Boardman native finds success with innovative outdoor-gear business


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A few years ago, Kelli Jones was out hunting when she hopped a fence and ripped her brand-new – and expensive – Patagonia jacket.

“I didn’t want to send it back to the warranty repair department, because I needed it for that season,” said the Boardman native, who now lives in Jackson, Wyo.

The incident got her thinking. Why wasn’t there a better fix for expensive outdoor gear?

The entrepreneur ran with the idea, and in 2016 she launched Noso Patches, a company that produces fashionable adhesive patches to cover rips in nylon gear.

In less than two years, Noso Patches has grown exponentially. Jones predicts the business will reach $150,000 in sales this year, up from $20,000 in 2016 and $52,000 in 2017, according to an interview with Outside Magazine.

Jones recently was featured in the May edition of the outdoors-focused magazine, which also lauded Noso Patches as “the best piece of 2018 gear” in a February article.

In his “Gear Guy” column, Outside’s Joe Jackson wrote that Noso stands out from competitors because the patches are made from nylon instead of tape.

“The nylon moves and stretches better with the fabric of your jacket or pack, doesn’t fray at the edges, and stays put through more washes,” he wrote. “Tech aside, the flair that these patches will add to a jacket is probably the strongest selling point. Their bold colors and fun shapes – like lightning bolts and hemp leaves – make them almost more accessory than repair piece. ... A tip of the hat to Noso for making environmental friendliness look good.”

Jones, 38, grew up in the Mahoning Valley, and graduated from Boardman High School in 1998. There, she distinguished herself as a swimmer who never lost a race, earning her a swimming scholarship to the University of Toledo.

After graduating from college, Jones moved to Jackson, drawn by the mountains. She works there as an accountant and entrepreneur.

“I didn’t ski. I was a D-1 swimmer,” she said. “I learned how to ski. Then I realized skiers put duct tape on their jackets when there’s a hole in them.”

This thought eventually led her to design Noso Patches.

She launched Noso Patches by crowdfunding on Indiegogo.

The patches use a heat-activated technology to adhere to fabric.

“Noso is no sewing,” Jones explained. “It’s an embellishment patch that you stick on like a sticker.”

The material is thin, and can patch anything from a backpack to a tent to a rain jacket.

The designs, which you can find on nosopatches.com, include flowers, hearts, lucky clovers, stars, mustaches, animals and more.

A packet that comes with a few patches is priced at $14.99 on the company’s website. The company also offers customized designs.

Beyond being cute, Jones wants her product to extend the lifespan of outdoor gear and help reduce waste. Instead of throwing away damaged gear, you can apply a patch and keep using the item for years to come.

The production of the patches also is environmentally friendly.

Noso Patches works with manufacturers to upcycle unused, or scrapped, fabrics into patches.

In the future, Jones wants Noso Patches to be as integral to outdoor equipment as shoelaces are to shoes.

“My overall goal with Noso is to include a patch with every piece of gear that comes out of the outdoor industries, like you get an extra button with a new sweater,” she said. “Eventually, I see my patches on every piece of gear in the outdoor industry.”

With the success she’s had thus far, she’s optimistic.

“People are really responding and digging our patches,” she said. “We like to say we’re saving the planet one patch at a time.”

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