Hot, stuffy and uncomfortable wasn’t exactly how Seth Haber wanted to feel during his camping excursions. But the weekend outdoorsman, who in 2001 moved from Rhode Island to Boulder, Colo., to take advantage of the state’s recreation opportunities, found the traditional setup of a tent and sleeping pad uncomfortable. He decided to create a better way for weary trekkers to get some rest.
After a year of experimenting with fabrics and designs, Mr. Haber launched Trek Light Gear, a line of hammocks. Made from the durable nylon used for parachutes, the hammocks provide comfort for not only campers but the environment; unlike tents, they don’t crush plants or leave worn spots on the ground. Though lightweight, the material is very strong – Mr. Haber says a typical Trek Light hammock can support up to 400 pounds.
Once the design was set, Mr. Haber spent weekends hawking his wares at festivals and consumer shows. By 2005, with sales heating up, he quit his desk job at a medical company. Mr. Haber won’t disclose sales figures but confirms the company is growing.
As he immersed himself in Trek Light, Mr. Haber sought ways to incorporate more sustainable practices. Inspired by the “buy one, give one” movement, he decided to work with environmental nonprofits to plant a tree for each hammock sold. And, troubled by the waste from his company’s manufacturing process, he created Eco Totes, a line of reusable bags made from leftover hammock fabric.
Mr. Haber continues to launch additional product lines, with accompanying charitable components generated from sales. Last year he launched the Bindle backpack – for every pack sold the company delivers a school supply kit to a child in need around the world through a partnership with a non-profit called Be The Change Volunteers.
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Mr. Haber says his company has also planted “thousands of trees,” and he expects that number to grow significantly if the wholesale agreements he has in the works come to fruition. He sees the tie-ins he has implemented as essential to the company’s existence.
“That, to me, is what all business should be about: finding success personally and creating good for others around you,” he says.
Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).
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