A 24-year Jackson Hole local, Steve Sullivan (and business partner Brian Cousins) created the apparel company Cloudveil in 1997. It was the brand that introduced soft shell fabrics to the outdoor community. By 2008, Cloudveil grew to $22 million in global sales. But the success story soured when ownership changed hands and Sullivan failed in a bid to buy back the company. He left in 2010, but began planning his return to outdoor apparel as soon as his non-compete clause expired last fall. Sullivan’s first name in Gaelic—Stiofan—inspired the brand name Stio. Mountain caught up with Sullivan in August to learn more about the new company.
The minute I got over the disappointment of not being able to retain my brand, I said, well, I’ll just start another one.
Stio is a very different start-up. We started Cloudveil with a few bucks in the bank, a whim and a prayer, and one good idea: This soft shell jacket and pant that we introduced. Stio is a much more sophisticated start-up. It’s well funded, and I’ve got an excellent team of outdoor industry professionals leading charges in all different departments. It’s a much more methodical march to an end goal.
It’s still a tremendous amount of work.
Stio is a direct to consumer business. We’re selling through the website and catalogue distribution, and we’re going to open a retail store this fall here in Jackson. We’ll make a beautiful product line and let the consumer dictate where it goes by virtue of the fact that they either buy it or they don’t.
A key catchphrase for us is technical fabrics meets lifestyle. We’re taking the best of what I know about technical fabrics and construction techniques and applying it to the lifestyle genre. It’s product that you can live in.
We’re just trying to encourage people to live an outdoor life and spend time in the outdoors.
Companies really push the aspirational angle to the extreme: Never stop exploring. Go climb an 8,000-meter peak. Do the M7 waterfall. Ski the sickest line. We’re definitely not pushing that. It’s more about a slightly older demographic that probably lives a professional life somewhere else and gets to the mountains as much as they can.
We’re using the best textiles in the industry. We went back to the well on a lot of relationships I’ve had over 15 years, and we’re using Polartec, Schoeller, Pertex, PrimaLoft, and a ton of other mills we’re sourcing from.
The design brief for the Hardscrabble jacket went like this: throw it on to get to work, wear it for a tram lap at lunch, and wear it again out to dinner. That’s what we mean by product you can live in. The Basis shirt is another example. It’s made out of a wool-poly blend Polartec Power Dry and it has the feeling of a traditional men’s flannel shirt, but it acts as a technical baselayer. You can wear it to the office, but layer it up and be skiing with it in the afternoon. I’ll live in it. —Olivia Dwyer
Visit stio.com to see more of the new gear and sign up for a catalog.