Blooming into winter: A profile of the CU student behind Bloom Outerwear

Excitement drifts through the air when leaves start falling from the trees. The end of fall means that ski season is circling right around the corner. Every year, thousands of people commute to the mountains to earn their carves in the snow-capped peaks of Colorado.

As the weather gets colder and people begin to ski, businesses involved in the ski industry get to work. Out of the thousands of industries involved in skiing, Bloom Outerwear is on the rise to the top.

Jim Borchardt worked for five years to turn his vision of making a ski outerwear company into a reality. Borchardt grew up in Edwards, Colorado, just outside of Vail. Ever since the sixth grade, Borchardt found his passion in freestyle skiing. With such a devotion to skiing, he felt he had to turn his dream into a career.

Borchardt attended CU Boulder from 2011 to 2014, studying at the Leeds School of Business. As a sophomore, Borchardt had the vision to create Bloom Outerwear. With his roommates on deck, the pens and pencils hit the drawing board. After hours of time and dedication, he created the logo for Bloom.

Bloom is more than a name

The growth of a flower is an amazing life process. Flowers start off as seeds, but once the right nutrients are added and sunlight hits — life starts to emerge. With a love of nature, Borchardt became fixed on the name Bloom.

“We thought that it represented constantly changing, growing and becoming better,” Borchardt said. “I wanted to convey the idea of constant change and progression through that one word.”

When the company started in 2011 in Boulder, Colorado, there was not a lot of money to be spent on advertising. As a sophomore, Borchardt promoted Bloom locally around CU.

“When I was at CU, I was all word-of-mouth and just sending stickers out to kids and just trying to like connect that way,” Borchardt said. Now in 2016, Borchardt uses social media and internet platforms like Instagram and Google to advertise his business.

Staying local

Borchardt established Bloom Outerwear in Boulder back in 2011. Once Borchardt departed from CU Boulder, he had to set up manufacturing elsewhere. Today, Borchardt works with a company in Denver to help design his outerwear such as jackets and pants. Once the designs are finalized, the company sends the designs to China to get the materials. Although the materials are produced in China, assembly for the products takes place in Denver.

The ski industry is a hard place to make a profit. With an array of monopolizing companies like Armada and Saga, the road to the top has been an obstacle.

“A company like Armada has more of a budget for marketing and online advertising and all that, so I think it’s hard in that regard,” Borchardt said. “I just have more of a limited budget compared to a bigger company.”

Despite that limited budget, Borchardt believes in his product line and feels like he is on a competitive playing field. He invests all of his energy in developing the right fabrics, color designs and durable outerwear. Not only is Borchardt confident in his product, he also believes in his team.

Bloom Outerwear team skier Levi Ascher showing off the 2017 Onward jacket from Bloom Outerwear. (Nikita Mamochine/Student contribution)

Working as a team

Currently, Borchardt has eight skiers skiing for Bloom. He’s put a lot of energy into assembling the right team to ski and promote his product. Levi Ascher has been skiing for Bloom Outerwear for four years now. Growing up in Breckenridge, Colorado, Ascher has been skiing ever since he could walk.

“My parents pushed me down the driveway on a pair of skis at 11 months old — so about a week after I learned to walk,” Ascher said.  

Ascher believes in Bloom Outerwear because he enjoys how his input shapes the development of the product.

“Jim takes a lot of input from the riders, and he’s got a really sharp sense of style,” Ascher said. “He just does a really good job catering to what people want to see and where trends are going.”

Where to find Bloom

In the past, Borchardt sold part of his product line in retail stores. Although that brought in some income, the margins for business weren’t there. Borchardt now handles 100 percent of his sales online. Bloom Outerwear specializes in making ski pants and ski jackets. The company also makes t-shirts and hats, but that line of clothing will not be released until the spring.

The ski industry is a competitive market. New companies like Bloom Outerwear start off small, but may soon be on a level playing field. As a Denver company, Bloom Outerwear will be seen all across the slopes. To find out more about Bloom Outerwear, please visit its website.

Nikita Mamochine is a CU student journalist and former CU Independent writer who originally wrote this piece for his Reporting 2 class. Contact him at nikita.mamochine@colorado.edu.

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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