MWV Vibe Small Business Spotlight Winter 18/19
Founded in 2016, UTILITY is a premium made in USA line of gear and apparel, providing an alternative to today's major brands without compromising quality. Emphasizing function and adaptability, UTILITY has a diverse portfolio of products aimed at providing style-conscious athletes with innovative clothing and accessories. All products are designed and hand-crafted in small batches.
Core gear includes the TOTE-PAK, which has collapsible inside pockets, the ability to turn the handles into backpack straps, as well as an expandable collar that adds 10 L of storage. Another popular item, the BIKE-PAK is ideal for storing tools, tubes, clothes and snacks. It conveniently and easily attaches to the front of most bikes and can be worn sling style with included strap. Core apparel items release as collections and transition well in different seasons and settings - whether you’re on the mountain, in the gym, traveling or out with friends.
UTILITY is a proud member of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Its owner and designer, Patrick Lord, is a Founding member of Thrive MWV - a program geared towards mentoring students seeking a sustainable career in the Mt. Washington Valley by providing apprenticeship, job shadowing and financial assistance.
The Conway Daily Sun. Aug. 4, 2018
BARTLETT — Helping Rob Nadler with the tour of Ragged Mountain Equipment last week was his and former wife Patty Lord’s son, Patrick Lord, 27, a garment and a pack designer both for Ragged and his own company, UTILITY Designs.
Lord is the next generation of designers working out of Ragged Mountain’s Intervale shop, having grown up in the store and getting heavily involved with the operations in recent years.
Runner-up last fall in the MWV Economic Council’s “Start Tank” takeoff on TV’s “Shark Tank” program, Lord is just back from a business trip to New York City, where he lived for seven years.
The winner, Kevin C. Bourque, founder of OuterU Gear Inc., the North Conway maker of "the smarter face mask," won a $25,000 convertible note.
Lord, meanwhile, won a scholarship to the Young Leadership program, offered by the MWV Chamber of Commerce, an experience which he described as an “amazing opportunity that gave me great insight into the Mount Washington Valley.”
Recently, he talked about his experiences of having been raised in the valley, combined with his later time in New York City. All that, he said, helped guide his design of his products.
“I have always had a keen sense for spotting trends before they blossom,” Lord said. “I noticed early on the increased demand for fashion forward packs, I also noticed that there was a large gap in the market between what looks good and what functions well for the end user.”
At the time, he said, he couldn't find a suitable pack for his own lifestyle needs and as a result was endlessly sketching “the ultimate bag.”
He took a few trips home back to New Hampshire from New York to produce the first prototype of what he thought would be a fun side project just for him.
After he moved back to New Hampshire in 2015, he kept toying with new designs for bags and clothing.
“I thought of my daily struggle as a commuter in the city; I also took into consideration my connection to the outdoors and what could be applicable in a variety of settings. Soon it was the only thing I could think about, and a hobby turned into an opportunity and UTILITY was born,” Lord related.
He says with pride that UTILITY gear offers a wide range of functional advantages for its users. Each “PAK” has the ability to either expand or be worn/carried in multiple ways.
“What makes UTILITY different is my ability to create products that can be ‘utilized’ in multiple ways, and always taking into consideration consumers from across the spectrum,” says Lord.
Although counselors at the MWVEC’s “Stark Tank” urged him last fall to consider changing the company’s name to a less broad name, Lord says his retailers and customers like it.
They also urged him to concentrate on fewer products, but again, he says he has been encouraged by his contacts to keep on innovating — and so he is.
Among the start-up company’s most popular products is its Tote-Pak that has multiple closure options, two collapsible inside pockets, an expandable collar that adds 10 L of storage, and can externally hold yoga mats, shoes, jackets etc. and the ability to turn the handles into backpack straps.
Other products are the Sling-Pak X, which is designed to carry personal items such as a cell phone, wallet, pens and passport. It expands to hold odd-shaped items such as cameras, cups, and cans comfortably.
The company’s Bike-Pak mounts to the front of a bike, and allows the rider to strap additional gear, lights and even a yoga mat or shoes to the front and can be worn casually with the included shoulder strap during off bike usage.
The goal, Lord said, is to blend style with features without compromising on quality.
“I hope to continue to expand the presence of UTILITY in this wonderful community and welcome any collaborative opportunities,” said Lord.
-Photos By Jamie Gemmiti