ROAM, a new backpack and apparel company started by two long-term Summit County residents, had its inception in the Colorado mountains, its development on the shores of Alaska, its birth in Bali, Indonesia.
Sammy Steen and Mike Delaney both moved to Breckenridge in 2004. Steen, from South Dakota, and Delaney, from Colorado Springs, both had the same idea - get to the mountains and enjoy the snow.
While they regularly hit the slopes, the two friends started to spend their extra time talking about plans to start a business making backpacks. In 2012, with a particularly poor snow season, they took action. They set up a workshop in an extra room in Delaney's house and sewed their first creations by hand, re-using parts from old clothing and backpacks to make something new. These they handed out to friends.
When the snow went and summer came, Steen and Delaney skipped over to Alaska, where both earned money working for the commercial salmon fishing industry. This allowed them not only to make the capital needed to start their venture, but gave them more time to discuss their business plan, including what exactly they wanted to manufacture and which type of customer to target.
"Travel integration was a focal point," said Delaney. "We were always striving to make intuitive designs for the modern-day traveler - people on the move, people like us."
Both travel enthusiasts, Delaney and Steen decided that the best place to manufacture their equipment was overseas.
"Through past travel experiences, we knew that Bali was a place where manufacturing was happening," Steen said.
Once the Alaska job was over, the enterprising duo traveled to Indonesia, where they rode motorcycles from island to island, seeking out individual tailors and craftsmen who could help make their vision a reality.
"We wanted the other side of the business, what we're actually manufacturing, to be part of the journey, not just the destination," Steen said. "To have an amazing cultural experience and to learn about a new part of the world was pretty cool."
Eventually the two found a tailor they could work with. Having spent time sewing and making the gear themselves, Steen and Delaney were able to communicate exactly what they wanted to their contact. The first man made backpacks and laptop bags. He then connected them with someone who could make jackets, then hats.
"It was really neat how it unfolded like that," Steen said. "It was on a really personal level, not just talking to the boss but being in the workshop with them."
Currently, Steen and Delaney are based in Denver, where their warehouse is, although Steen said he misses being in the mountains. They also recently launched their website www.thisiswhereiROAM.com and are focusing on developing social media. They don't have a permanent store location, in either Denver or Summit County, but are encouraging people to buy online and are also planning some trunk shows in the future, both around and outside of Denver, to show off their products.
Steen said they are excited to continue to grow their company and plan to continue making trips out to Bali to keep a close connection with the manufacturing process.
"It's going to be fun to perpetuate it for the future," Steen said. "It will be a fun life cycle."