#SWAAYthenarrative

Meet Jelt Belt: An Accessories Business That Gives Back

Business

Like many entrepreneurs, Jennifer Perry started her company Jelt Belt out of pure necessity, which, in Jen's case was the need for a belt that had a grip to keep her expensive jeans from "showing her crack". Jen thought about the concept for years and recalled the elastic rainbow belts with a buckle that she wore as a kid in the '80's and thought, "where do those exist [now]? I need something like that." So as years passed, Jen decided to go for it, "I thought about it for years and thought, I'm going to do it and I'm going to make it amazing. I'm going to make it super strong and use recycled materials so I'm not contributing to landfill and I'm going to make it really user-friendly for jeans or ski pants or golf shorts or mountain bike shorts."


So in 2014 in a small Rocky Mountain town Jelt Belt, short for "Jen's Belt", was started. Jen's belt is a 100% recyclable belt that uses yarn that is created by the melting of water bottles, is metal free, has an inner gel that provides a grip for the pants – belt loop or not, and perhaps the most notable aspect of Jen's company is her devotion to giving back.

Today, Jelt Belt is a company of 5 employees and Jen describes her company's mission as "working to make a difference, enhancing lives with responsible and sustainable fashion, never being too serious, always ready for a good time" or, to put it simply – Jelting. Jelting is a term Jen trademarked to not only refer to wearing the stylish, grippy, comfortable belts but about living life to the fullest and caring and giving back for the planet and those who protect our freedom.

So in true #Jelting fashion, each year, Jen chooses an organization that supports combat-wounded veterans to donate $1 of every belt sold to (each belt averages $30 at retail). Currently, that organization is Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to healing America's injured veterans through fly-fishing in the serene waters of Montana.

In addition to donating to organizations that support American heroes, Jen has also focused her manufacturing efforts to giving back to her local community through her partnership with the Montana Correctional Enterprise (MCE) Program at the Montana Women's Prison. Last year, Jen decided to move her manufacturing for all new belt lines from China to Montana where incarcerated women can apply and interview to work to produce and manufacture Jelt Belts and ultimately develop a strong work ethic, confidence and responsibility – all traits that are typically diminished during an incarceration period.

Jen's commitment to sustainable, charitable products already make her distinctive but what really separates Jen from her competitors is that, unlike other active accessories companies, Jen is not a former male pro-skier or snowboarder. Rather, she is a devoted mom that started a successful, self-funded company that doubles as a charitable platform in a male dominated industry, all from the small town of Bozeman, Montana. But regardless, the entrepreneur sticks to her core values and does so with the most charming demeanor.

Still, being a generous female business owner based out of a small town in Montana was not something Jen referred to as a big business challenge, rather, she says that since her brand makes a belt for anyone and everyone, being so inclusive has proven to be challenging. Since the brand makes belts for all sizes, ages, activities, styles of pants and at an affordable price, Jen notes that "The challenge is how do we narrow it down, how do we figure out, what is our niche?"

While Jelt Belt's inclusivity may pose questions regarding marketing tactics, it has not had an effect at retail, the brand is sold in 20 stores within the U.S., one store in the Phillipines and on sites such as Amazon and Grommet in addition to Jelt Belt.com.

When asked about the future of Jelt Belt, Jen explains that she plans to continue producing the classic Jelt Belt collection on a demand basis and then plans to introduce an additional new collection – like Jelt Extreme - each year.

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

Privy and Vivino

2. Briefly describe your morning routine.

Monday Wednesday Friday tennis in the morning or skiing in the mornings.

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

Tory Burch

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

Apple computer

5. What is your spirit animal?

Grizzly Bear

6. What is your life motto?

If not now, when?

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

Expired stuff in the fridge, Snyder's Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks

8. Every entrepreneur must be Confident to be successful.

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

Africa

10. Deserted Island. Three things, go.

Best friend Stacie, unlimited supply of wine, 2 fishing rods.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.