Jumping Off Cliffs and Into Business – Julian Carr loves doing flips off of 200-foot cliffs before he lands in deep snow and skis the mountain. He is also fascinated by the concept of discrete principles – a term used to denote something “separate and not connected to anything, individually distinct.” Knowing that his body wouldn’t put up with being a professional extreme skier forever, he started thinking about how else he could make his mark in the ski industry. In the name of concepts he was learning at the University of Utah, he came up with the brand “Discrete” and began putting it on all kinds of headwear. Supplying Utah’s best athletes (skiers and snowboarders) gave Discrete legitimate exposure and presence in the vibrant Utah ski culture and It soon became the “cool” brand. Recognizing an opportunity to capitalize on the brand awareness, Julian switched gears and started pursuing Discrete as a serious business.
Discrete has 20 styles of headwear and is starting a line of T-shirts. Julian’s line of hats are available at Backcountry.com, Sports Den, Lift House, Milosport, Ski N See, Cliff Sports, Deep Powder House, Peruvian, Raunch Records, SLCitizen at the downtown Salt Lake Library, Legacy Sports in Park City, Park Sportsman and B.O.P. in Provo.
In January 2008, Discrete attended its first tradeshow at the Snowsports Industries of America. The initial goal was to achieve $20,000 in sales the first year. Much to their delight, gross sales reached $50,000 and held steady through 2009. By 2009, the company had individual sales reps in eight states and needed working capital to produce inventory for the fall 2009 delivery season. Even though Julian’s business was booming, he knew that getting a bank loan would be tough. So he approached Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, which specializes in lending to start-up businesses with few employees and limited capital. According to Julian, “The UMLF made a huge impact on Discrete. They sat down and listened to our idea, saw our product, and believed in us, rather than just looking at us as only a dollar sign.” In the summer of 2009, Discrete received a $25,000 UMLF loan to use for local sewers, online wholesalers, organizing individual shop orders and shipping. By 2010, sales soared by over 100% over the prior year.
Writing emails and doing business from the chairlifts has allowed Julian to balance being an entrepreneur with doing things like setting a world record for front flipping a 210 foot cliff. He has appeared in countless ski magazines and films and is quite known for his poetry. As stated on the website, “Discrete the company embodies separation from the pack. We are unique; a concept and style that follows no trends, opens the door to individual perception and keeps a steady pulse on simplicity.”
At the heart of our community are small businesses like Discrete and organizations like Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund. Like Julian, UMLF borrowers have proven that great things can be accomplished with a modest loan. With an average loan size of $15,068, UMLF has made over 910 loans which represent an injection of over $13.6 million into the small business sector of our economy. This has resulted in the creation/retention of over 1,800 jobs.
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