Camelback Culture, a local apparel company, is a labor of love for Jes Shapiro.
Before starting Camelback Culture, Shapiro was an interior designer with her own consulting business in Texas. When Shapiro and her husband Ben moved to Arcadia in January 2011, she was shocked to see the immensity of Camelback Mountain looming over her home.
It was in the background of the Shapiro’s daily lives, while Shapiro homeschooled her twin boys. She became more acquainted with the mountain after Ben started hiking it regularly (something like 325 times in one year kind of “regularly”). Camelback Culture was born out of love for the mountain.
Shapiro started the company as a way to support Ben and his hiking endeavors. She created a t-shirt for her husband, and when he wore it while hiking Camelback, he noticed that it seemed to spark something in others on the mountain. Ben was constantly asked where he got his shirt. So, Shapiro decided to learn Adobe Illustrator and has been creating “mountain-inspired” apparel ever since. Along with the shirts, Shapiro has created a variety of sweatshirts, hoodies, tank-tops, stickers, fanny packs and photo prints.
When Ben got to know the regulars on Camelback, the pair realized they had something much bigger than t-shirts. Shapiro then saw the potential in making lasting connections with others who enjoyed hiking just as much as she did.
“We started making people stop and talk to each other,” Shapiro said. “We just wanted to have everybody really come together and get to know one another.”
“It’s a binding force in the community and not everywhere in the world has something like that,” Shapiro said. “I think that it is just this huge jewel that we have here.”
Shapiro said that folks don’t have to be an expert hiker – or a hiker at all – to join the Camelback Culture community. “You just have to love the mountain, go out there and connect with people,” she said. “Hiking can strip away all the vanity and stress in daily life. It really gives you that moment when everybody is just a person and they all manage to accomplish the same thing.”
Shapiro hopes that in the future more people will find community within Camelback Culture. She believes success for the hikers would be for people to “take the lessons of the mountain and bring them down and have everyone act like that in their daily life.”
For more: camelbackculture.com.