Who We Are: MOG Outdoor Fest founder Jen Taylor does it all
A PERPETUAL VOLUNTEER
Besides Jen Taylor’s involvement with the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association and MOG Outdoor Fest, she’s held volunteer positions with KAFM 88.1 (Grand Valley’s community radio station) and Boy Scouts of America. She also supports Mesa Land Trust’s efforts through volunteer hours.
Taylor stressed the importance of being “mindful of your community as a citizen.”
Volunteering is “a privilege and a responsibility” she said. “Your community is only as good as you make it.”
Editor’s note: Who We Are is a regular series featuring men and women who embody the unique spirit of the Grand Valley. To nominate someone to be featured, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Taylor loves playing in the dirt.
A self-proclaimed tomboy, this mountain biker turned businesswoman moved to Grand Junction in the early 1990s — for its community, access to recreation, and family. And after years of dedication to the outdoors industry, she found her niche — working for Mountain Khakis (mountain-inspired lifestyle apparel) and as founder/organizer of Grand Junction’s MOG Outdoor Fest (set for Friday and Saturday, April 18-19).
“There’s such an incredible community here,” Taylor said. “There’s no other place I’d rather raise kids — the rivers, trails, and the people, coupled with access to open space and different types of recreation.
“It’s an inspiring place to live.”
ENTREPRENEUR TO THE BONES
From an early age, Taylor learned to make things happen for herself.
An extensive interest in cars, dirt bikes and four-wheelers (”anything off-road, motorized, mechanized — I rode it and jumped it,” she said) led to Taylor’s first business as a teen — Executive Detailing, which specialized in auto detailing.
“I was an entrepreneurial kid,” she said with a laugh. “I was 15, and couldn’t drive yet.”
But that didn’t stop her from learning how to “buff out a car” professionally and take on clients in Fort Wayne, Ind. Then when she got her driver’s license, she began providing on-site detailing for her clients in executive office buildings, with a focus on Cadillacs and Jaguars.
“I had an employee by the time I was a senior in high school,” Taylor added.
The detailing business continued on well after Taylor moved to Colorado — first as a student at the University of Denver, then while living in Telluride as an expert-level mountain bike racer.
When Taylor moved to Grand Junction in 1993, she switched gears, looking toward a career in recreation-based outdoors apparel.
After stints working for Best on the Mountain, a GJ-based custom apparel shop, and the local DT Swiss plant (she helped start up its USA presence), the opportunity to buy BOTM came up in 1998. Taylor ran with it.
“She has a vision and she makes it happen,” Taylor’s sister Julie Rieke said. “She has more energy than anyone you’ve ever seen, and she never stops.
Rieke, Taylor, and their other sister Penny Rieke Arentsen, invested in the bare-bones operation together. With Taylor at the helm, they focused on a kids’ outdoor brand eventually trademarked as Mountain Sprouts.
“I wanted to design cool outdoor gear for my kids,” Taylor explained. “Better than what was out there, and with a mission to get kids and families outdoors.
“We were a women-owned company and a women-run company, which was rare in the industry at the time.”
And though Mountain Sprouts was a family business, Rieke said Taylor was its heart and soul from the beginning.
“She will never take no for an answer, and I know that comes from our mom,” Rieke added, chuckling. “She designed the clothes and she sewed everything in the beginning.”
At the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction for five years, Mountain Sprouts grew until it merged with Mountain Khakis in 2006 — http://www.mountainkhakis.com. Then Mountain Khakis merged with Remington Arms in 2010 — http://www.remington1816.com. The Mountain Sprouts kids’ component was set aside in 2009, Taylor added. However, she still remains actively involved as the brand/PR manager and creative director for Mountain Khakis. Since 2013, she’s also held the position of creative director for Remington Arms’ brand — 1816.
“It started with passion,” Taylor said. “You never know what life will unveil for you.”
MAKINGS OF MOG FEST
Throughout the same time period, another vision came to Taylor — to create an outdoors manufacturers forum as a way to sell overstocks — which kickstarted in 2002. In 2003, MOG Outdoor Fest was born. It’s currently heading into its 11th year. It runs as both a gear festival and a fundraising mechanism for local nonprofits (including the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association through its Saturday Bike & Gear Swap).
“It’s stayed grassroots,” Taylor said. “I do it on nights and weekends. I want it to give back to the outdoor community.”
According to COPMOBA spokeswoman Amy Agapito, money raised through the MOG will go directly to COPMOBA’s local trail-building efforts.
“It was (Taylor’s) idea to start the COPMOBA Gear & Bike Swap as a fundraiser, and she’s incorporated that into MOG Fest seamlessly,” Agapito said.
Taylor has long been connected to COPMOBA through volunteer efforts — she formerly held a position on its board, and her husband Chris Muhr is a current board member (as well as a past president).
Taylor was also the visionary behind the Lunch Loops pocket bike park.
“She single-handedly made that happen,” Agapito said. “She has endless energy, and when she decides it’s important she’s unstoppable in her efforts to make it happen.”
For more information about MOG Outdoor Fest, visit http://www.mogoutdoorfest.com.
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