It would be my guess that you’ve probably seen the brand ▴STΛTIC somewhere out there in the climbing world.
Their super cute, boutique chalk bags and duffles, flaunting fun patterns from Star Wars prints to classic Pendleton fabrics, can be seen adorning some of the pro climbers we ogle on social media or hanging in our local climbing gyms. While the company’s notoriety is growing, the woman responsible for it all, Taylor Carpenter, is definitely someone worth getting to know.
Taylor has always been, or at least as far back as she can recall, an all or nothing kind of person. Through family camping trips, fishing, skiing/snowboarding, she was taught, early on, to get the full value out of what the world has to offer. “I was never allowed to play video games. If I was bored I was told to go kick a ball around or climb a tree.” Raised by a family of doers, she started gymnastics as a young girl, soon moving onto soccer, playing all the way through her first two years of college when she realized she’d grown out of the sport. Fueled by the love of her weekend hobby, snowboarding, she set out to change her surroundings and moved to Mammoth Mountain, while maintaining her studies and commuting weekly back to Cal State Long Beach. “I’d always loved snowboarding, but when I moved to the mountains, I started getting pretty decent at it from riding every day.” Discovering her connection and capability, Taylor joined her college snowboarding team. “ I never wanted to try to go pro, but I really wanted to win the overall title for women’s division for our region.” With her goal in mind, she spent all of her time living on the mountain, working as a server, doing her coursework online and training. The first year of competition, Taylor almost nailed it and then the next year she was right where she wanted to be. She was flown to the east coast for the final wave of competition. While out practicing on the unfamiliar mountain’s slope-style course, she overshot a jump and broke her back. She was rushed to the ER. Three broken vertebras were found in her lower back but no soft tissue damage. She was put in brace immediately and prescribed bed rest to start. “When I broke my back, there were three whole weeks until the final heat. I was still in first place, there was just one competition left and it was giant slalom. I was so many points ahead. All I had to do was just make it through the flags and finish. I could practically slide down with someone holding my hand, I just had to complete the course. Everyone told me, ‘No, absolutely not’. But my best friend, Jenny, said she’d follow me down and that’s all I needed.” When the day finally came, accompanied by Jenny and the ski patrol on high alert, ready to step in, in her TSLO brace with 3 fractured/crushed vertebras she crept down the slope, made it through the flags, and won her overall title.
Okay. That’s absurd, right? Yeah, I know. More like the plot of an after school movie than reality, but that’s her story.
Recovered, and graduated, with her back healed and almost functioning at 100%, Taylor skipped out on the last few sessions of therapy and jetted off for 6 months of snowboarding and bartending in Australia. Once finally back home and hit with a terribly bare snow season, her and her circle started looking to the rocks. They had casually begun climbing a little during the off seasons, but while rehabbing she found climbing felt great on her back and started developing a kinship for the pastime. With the Eastern Sierras at their disposal they were all seduced by climbing quickly. Climbing took over, they traveled all around the area, from Mammoth to the Buttermilks. Down climbing in the Happys one day, Taylor hopped down and all the abuse from her former life snapped into one and her meniscus flipped, sending her strait into the ER and then into knee surgery.
In the classic tune of not getting what you want, but getting what you need, Taylor’s long 9 months of recovery time forced her to take a look at long term plan and ask, what do you want to do with your life? In a pool of injured sorrow, Taylor left the mountains and went hobbling around at Coachella’s Vestal Village for a break and was introduced to Duncan, her now boyfriend of 4 years (and damn near cofounder). They fell for each other fast and hard, Taylor moved south from Mammoth to San Diego so they could spend more time together. “Duncan works creating motion graphics, and as a result, has made friendships with some of the most incredible olympic athletes, world renowned photographers, just the most inspiring people and I was meeting all of these people and getting so tired of hearing myself explaining that, well, I’m a server, but I’m going to do something one day and finally had enough and decided, it’s time to do something.” Bathed in creative energy from her significant other and their peers, she was talking about wanting a new direction with her Reiki therapist and in response her therapist asker her two questions:
1 What makes you happy?
2 What can you do in that world?
The answer to the first question was climbing. She’d fallen in love with the sport, the community, everything about it made her smile. Then to #2, “Well, chalk bags are alright, but they would be even better if they had a personal touch to them, so I thought maybe I could probably learn how to make a chalk bag..”
