Outdoor gear brand Revelry pledges ongoing support to investing in Native lands and communities
According to Revelry cofounder and CEO Brandon Stewart, the brand of Revelry boils down to authenticity. Just like the passions of the people running it, Revelry’s foundation is built on quality experiences with a love and appreciation for the natural world. With a solid footing of who they are and what their brand represents, Revelry approached First Nations with a plan to make a difference, and every month, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Revelry manufactures and sells outdoor gear and smell-proof luggage, including coolers, hard cases, backpacks and duffle bags, all created for “seamless transition” throughout people’s lives, from everyday activities to adventures. “Our products are inspired by the world around us and designed to reflect the cultures and beauty we see every day,” Brandon says.
The brand has existed since 2015, and now sells online and through retail establishments throughout the US and Canada. Additionally, in 2020, the eight-person company launched Revelry Herb Co., a cannabis division that sells exclusively in California. In late 2020, the combination of Revelry’s outdoor gear – along with their new cannabis flower and prerolls – put Brandon Stewart in an ideal position to explore charitable outreach.
“Starting as a small bootstrapped company, social responsibility wasn’t our initial thought,” he says. “But, when COVID hit, we saw how it affected people, especially Indigenous communities. We saw worlds come crashing down.”
But at the same time, he says, as people’s hardships increased, so too did their pursuit of escaping to the outdoors or enjoying cannabis.
“Cannabis became essential for many people, and our smell-proof luggage sales had a better year than normal. That feels great and all,” Brandon reflects, “But the question then became: How do we give back?”
In thinking about the company’s brand, the Revelry team wanted to focus on a philanthropic area that was aligned with who they are: Adventurists making products to be enjoyed outdoors, with an appreciation for nature. “We said, let’s take what is special to us and see who we can support that follows our values.”
First, the goal was to focus on the need they saw around them every day: The fallout of COVID-19. While quarantines, economic shutdowns, and breakdowns in physical and mental health were hitting the nation – but sparking the cannabis industry – Revelry wanted to give back in a way that would do the most good, in the soonest way possible.
That’s when Brandon learned about First Nations and the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which was established exclusively to support Native nations and Native-led organizations as they respond to and recover from COVID-19. Brandon reached out to First Nations Development Officer Jona Charette (Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) to arrange a monthly donation of a percentage of Revelry sales to go directly to the Emergency Response Fund.
Then, in learning more about First Nations programs and in experiencing continued growth in the company’s cannabis line, Brandon worked with Jona to shift Revelry’s contribution from supporting emergency response, to investing in First Nations’ Stewarding Native Lands program. “This was very important for us in aligning with the values of our company,” Brandon says. “We want to support programs and people who care about the land that has inspired our products. We want to help in keeping that land pristine.”
Indeed, Stewarding Native Lands is an emerging program at First Nations, and the goal of the program is to provide financial and technical assistance to support Native ecological stewardship and improve Native control of and access to ancestral lands and resources to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of Native communities, explains First Nations Senior Program Officer Emilie Ellis.
These communities include the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana, which is building a Geographic Information System database to map tribal resources for timber sales, forest development, fuels, and fire management projects, and the Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, which is supporting the opposition of oil and gas drilling in the Chaco Canyon area, which specifically threatens the public health, Navajo culture, and tribal sovereignty of the Navajo Nation.
“There is tremendous opportunity to support this work, and to help restore and retain Native lands,” Emilie says. “The intention and the generosity of Revelry in recognizing this need and investing in these efforts is highly valued by First Nations. With this kind of support, we can continue to advance this program and ensure resources for protecting and preserving Native lands get to these Tribes and Tribal organizations.”
Not Checking a Box
Revelry’s approach to philanthropy is understated and measured – much like their products – and the company plans to take sales and donations one step at a time.
“We’re not trying to check a box of philanthropy that looks self-promoting,” he says. “We’re proud of our brand and our products, and we want people to buy our products because they like them.”
Still, First Nations continues to value Revelry’s donations, which have been generous. To date, through monthly gifts, the company has donated almost $8,000 to support both pandemic response and relief efforts, and grant funding to Native communities that are preserving and protecting Native lands. The support has had a direct and positive impact in terms of collaboration, philanthropic partnership, and funding for these important programs.
Meanwhile, Brandon remains humble. “We want to just keeping producing things we love, and giving what we can,” he says.