggest project of Fayettechill’s future is on Elliott’s lap-top.
Eliott said he always wanted to own a company and initially used seed money he saved from working during high school. He shared his entrepreneurial passion with his friends and together they continue to grow the business.
“We are looking to expand our line across the region and we are hoping to make great strides this upcoming fall by adding a pop-up-store,” Elliott said. “Over the last few years we have made big strides growing the company in Northwest Arkansas, but now we are looking to expand in the neighboring region…
“If you ask anyone in a five-hour radius where the best camping is, most everybody you come across will say the Ozarks. Essentially, the consumer base is already aware of us on some level. The pop-up-store will only help increase our visibility.”
The pop-up-store is a revolutionary idea that will be a rolling retail shop. Imagine a tricked out Winnebago, stocked and locked with all the freshest Fayettechill merchandise. They bought a 33-foot Airstream that is being polished and decorated inside to resemble the company’s base camp store.
“This will allow us to go places we haven’t been able to go before and it will allow people who have only had access to our products online the ability to physically browse our stuff,” said Elliott.
He said they will be taking the pop-up store to Tulsa, Dallas and Kansas City to start.
Fayettechill was created by Elliot while he was still attending the University of Arkansas. Since his graduation in 2009, Elliott has opened two retail stores in Fayetteville, the newest of which opened last August on West Avenue. He has been active as a leader in the local entrepreneurial alliance and also served as a director for the Iceberg co-work facility in Fayetteville.
“When I first started, it was much tougher because I was the only one on the staff. Holden and O’Dea graduated a couple years after me,” said Elliott. “I guess I was working about 45-50 hours a week, but things have changed quite a bit over the last few years and our goal is to get bigger and better all the time.”
Very popular among outdoorsman of all ages, the brand has become more than just recreational clothing, it is fast becoming a statement of local style. From the UA campus to Dickson Street and on every inch of the bike trail you can see locals “repping” Fayettechill gear.
“Obviously (the Ozarks) have some of the most beautiful parks and camp grounds you will find in a three-state radius so we do a lot of business with people who are outdoorsman,” said Holden. “But we are selling a lot of shirts to kids who may have never been camping.”
The relaxed atmosphere of the Fayettechill workspace is an offshoot of the energy shared between its owners. The co-owners (Elliott and Holden) have been life-long friends, originally hailing from Dallas and attending the same high school (Lake Highlands). O’Dea joined the group from Tulsa when they were attending the U of A.
The company, which started with one employee, has since added 11 more full-time positions, with plans to grow. Fayettechill gear is available in 29 retail outlets as well as their own two retail stores. Lewis and Clark and Pack-Rat are among the long list of retailers that carry Elliott’s designs.
Access the company’s web site here.