When Dawn Fylyshtan left her job in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew she wanted to start her own business.
She loves hiking with her dog Riley and paddle boarding on Okanagan Lake, so she focused on items needed for both those activities, including, dry packs, outdoor accessories, duffel bags, hydration packs and paddle boards.
“I find being outdoors a stress relief, therapeutic and brings me great joy, especially these last couple of years,” says Fylyshtan. “I decided I wanted to share this joy with others and start my own company.”
Her company, Riley Outdoors, named after her faithful canine companion, designs and manufactures the bags and boards it sells, all with the outdoor enthusiast—both weekend warrior and more serious outdoor enthusiast—in mind.
“It’s been a bit of a learning curve but has been very good, especially meeting people and hearing directly from them what (features) they would like to see in the bags,” says Fylyshtan.
Her Kelowna-based business, which she started a year ago, currently operates on-line at rileyoutdoors.ca. Producing quality equipment at competitive prices that she designs herself, Fylyshtan has a sense of pride in knowing she is providing outdoor
enthusiasts just like her what they want and need when it comes to bags and boards.
The products Riley Outdoors produces and sells are also making a name for themselves among outdoor enthusiasts, in large part because she listens to the feedback she gets from her customers.
“What I may use a bag for is not necessarily the same as what someone else may use it for, so getting that feedback is important,” she says.
The response to her products has been good and they have been well-received at several trade shows she has attended in the last year. She says she would like to work with more companies to carry her lines of bags, accessories and paddle boards.
Despite the learning curve of starting and operating her own business, Fylyshtan says talking to people and getting their ideas has really helped her improve the products she designs and manufactures, ensuring her customers have their best possible experience when they head outdoors.
Given the company is named after her dog, it’s no surprise animals are near and dear to her heart, and an important part of her business is being able to give back to the community through her support for animal charities.
Riley Outdoors has already helped with a fundraiser for the Critteraid Animal Sanctuary in the south Okanagan that raised $2,100 and during the recent Kelowna Home Show donated 5% of its sales at the show to help Paws It Forward, a dog rescue in Kelowna. At a Calgary outdoors show, it donated 5% of its sales there to an animal rescue in Calgary.
The company also donates to several animal charities through its day-to-day business.
Five percent of all purchases from its website go to animal welfare charities, including Critteraid, Paws It Forward, the Okanagan Human Society and CB Rescue in Calgary. The website includes links if customers want to donate directly to any of them.
“Donating to animal charities is a great way to support organizations that work towards the well-being of animals,” says the company on its website. “Animals play an important role in our world and they deserve to be treated with compassion and care.”
The charities the company supports help to provide medical care, food and shelter to animals in need.
Fylyshtan said the charities chosen to work with help make an impact on the animals “in our backyard.”
Riley Outdoors is currently offering a promotion, buy any paddle board and get a bonus Yellow 30l waterproof backpack, valued at $129.99. Promo code "yellowpack."
To view the products Riley Outdoors sells go to rileyoutdoors.ca.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.