We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennings Hester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennings, how does your business help the community?
Our mission is to improve all lives by serving men facing mental health challenges. Men comprise over 80% of all suicides in the US, while making up less than 20% of people treated for a mental illness or substance abuse. While we focus on directly reducing those statistics by working with men, it affects the entire community. Behind every man is a partner, spouse, family and friends. We want to help every one of them improve their quality of life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
As a 501(c)3 non profit, we are very different from most businesses in the fly fishing and mental health industries. We are the only organization in the US that utilizes the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing to help men struggling with mental health. We do this by raising awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, providing financial assistance to men in need by selling hand tied flies and fundraising, providing expert mental health resources and fly fishing retreats to empower men to improve their lives.
Our progress has not been easy. Our first year we shipped over 4,000 flies, all tied by ourselves. There were countless late nights, early mornings and every dollar was earned by time consuming labor. Today, we have started to build a strong reputation which has opened our doors to more fundraising opportunities. Witnessing that shift in under two years has been unbelievable.
We had to learn to scale a retail business, while taking a step back to lay our framework and strategy for long term success. Sometimes you have to take 10 steps back to ensure you’re set up to execute the mission.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would definitely be a blend of time in the city vs. the outdoors. I’d take them camping in Indian Peaks or near Salida for a few nights. In the city, we’d visit some of the best breweries (Zuni Street Brewing, Call to Arms, Our Mutual Friend) and take them to some of the fun restaurants in the area like Ale House, SuperMegaBien or My Brother’s Bar. For night life, I’d definitely take them out for a night in RiNo to explore the different
breweries, distilleries and other hot spots.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The vast majority of time, men who seek help related to mental health challenges, are encouraged to do so by loved ones who are directly impacted by their symptoms. I have my family and girlfriend to thank. Without them actively encouraging me to seek treatment, I’d still be struggling today.