Charlotte Bowens, the founder of Conscious Gear, received a surprise this week that will help her business grow. Verizon awarded her a $10,000 grant to support her brand. This grant is a result of her participation in Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program, which provides tools, coaching and resources for small businesses.

Bowens was selected for the grant because she is an active and engaged user of the platform. Her story resonated with Verizon, making her a deserving recipient of the grant. ABC15 has previously featured Bowens and Conscious Gear, specifically highlighting their VestaPak hydration packs designed to better fit larger bodies.

The innovative product grew out of Bowens’ personal weight loss journey and fitness experience. During her fitness efforts, she noticed a gap in the outdoor equipment industry and decided to address it with her own brand. The Vestapak uses a vest-style design, which differs from traditional backpack-like straps, to improve movement, hydration and exercise. The product has received national attention and was included on USA Today’s list of the 10 best gifts for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bowens said the grant was a pleasant surprise, highlighting her passion for creating products that resonate with the plus-size community. She plans to use the grant money to hire a team member, outsource to fill orders and cover office rental costs. Despite occasional self-doubt, Bowens feels validated by the support she’s received from the community and believes in the importance of her work.

Excited to expand her brand, Bowens aims to develop new products such as shorts and hiking shirts for plus-sized individuals. In addition, she is working to make the VestaPak available at REI Co-op stores nationwide and online. Bowens’ commitment to inclusivity and innovation propels Conscious Gear to new heights in the outdoor industry.

By Samantha Johnson

As a dedicated content writer at, I immerse myself in the art of storytelling through words. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for crafting engaging narratives, I strive to captivate our audience with each piece I create. Whether I'm covering breaking news, delving into feature articles, or exploring thought-provoking editorials, my goal remains constant: to inform, entertain, and inspire through the power of writing. Join me on this journalistic journey as we navigate through the ever-evolving media landscape together.

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