Eagan-based Storm Creek, an outerwear maker for women and men, doesn't yet have the name recognition of North Face or Patagonia.
But the company, which began in 2006 making jackets and other items branded for companies, wants to make its name known for quality at a less-expensive price and its eco-friendly practices.
"We get compared to [North Face and Patagonia] often," said founder and President Doug Jackson. "Our fabric quality is as good as theirs and in many cases it's in the same factories, but we price it to be approachable. If Patagonia is at $200 for a garment, we're at $110."
Jackson owns the company with his wife, the company's chief executive, Teresa Fudenberg, and the pair decided to take the company in a new direction in 2016, branching out from wholesalers to distributors, specialty retailers and promotional marketers that put company names and logos on apparel and accessories.
Since then the company has grown about 40% a year with revenue of more than $10 million last year. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a 25% setback this year, but the company is hoping for 30% growth in 2021.
Nearly three-quarters of revenue comes from corporations wanting apparel with their promotional logo. Most of the remainder from specialty retailers.
Storm Creek follows the sustainability and eco-friendliness of Patagonia by using recycled materials. Some products, such as woven shirts, are Bluesign-rated, meaning they are manufactured with responsible use of resources and lower impact on people and the environment.
By the end of this year, 75% of the line will be sustainably sourced using recycled materials and 100% by the end of 2021.
While Patagonia makes some of its clothing in the U.S., where labor costs are higher, Storm Creek makes its 80 different items in factories in Vietnam, China and India.
"U.S. factories don't manufacture garments made of high-tech fabrics with zippers — they're mostly basics like T-shirts, sweatshirts and swim trunks," Jackson said.
The brand is carried locally at retailers such as Foursome in Plymouth, Bill's Toggery in Shakopee, Midwest Mountaineering and Jaxon Grey in Minneapolis and in greater Minnesota at resorts such as Pier B in Duluth, Giants Ridge in Biwabik and Superior Shores in Two Harbors.
One of the most accessible ways to test the brand is its annual warehouse sale, which runs through Saturday. Merchandise such as men's and women's jackets, flannel shirts, vests, hoodies, gaiters, pullovers, hats and mittens are discounted 50 to 80%, sale priced from $3 to $60.
Jackson and Fudenberg plan to raise $30,000 for charities during the sale through its Shop for a Cause program. Customers select one of 13 charities at the checkout for the company to donate 10% of the purchase, including the American Cancer Society, Save the Boundary Waters and Tee It Up for the Troops.
"Our warehouse sale was founded on the opportunity to give back to the community — it's the bedrock of this event," said Fudenberg. The company contributes 5% of its pretax profits to charity as part of the Minnesota Keystone Program.
Outdoor enthusiast Steve Ruelle of Minnetonka shopped the warehouse sale last week for the first time, although he's been buying the brand for several years.
"The bargains are phenomenal," he said. "Storm Creek's quality holds up as well as North Face or Patagonia."
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the owners made changes to the sale to make it safer to shop. Online ordering is available through Dec. 20. In-person shopping through Saturday is done by appointment at StormCreek.com or by calling 651-480-3000. Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are allowed.
A personal shopper is also available by video to choose styles via the website.
This is the first year the sale will also be held the first three Fridays in December at the warehouse location. New merchandise will be arriving throughout the sale.
The warehouse is located at 915 Blue Gentian Road, Suite 900 in Eagan, behind Costco.