- Who is Jelt Belt and how long have you guys been in business?
I launched the company in February 2014, out of my super quaint office in downtown Bozeman, Montana. I always knew I wanted to be an inventor. I knew I needed a belt to keep my crack from showing, but I refused to wear traditional leather belts. I believed that if I had this problem, other people did, too.
I remembered the groovy elastic belts I wore in the 70’s and 80’s with the stripes and the gold, interlocking buckle and I decided to reinvent that type of belt with modern technology. Jelts have a low-profile buckle, a grippy inner gel and are made out of recycled water bottles. There are no metal parts, so if TSA doesn’t see your Jelt, you can wear it through the metal detectors! (I was tired of stripping in the airport security line.)
- Where did the idea to build a business around belts come from?
I created the Jelt belt out of pure necessity. As a frazzled working mom, I discovered a need for a functional belt to keep my skinny jeans from sagging and my kids from cringing. I also live at the base of the Rocky Mountains, so naturally I have a passion for the outdoors, which made it easy for Jelt to evolve from being a comfortable, flat belt to wear with jeans to the perfect belt for hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, traveling and everyday fashion.
- In what ways are Jelt Belts environmentally responsible? Are materials sustainably sourced?
I wanted to make sure Jelt would stand out from any other belt on the market. Not only is it modern-retro, with a nod to 80’s fashion, but it is also made from 100% recycled water bottles, has a patent-pending buckle design that won’t show a bulge under fitted shirts and an inner gel that grips to pants, whether you have belt loops or not. The packaging is made from 100% recycled cardboard, which very few companies do because, like most environmentally products, it’s more expensive.
- We see that manufacturing is being moved from China back to Montana?! What was the motive behind this and what does that journey look like for your company?
As of late 2016, we made a heart-felt decision to move our manufacturing from China to our home state of Montana. The Jelt Extreme launched in December as our first belt to be manufactured in Montana.
I have a personal commitment to giving back to our communities and strive to help people live a more productive life. That’s why we chose to work with the Montana Correctional Enterprise (MCE) Program at the Montana Women’s Prison. This privileged program guides incarcerated women through an application and interview process, which is required for program participation. These women develop a strong work ethic, new job skills and grow their confidence, which will make them a more marketable employee in the future. The money they earn goes toward their restitution, child support, and finally, into a savings account for use when they are released.
- So, $1 for every belt sold goes to organizations supporting wounded veterans, tell us about that partnership and what the inspiration behind giving to this specific cause is.
The best part of the Jelt brand is that we are both environmentally and socially responsible. We give money to a ton of local charities who provide services to people who are in the most need. We donate a large portion of our profits to organizations who support veterans, youth and families. When you buy a belt, Jelt will donate $1 to Warriors and Quiet Waters, an organization that takes combat-wounded veterans fly fishing as a means of rehabilitation. But, that’s just the beginning, we also donate to Thrive, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, 4-H, the YMCA and to the Bozeman Schools Foundation. I am interested in giving to charities that service children and their families. They are the core and backbone of any community. If there is a non-profit in Bozeman that we don’t donate to, it’s because they haven’t hit us up yet. (I will be bombarded if you print this, but, oh well!)6. What activities do you recommend we use a Jelt Belt for?
Jelt is the ideal crossover lifestyle belt, which means it can be worn with anything. It’s an active belt for hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding and golf. Yet, it’s perfect for everyday jeans. Some of my female customers wear their Jelts “Retro-style” with a skater dress or “Zen style” to keep their yoga pants up.
7. What are some of the teams’ favorite belts? Favorite feature of the Belt?
We are a hodgepodge group who all have their favorite Jelt depending on the season or their mood. People can’t help but dig the American Retro Jelt, but our top seller is the Black Granite. ( My VP, Amanda, wanted to chime in that her favorite Jelt is Glacier all year round!! )
8. Digging those Trucker Hats! Are they environmentally friendly as well?!
Oh, yeah! We get those from an artist out of Washington. She accesses trucker hats that are surplus, then hand prints her custom-designed wood block print of our logo onto each hat. The hats are as unique as our company and, like a snowflake, no two hats are alike.
- Besides created a super cool, eco friendly belt, what makes Jelt Belt a great company to work for?
Well, I’m so glad you asked. Not to toot my own horn, but if I must— I was honored to receive the 2017 Employer of the Year Award given to me by the Business Professional Women of Montana. This verified my hard work and dedication to my wonderful Bozeman community and to my commitment to give back to society as a whole. However, since I’m the boss, I probably can’t answer that question without bias, so here’s a quote from, yet again, my VP, Amanda Schultz:
“I love working at Jelt because the of the amazing Jelt team, company culture and beautiful office in downtown Bozeman! It’s a treat working for a company with so much passion for the product, the purpose and the cause. I dig that our company values building a strong community and being socially conscious. An added benefit is Jelt has kept my pants up since 2015!”
My social media and PR director, Jessica Minalga, also “loves the connection Jelt has with the Bozeman community and how the company constantly celebrates the beautiful state we live in and the social and and environmental efforts happening within our local town.” Working for a startup that gives back and helping the brand grow has been very rewarding for her as well.
- Any big plans for Jelt Belt for 2017 that you can let us in on?
Well—I’m so glad you asked—
Our world famous Dark Denim Jelt is being manufactured at the Women’s Correctional Facility right this minute and will be available on our website around the 15th of April! Whoop whoop!
As far as other “plans”, they are currently top secret, so if I told you, I’d have to kill you, and that’s not my style.