COBA’s mission is to unite business leaders from across Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy and emerging industries to conserve and protect access to our public lands. Learn more about this month’s featured COBA member!

Featured COBA Member

Stu Swineford, Relish Studio

stu swineford boulderingThough he started his marketing career in copywriting and advertisement, Stu has performed virtually every role in the digital marketing production lifecycle – from strategy and concepting, to design and development, to QA/QC and everything in between. These days, Stu focuses on purposeful, conversion-focused digital marketing strategy and execution.

When he’s not helping entrepreneurs and executive-level professionals, Stu can be found traipsing around the woods near the cabin in which he has lived with his wife and menagerie of pets since 1993.

If you’re interested in pulling him out of the woods, please send an email his way (stuart@relishstudio.com) or give him a call (303.807.5648).

Featured Interview Answers -Stu Swineford, Relish Studio

What do you like to do outside? If you play outside, how did you get introduced to outdoor recreation?
I try to spend as much time outdoors as I can. At my core, I’m a distance runner though I have been trying to do a better job of mixing in a bunch of activities that are also dear to my heart. I also ride, ski (mostly Nordic, these days), climb, hike, camp, and ride my moto to many of these activities. My family was always active outdoors and I started skiing at the age of 3. We were constantly hiking and camping and I loved to climb anything (much to my parents’ chagrin) so rock climbed early on as well.

What do Colorado’s public lands mean to you, and why is it important to you to protect them?
I have been drawn to Colorado most of my life. We vacationed here when I was a kid and finally got to move to Gunnison when I was 16. I’ve been here ever since. Colorado’s wilderness spaces have always been at the top of the list of the things that make Colorado special. The amount of access granted to the public is phenomenal and recent moves to try to privatize and limit that access is disheartening. Protecting and expanding access to our public spaces, while simultaneously preserving their beauty is paramount. We have one chance to protect these lands for this generation and beyond. I am a huge proponent of doing so. Once access is denied and development occurs, we will never be able to recoup what is lost.

Tell us about a specific place or time when an outdoor experience had an impact on your professional life or personal outlook.
I had the good fortune to be fit enough to run the Four Pass loop a few years ago and that is truly one of the most glorious places I have ever encountered. Remote, wild, beautiful. Waking up and seeing the sun rise on the Maroon Bells then circumnavigating it that day was an experience I recommend to anyone seeking to explore Colorado’s high country. I also have the fortune to live in close proximity to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Scaling these mountains is another experience that has framed my outlook. Preservation of these fantastic, unique areas has become one if my personal objectives and we have included these types of activities (preservation) into the fabric of our business at Relish Studio. We have formalized our giving back to make sure that Colorado retains its position as one of the best places to live. Open and wild spaces are part of what attracted the Relish team to the state and their preservation allows us to interact and engage with like-minded clients and talent.

Why is now an important time to speak up as a member of the business community?
As business owners, we have a unique opportunity to influence policy. Just the other day, I called both my senators and made a point of mentioning that I am a small business owner AND a constituent. In each case, my reference to being a business owner was commented upon specifically. If you listen closely to political speeches, you will hear politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about the importance of supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. This gives us a great “in” to have our individual voices to be amplified. As a collaborative organization, we really can start to make our collective voice heard.

How does showing leadership on the values you care about support the success of your business and brand? What call to action would you give to others in the business community?
Though we aren’t an “outdoor business”, we do value our environment, natural spaces, and wilderness and recreate there frequently. Having taken an active role in COBA and 1% for the Planet enables us to formalize our involvement in supporting environmental and preservation causes and show that we don’t take this lightly. When shopping, I certainly look for others with similar values and I can’t imagine I am the only person out there who does this. So being a part of COBA presents Relish Studio as a forward-thinking, environmental champion and that attracts like-minded individuals with whom we get along really well due to our shared value systems. And who doesn’t enjoy doing work with people with whom you share a common interest and goal? I would encourage others to get active, join COBA, weave your own personal ethos into your business culture, and help be a part of the solution!

What exciting updates for 2017 would you like to share from the world of Relish Studio?
For 2017, we are really working to transform our business to one that is not only profitable but whose profits are directed toward something greater than just a paycheck. That’s why we have formalized our involvement with COBA and are getting more and more active in the community. More to come in 2018 and beyond!

Previous Featured Member: Peter Downing, Suffer Better

Peter Downing, Suffer Better

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Through experiences ranging from a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa to an educator to a practicing attorney to an ultra-distance runner to a marketing professional to an entrepreneur, Peter has forged a unique perspective and a quiver of potent tools to advance his clients’ business, reputation, image, and profitability.

