How do you get into the business of belts? For Jen Perry, this meant finding a way to stand out from the market competition. Her belts needed to be easy to wear and functional for humans on the go, which meant swapping out uncomfortable metal parts for material made from 100% recycled water bottles. Beyond making and selling these belts is a commitment to giving back to the community and making a difference through sustainable fashion, which the business is able to do as a certified B Corporation. Read on to find out more about Jen and her Bozeman, MT-based B Corp.
How a near death experience allowed me to start Jelt: “Many years ago, I had a near death experience when my appendix ruptured and I got sepsis. I was in the hospital for many months and said to myself that if I survived the experience, I would do something to give back to the world. I did survive and knew that I wanted to follow through with this deathbed vision.
I always had this idea for a stretchy belt that would keep my skinny jeans up and my ski pants on. The belt would be made from 100% recycled materials and have no metal parts, so it could be worn through airport security. No more stripping in the security line! I knew if I needed this product, other people would, too. From here, Jelt, short for ‘Jen’s Belt,’ was born. Jelt is a Social Enterprise, whose sole mission is to generate profits to give back to our community, to families, to veterans and to environmental non-profits.”
Becoming B Corp certified was written in the stars for our business: “Being a B Corp was a no-brainer for us. Everything we do is to take care of the planet and its people—from our materials, to our manufacturing, to our donations to non-profits that have meaning to us. Getting B Corp certified, however, was incredibly difficult and time consuming. We were lucky, though, and had an outside consultant do the paperwork for us. It took over eight months! We had to prove that every aspect of our business was for the good of our employees, our customers and the planet. I am honored that my company passed the B Corp test and that we are doing our best to be a business for good.”
The story behind Jelt’s biggest win: “We’ve had so many milestones since Jelt launched in February 2014. If I had to name one, it would probably be that I was awarded 2017 Employer of the Year by the Business Professional Women’s Association. It was an honor to be recognized by professionals in my community for my company’s hard work to bring manufacturing from China to our home state of Montana via the Montana Correctional Enterprises. Our belts are now manufactured in the Women’s Prison in Billings, Montana, through a rehabilitation program that interviews, trains and pays incarcerated women in various manufacturing jobs, so that these women can gain valuable skills and self-confidence prior to their release.”
How we’re able to “B The Change” through our headquarters: “Every day we work in a relaxed, productive environment where my employees have autonomy and freedom to work at their own pace. They are encouraged to speak up, volunteer in the community, attend their children’s programs and take time to exercise. I’ve been told that Jelt Headquarters is an awesome place to work! That makes me very happy.”
If you want to become a B Corp… “Go for it! If not now… when?!?”
What does it truly mean to be a certified B Corporation? “Not many people know what being B Corp certified means. After we were certified, we had a community party to celebrate, but more importantly, EDUCATE our friends, our families and the people of our town what a B Corporation certification means and how we are using business as a force for good. In the future, I hope that this movement spreads as more people understand the significance of being B Certified and how businesses can impact the world in a positive way.”
About Jen Perry, Owner and Inventor, Jelt
Jelt launched in February 2014, out of a quaint office in downtown Bozeman, Montana. Jelt’s Owner and Inventor, Jen Perry, started Jelt out of pure necessity. As an athletic, busy working mother and business owner, Jen discovered a need for a functional belt to keep her jeans from sagging and her kids from cringing. With her passion for the outdoors and the company’s headquarters located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Jelt evolved from being a comfortable, flat belt to wear with jeans to the perfect belt for hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, traveling and everyday fashion.