We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Vander Neut and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sarah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My background helps me when it comes to risk taking: My dad was a Baptist Pastor growing up. My parents never emphasized the importance of making money, instead they encouraged my siblings and I to pursue occupations that utilized the way that we were gifted as individuals. When it was clear that I was gifted creatively, they were happy for me, and a discussion about money never came up. Opportunity risk or cost is a common idea these days: the notion that your time spent on a project is not spent elsewhere. So, being an entrepreneur has both financial and opportunity risk, but my childhood set me up to not think about those risks so much, because life is more than money.

If you are a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve done as a parent in terms of the impact on your children?
I always have wanted my kids to see how hard and how joyful work is, and that consistent work every day does pay off. My husband and I have two daughters in elementary school, and we take them to most of the pop-up events and races that we do. When we started out, I would go behind our market tent and breast feed my firstborn in the snow at some markets! It was tough. At home these days my girls are used to hearing “I have to work now,” because my studio is at our house, and boundaries have to be drawn verbally, since the workspace doesn’t establish work boundaries visually. So, I guess my point is that inclusion is really a helpful way to teach kids. We try to include our kids and explain why we are making a sign, or saying certain things to people. We try to help them make the connections about how working as a family makes work easier for everyone. I will try to explain taxes! haha

What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand?

Patience is the most helpful thing. I am so thankful everyday that I am married to a person who is super patient about growth. I am the driven one, and without a spouse, my intensity of focus on work would easily become unhealthy. There are seasons when it seems like the thirteen things I am doing to grow Vander Jacket are coming up short. Then, suddenly, unexpectedly, some of that effort pays off! It has been ten years this year of growth for Vander Jacket, and I am thankful for continued slow growth.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The single most defining characteristic of my company Vander Jacket is that we make running jackets for men and women that are constructed 100% in Denver. Not only is our apparel made in the USA, it is a locally constructed garment brand for western states, Most athletic apparel is made overseas, or, if it is USA made, it is constructed on opposite coasts. Vander Jacket is bolstering the garment industry in Denver and Aurora, Colorado. This local focus provides people in our community good paying jobs in the garment industry.

Not only that, but we make original and small batches of running jackets from local excess fabric. Our process of creation is solving a waste problem, as well as creating wearable, sweat-able, pieces of art for the normal runners to the serious ultra-runners who are out there getting it done!

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?
We would certainly embark on some curated picnics! My favorite thing in the world is a beautiful picnic with good food, and a gorgeous setting. Fortunately Denver is dense with gorgeous settings. We would picnic at Wash Park on a Saturday evening and watch people, and catch crawdads in the creek with raw pork chops on string. We would go hear some world class free music at the Levitt Center and picnic on Ruby Hill. We would rent Kayaks at the Aurora Reservoir and then picnic on the plains. I would also take my friend to Feral Mountain on Tennyson, and Common Threads on Old South Pearl Street, because these places have the best deals on previously loved goods. I’d certainly run with them down on the Platte River, and then visit the Carboy Winery.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to take this space to say thanks to the Mile High Workshop, Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Center, the teachers at Campus Middle School, and the students at Denver Seminary, who inspire me each day to think about how business can benefit our community and bring healing, growth, restoration, and justice to the world.

Website: https://vanderjacket.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanderjacket/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vanderjacket

Image Credits
Jesse Johnson, Bernadette Drafts

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.