This Women-Owned Business Succeeds through Partnership

This Women-Owned Business Succeeds through Partnership

Storm Creek has been a women-owned business since 2014. Teresa Fudenberg is the primary owner. Along with her husband and co-owner Doug Jackson, they bring the wide range of experience, skills, and vision needed for this company to flourish.

Here, we get to know the power couple behind the success of our Minnesota-based eco-apparel company:

Storm Creek’s Origin

Doug started in the apparel industry many decades ago. His family lived at the base of a ski resort in Minnesota, so he grew up on the slopes, both here and later in Colorado beginning in his college years.

With his “ski bum” background it was a natural fit to work for a couple of ski wear brands in Colorado. One of them was founded by a man who had been importing sporting goods products from overseas since the 40s. When Doug was hired to run their ski wear division, he was sent to Asia for weeks at a time to work with fabric companies there.

This experience gave him the foundation he used to eventually develop apparel himself in partnership with the overseas companies he was already in a relationship with. “I knew so many people and how everything worked over in Asia, so it became quite easy for me to start my own product line. I knew the whole industry from start to finish,” says Doug.

With his best overseas partners, he began to make private-label outdoor performance apparel for various outdoor brands, sometimes even helping them with sales.

But Doug still had no desire to go into business for himself and deal with inventory and the other day-to-day aspects of running an apparel company. One of his Asian fabric partners had become a good friend by this time, though, and kept pushing him in that direction. Finally, it became the next good business move and Storm Creek was born in 2006.

A Personal and Professional Relationship is Formed

Teresa brings many years of experience working with emerging entrepreneurial companies. She helped build brands and provide marketing strategies, assisting in the development of the businesses for visionary professionals.

“It was the exact opposite of the things Doug loved,” she says. “And so we found a match made in heaven in that we’re able to complement each other’s strengths. We took a brand that was largely in other people’s hands—the wholesalers—and moved forward with a different business model.”

Storm Creek didn’t even have a website yet. In 2014, Teresa and Doug (who had married by this time) made the decision to change both our business model and our ownership model. They continued to work with wholesalers and distributors but also began to sell directly to consumers. 

By the end of 2014, Storm Creek became a women-owned company, with Teresa holding a 51% share. We were eventually certified by WBENC, the “gold standard” for American women-owned businesses.

“The product vision, supply chain relations and factory relations are Doug’s brain. My brain goes more towards the business, the people and the brand strategy,” says Teresa. “It’s not perfectly delineated, but that was what we set forth to do.”

At that stage they still didn’t have their own website, or marketing team, service team or sales team. Then they discovered the book Traction and the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS). These tools helped them move forward with more efficiency and focus to build it into what it is today—a thriving self-contained company.

The Desire to Engage with Purpose

One of Storm Creek’s core values is to Engage with Purpose. It’s been entrenched in both Teresa and Doug from the beginning. They joke that their dating days were more like 20 Questions than dating. Doug says, “One of the questions was all about giving. I told her Storm Creek was started with that idea—we’re going to use it to give. She just lit up with that concept.”

Teresa adds, “Our goal in terms of giving is $5 million to charity by 2030. Based on everyone I’ve interviewed at far bigger companies, that’s a monumental goal and commitment. It requires us to be so aligned on even the process and partners by which we get there. It’s truly a desire that has nothing else behind it than to make an impact. It brings us a lot of joy." 

What It’s Like Working Together

Teresa is quick to say how much she loves working with Doug. “We’re wired similarly in terms of drive, expectations of self, and—more importantly—expectations of being blessed with a business that provides an economic engine for giving, being able to really make a difference in the world. Being aligned in our core values makes the rest kind of take care of itself.”

Doug agrees. “We do totally different things, so it works really well. We’re involved in a lot of big decisions and we see eye-to-eye nearly 99% of the time.”

The Storm Creek Products Teresa and Doug are Most Proud Of

For Teresa, the answer to the “What product are you most proud of?” question is a fabric they call sueded jersey.

She says, “We identified a fabric we could carry in all kinds of different weights and truly meet the office/outdoor athleisure versatility—dining out, hiking, business meeting, whatever. It’s perfectly aligned with how Americans are living their lives.

“The ability to spot a fabric that’s—believe it or not—made of many, many recycled plastic water bottles and yet is the softest thing…our customers literally go ga-ga over it! I’m very proud of that ability to pinpoint a fabric that transcends generations, uses and styles.”

Doug points to Storm Creek’s Front Runner Vest and Naturalist Shirt as his favorites. “They’re just very, very well-done products. I can always impress someone when I give them one and they wear it, wash it and wear it some more, and three years later they say it still looks brand new.”

“We start everything with the fabric,” he adds. “You get a good fabric and you can make a really good garment.”

Family Life and Hobbies

Doug and Teresa have a blended family with four adult children, all in their 20s. The couple enjoys exercising together—running, hiking and other activities that give them easy ways to test out their product line at the same time. And they travel together—often. Mountains, beaches, and concerts are their favorite destinations.

Doug says, “Probably my favorite things to do are ski and fly fish—and I don’t do either of them anymore! Hopefully we’ll be skiing again. Otherwise, golf.”

Teresa loves food and wine. “I obsess over food. I like to cook food, to share food, to cook for other people…and pair it with wine. And I’m much more of a reader than a TV person. I have a goal of setting a record for how many books I read this year.”