Some of Peter’s specialties include: Creative marketing solutions and collateral, Strategic CSR and community engagement planning and implementation, High octane branding, Innovative presentations and events, Meaningful relationship building, and Effective communications.

To learn more about Peter and Suffer Better, check out his website!

What do you like to do outside? How did you get introduced to outdoor recreation?
I like to do about anything outside, but mostly these days my outdoor days are filled with trail running and fly fishing. My dad took me and my 2 brothers fly fishing when I was 11. We camped out in the spectacular Flattops Wilderness Area (wasn’t even a wilderness area back then) for a week of camping and fishing. It was simply glorious. We continued to go back and as I got older I started to run the trails there- never saw a soul. We’ve gone back to this same spot now for over 40 years. It’s hardly changed and is as spectacular as ever.


What do Colorado’s public lands mean to you, and why is it important to you to protect them?
Our public lands ensure that there are places that remain untouched, where wildlife and rivers run free and natural beauty is preserved. Of course, I love just knowing that they are there, pure and simple, but also as a place to go and be away from it all. It’s nice to know that there are places where our giant footprint hasn’t left its mark. There are so many reasons to protect and preserve them – now and into the future: Preserving wildlife and wilderness, ensuring biodiversity and healthy forests, home to clean air and water – the list goes on.

Tell us about a specific place or time when an outdoor experience had an impact on your professional life or personal outlook.
There are many of those, including that very first camp out with my dad. More recently, my Suffer Better Co-founder, Bob Africa, and I ran the Grand Canyon together – over and back. I have never been to a place so awe-inspiring and where I felt so small and insignificant. It is a magnificent and magical place and I can’t imagine the loss if a place like that were to be open to even more development. It is also where we were truly struck by how lucky we are to both be able to do what we do and to have access to places like that. That helped us form a critical part of Suffer Better – the importance of giving back.

Why is now an important time to speak up as a member of the business community?
There is more pressure now than ever on our public lands – the wish to privatize them, mine them, develop them, exploit them, etc. As businesses, especially those who thrive in the outdoor and recreation industry, we have a responsibility to protect these places. And certainly not just for us, but for our kids and theirs…..Our collective voices can – must – help make a difference. If we stand up – together – we’ll be heard.

How does showing leadership on the values you care about support the success of your business and brand? What call to action would you give to others in the business community?
Our tagline for Suffer Better is “give your all and give back” and we believe you should give your all in what you do – not just in training and racing, but in living and working too. That commitment should apply to how we hold ourselves out as a business, committing fully to protect what we believe in and to give back to those in need. We have to walk the talk and live the word, as our community likes to say. We ask our community to “fly the flag” and share that commitment and we must do the same in how we operate.

What exciting updates for 2017 would you like to share from the world of Suffer Better?
We have lots of good things coming for 2017: Our first trail race (in September), new products for our community, new partnerships with like-minded companies, new sponsorships of events and a whole new group of impactful nonprofits to which to donate.

Previous Featured Member: Merrill Lynch; Kate Stephenson

Kate-Stephenson

Kate Stephenson, Merrill Lynch

Kate Stephenson works with small business owners and executives to increase market awareness and business profitability. Additionally, Kate focuses on Impact Investing – investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention of generating measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial return. In other words, Kate’s merges investment strategies with clients’ personal philosophies in order to establish a seamless integration between their values and their investments.

To learn more, about Kate visit her Merrill Lynch profile.

What do you like to do outside? How did you get introduced to outdoor recreation?
-Growing up on family trips exploring the West
-Dad a geologist
-I love being in the mountains and close proximity to nature. Growing up, my dad was a geologist, and we spent family trips exploring the West I saw that Denver really allowed the best of both worlds – city life coupled with access to the wilderness and outdoor activities.

What do Colorado’s public lands mean to you, and why is it important to you to protect them?
-Many of my roles and previous career were in the outdoor space. I saw the beauty of being able to interact with the outdoors through business, but I also saw a lot of waste and misuse.
-Public lands are the foundation to the economy here in Colorado. For the same reason that I moved here, I believe it is a catalyst for many individuals to relocate to Colorado. If these lands are misused or not conserved, the infrastructure that makes Colorado great and a desired place to live will dissipate.

Tell us about a specific place or time when an outdoor experience had an impact on your professional life or personal outlook.
-When I first moved to Colorado, I worked and lived in Breckenridge for a season. I had the opportunity to be outside daily as part of my job. It changed my outlook on how the outdoors influenced my career choices.