With her fire lit, Taylor ran home, Youtube’d “How to Sew”, and with a little sewing machine her grandparents had gotten her, she sewed her first chalk bag. It took her 3 days, and it was a hot mess, but she was over the moon. She brought it in to her gym and showed everyone her new project. The manager said, “Cool! Well, if you can make those a little better, I’ll throw a couple in the shop”. “Someone wanted my art! I was so excited, I’d never considered myself an artist before, I don’t do art, but look at what I did! And someone likes it! And wants it!” Stocked up on fabric, a goal was set to make one a day. With a couple of chalk bags finished, she set up an Etsy for fun, seeing if she could figure out how to make one work, and soon after she got her very first sale. Delighted, she started full production mode, pumping out as many as she could during her free time, burning webbing on her stove, covering the house in fabric scraps. “Once they started looking pretty good I brought a few into the gym again, and gave them to the setters and asked them to tell me what was wrong with them, give me all of the negatives. And slowly but surely all of the setters started giving me tons feedback that helped me hone the bag’s design. After that Duncan created a logo for me and said ‘There, now you have a company’.”
Soon she had her bags selling in 2 local gyms and doing well online. “It was just snowballing, I was still serving, but working almost 100 hours a week on STATIC. Waking up at 6 to sew to make sure I could finish 1 a day, and it was taking me hours to finish a chalk bag. Really, I was learning how to sew as I was growing the company.” With about an order a day at the heaviest she could just manage, but when November hit, she was getting upwards to 6 a day, then December crept in, with its daunting 15 orders a day. With more orders than time, she hired her first employee, Katie. “It was more than I could handle, I would cry at the sewing machine, Duncan took time off work to help me cut fabric, fleece was everywhere! Even my roommates banded together to help out when I eventually melted down. But slowly we started streamlining it. And it was getting manageable, and 15 bags a day was hard, but we could do it.”
In the wake of her first, and successful, holiday season, she started working on getting more gyms, moving the thread and fabric out of the living room and finding a room to contain STATIC.
After outgrowing 2 different home offices over the course of the next year, having products in 15 or so gyms, and sales on a steady rise STATIC needed to get out of the house and into a space. “Duncan is my only investor, he bought me my first nice real sewing machine after breaking a Joann’s machine every 90 days, he was my pro-bono designer, built all of my signage and I was being rude to him. He’d be at home working on other projects, and I’d yell down the hall asking for my things to get finished, I was struggling learning how to be a professional, and when your boyfriend is your designer, it blurs the lines even more. I needed to get STATIC out of our home” Serendipitously, while dropping off an order of bags to The Wall, Taylor found out about a warehouse space they had available at the gym. The price fit her budget and so she agreed and moved the company in, pronto.
Finally working with a professional seamstress as an employee, in a professional space, Static could buckle down. At the same time, the restaurant she worked at caught fire. The employees were given a small pay check while the building was repaired for the next 6 months, but Taylor finally had her chance to put her nose to the grindstone and give her company everything she had and as a result, STATIC began to flourish. 6 months later, Taylor returned to serving briefly after the restaurant was remodeled but her break taught her that Static needed her full attention and that she needed to go all in and believe in it. “I only spent 5 months back at the restaurant, but I would work at STATIC’s office from 8-4, then throw my work clothes on in the car and serve until 10, then wake up and do it all again.— I was running myself so ragged, I was getting sick all the time, my emotions were all over the place, but I was so proud of the company growing and didn’t have ability to have employees yet. I had my one seamstress Elise working 2 days a week for a few hours, and she loved working here and taught me so much, I had Duncan working with me for free. So when I finally cut free from serving and devoted myself to STATIC 110%, I finally gave it what it needed, it finally had a chance, and it grew exponentially. And a year later now I can say it’s made it.”
The company she started out with, getting an order a day and taking painstaking hours being fulfilled in the living room of Taylor’s home has grown to an operation with 3 paid employees, Kyle-cutting, Justin-sewing, and Duncan finally on the payroll as the designer, where 70 bags can easily be made in a day. “There’s so much you learn as a business owner. How to manage your anxiety alongside your business, how to prioritize your needs, how to realize that there is always more to do, and as someone who loves to check off a list for me it was learning that the list will never end but how to keep that running list manageable.—it’s hard, but it’s so fulfilling”
“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life” is a saying that makes it sound like it’s going to be easy, but it’s not. If you’re working for something that makes you feel good, then at the end of the day, it makes it all worth it.
So, what do you love? And what do you have to offer it?