“My major was ‘in-tents’” jokes Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education major and Brevard College Alumnus, Colin Watkins ‘04.
Originally from Greenville, SC, Colin came to Brevard to go to college and never left. During his time as a student, Colin recalls that he and other classmates started a cycling club that predated the current National Championship winning collegiate team. He laments that he missed out on competing with the Division I team, but is glad he and fellow students started the club and feels a sense of pride when he sees “BC” on the athlete’s jerseys.
Colin credits the WLEE program with preparing him for his career as an entrepreneur and owner of Hiker and the Hound, a successful outdoor equipment store in Cedar Mountain, NC. “Being able to take any situation and apply it – they call it gleaning, everything about the WLEE program prepared me for what I do now.” Of Brevard College as a whole, Colin said, “Being at BC in such a small, tight knit community – I wanted to apply the same sense to the business, building relationships with our community.”
After graduating from Brevard College, Colin started Black Mountain Gear in 2006. And in 2020 when businesses were being shut down due to COVID-19, Colin and his fiancé started Hiker and the Hound. They wanted to use local vendors and today, 80% of their products come from local artisans with whom they have built relationships. They sell hiking essentials and more, everything someone might need for an outdoor lifestyle – from vendors like Pisgah Hemp and Black Mountain Gear to Green Moose Fuel and Sylvan Sports gear. They work with a local potter who crafts food grade coffee mugs that are dishwasher safe, one of which Colin sips coffee from daily.
As a WLEE major and Brevard College graduate, Colin internalized the emphasis on community and a love for the magnificent outdoor adventure opportunities Brevard and the surrounding areas have to offer. Colin used his Brevard College education, turning his passion for the outdoors and sense of community into not one, but two, successful business ventures.