Why is now an important time to speak up as a member of the business community?
-It’s a matter of being authentic. I have been in roles prior — specifically marketing — where I was working for or towards something that I did not value at the end of the day. I want my work and life to have an impact on the things that I find of value and I believe that brings authenticity.
-I think every and any time is an important moment to share one’s voice. Right now there is a lot of voices and opinions being broadcast and sometimes the loudest one wins.

How does showing leadership on the values you care about support the success of your business and brand? What call to action would you give to others in the business community?
-I wanted to put my actions where my thoughts and beliefs are. People can get behind authenticity.
-Colorado’s state legislature is in session from January through May. Now is the time to get involved. Your voice can make a difference. Join COBA, make phone calls, attend hearings. In short, be activists and make your voice heard. Our legislators are accessible, and for the next 5 months, they’ll be making policy decisions that affect Coloradans and Colorado businesses in crucial ways.

What exciting updates for 2017 would you like to share from the world of Merrill Lynch?
-Under the new administration and Congress, we’re likely to see numerous attacks on our public lands over the coming four years. Those attacks at the national level will likely encourage similar activity at the state level. But Coloradans have repeatedly expressed their overwhelming support for public lands and conservation values. A COBA poll from October demonstrated that the vast majority of Colorado’s business community believes public lands are an asset to the state’s economy.

Previous Featured Member: Fourpoints Bar; Kevin & Patrick Webber

Kevin & Patrick Webber, Fourpoints Bar

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Fourpoints Real Food Energy Bar was started by brothers Kevin Webber and Patrick Webber, and friend Steve Shenfish. All three are 2nd generation Colorado natives and avid outdoor enthusiasts. They brought together backgrounds in fitness, nutrition, and culinary arts to develop a true energy bar unlike any other in that fuels you when you need it the most.

More information can be found at www.fourpointsbar.com

What do you like to do outside?
If you play outside, how did you get introduced to outdoor recreation? As Colorado natives growing up in Evergreen, an after school mountain bike, or hike was the norm. Our father was our boy scout troop leader growing up. He not only introduced us to mountaineering, hiking, camping, etc..but taught us the principles of outdoor ethics and environmental stewardship. Our outdoor passions include skiing, mountaineering, backpacking, camping, biking and golf. Any excuse really to be outside, but the mountains are our Valhalla!

What do Colorado’s public lands mean to you, and why is it important to you to protect them?
As the world becomes a smaller place, we crave Colorado’s wide open spaces and have an obligation to protect them so that they may be enjoyed now and by future generations. They are what makes Colorado…Colorado, therefore, worth fighting for.

Tell us about a specific place or time when an outdoor experience had an impact on your professional life or personal outlook.
There are so many, it’s hard to choose just one. Growing up in the mountains teaches you so much on so many different levels, nature has a way of humbling you. I (Patrick) was able to introduce my wife to backpacking for a week on the Colorado trail last summer…that was a life changer for her and us as a couple. You can discover so much about yourself, your partner, and your environment when stripped down to the bare essentials in the wild. As it pertains to business however, high altitude pursuits fueled the need and design of our flagship product (Fourpoints bar) by solving a problem of nutritional demands for the athletic endeavors of mountain sports.

Why is now an important time to speak up as a member of the business community?
In the current climate, everything is becoming more accessible. Social media, technology, interstate migration and population influx all contribute to more people using the lands. It is imperative we take the time to share the importance of outdoor ethics and environmental stewardship. Now more than ever, do we need to protect these lands and ensure its future health. As a business, we have a unique platform to get that message out.

How does showing leadership on the values you care about support the success of your business and brand? What call to action would you give to others in the business community?
Our greatest form of success will come when people look at Fourpoints bars as not only a great product, but a dedicated company and brand that pays it forward, supports individual dreams and aspirations while exercising values that protect our lands, environment, and our way of life here in Colorado. As a Colorado based outdoor company, we believe it is our duty and privilege to be good stewards of our beautiful backyard, and to use that platform to not only educate users, but protect and preserve these lands for present and future generations…we encourage like minded businesses to do the same.

What exciting updates for 2017 would you like to share from the world of Fourpoints Bar?
Fourpoints was just featured in February’s issue of SKI Magazine. We recently launched a partnership with ink! Coffee (another great Colorado grown brand). On the horizon in April is a featured spot in Backpacker Magazine’s Annual Gear Issue and launch in Colorado REI locations.

Interested in being featured? Contact Gabe Kiritz, gabe@conservationco.org.