Voormi, a Pagosa Springs-based manufacturer of technical wool outdoor clothing and gear, won the 2013 Something Independent Wright Award for entrepreneurship last night at a pre-launch event hosted by Session Kitchen.
"This is about the best treat I could have, to be here in a roomful of entrepreneurs creating something around a spirit that is Colorado," said Governor John Hickenlooper, introducing the event before fourteen contenders presented ninety-second videos telling the stories of their companies.
"When I'm in a room full of entrepreneurs, I get lustful," he continued, recalling the early days of raising capital and launching the Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988.
Timm Smith, Voormi's brand marketing director, told Westword that the $6,000 award will help boost the brand in its inaugural winter season but that the real prize was earning the recognition of so many Colorado peers at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce.
"What was wild about tonight, and almost unexpected, is that you see all these companies and what they do -- and the passion that they have and the amazing stories that they have -- and as you're watching the videos you're thinking to yourself, 'what an amazing bunch of folks,'" Smith said. "To even be here among them, much less win, is awesome."
Voormi sources all of its wool in Colorado and all of its other materials -- including zippers and raw rubber -- in the United States, and manufactures in Pagosa Springs. Smith compared Voormi's business model to the small-batch microbrewery concept, a nod to both Hickenlooper and the local industry he helped build.
The other finalists for the prize were Denver-based sunglass and ski goggle manufacturer Optic Nerve and Denver-based fishing gear and outdoor clothing brands Fishpond/Lilypond. Other nominees for the award included Badfish SUP, Boa Technology, Colorado Malting Company, Jiberish, Kota Longboards, Loki USA, Panda Bicycles, Peach Street Distillers, Silverton Mountain, Topo Designs, and Viktorian Guitars.
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