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These entrepreneurs are bringing innovation to Colorado's outdoor industry

The Wright Retrospective showcases the earliest inspirations and product iterations from some of the biggest names in the industry


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Just ten blocks from where the world’s outdoor industry gathers at the Colorado Convention Center for the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, The Wright, a program of outdoor organization Something Independent, is celebrating the Colorado innovators and entrepreneurs that are leading the outdoor industry forward. 

The Wright is celebrating this through an exhibit, called The Wright Retrospective, which showcases the earliest inspirations and product iterations from some of the biggest names in the industry. The Retrospective is about “the idea of entrepreneurs as artists,” says Chuck Sullivan, co-founder of Something Independent, adding that entrepreneurs in the outdoor industry have an “economic and cultural impact on communities, big and small.”

The Retrospective features a number of companies who have been Wright Award Contenders over the past decade. The Wright Awards take place each year at The Wright Summit, which showcases companies and individuals in the Rocky Mountain Region (though primarily Colorado) that are contributing to both their communities and the larger outdoor industries. Past winners include Alpacka Raft, Yeti Cycles, Cotopaxi, The Hot Tomato and more.

“Rather than hanging artwork, we are hanging actual products,” says Nathan Fey, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and a member of The Wright’s advisory board. “Creativity is often fueled by the outdoors and seeing these pieces hung as artwork provides inspiration born out of true authenticity.”

Those featured in the exhibit include early iterations of designs from Oveja Negra, Icelantic Skis, Alpacka Raft, Topo Designs, Flylow, Bonsai Design, The Infinite Monkey, Loki Gear, Yeti Cycles, Oskar Blues and more. The message of the exhibit is that innovation can strike anywhere and everywhere and the outdoors are very inspirational. 

“Countless outdoor recreation innovations are directly inspired by outdoor recreation participation. These innovations fuel enhanced performance, protection and function, and are frequently advanced by the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit that reimagines the status quo and seeks an alternative or superior solution,” Fey says. “The outdoor recreation industry is the ideal petri dish for true hands-on innovation.”  

While the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show is only open to members of the outdoor industry, The Wright Retrospective aims to give the Denver community an insight into the industry and its accomplishments.

“Inside the convention center, it's a lot of brand-focused business that’s taking place and the Wright is a broader reflection of what the outdoor industry is, what it can look like and its outside impact, from distilling and brewing to ag and all these different things,” Sullivan says. 

The Wright Retrospective is a free exhibit open Tuesday, Jan 28 to Saturday, Feb. 1 at Dairy Block (1821 Blake Street). Register here

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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