Cairn, the Bend-based subscription box company for outdoor lovers, is nearing its first birthday — and it’s full-speed ahead. In the past few months the startup has hired brand expert Bill Inman, previously with ExOfficio, Merrell and Nike, and set up new nonprofit partnerships. Along the way, the company has also garnered a few thousand box subscribers.

Thanks to the latter, the operation has officially outgrown CEO and founder Rob Little’s garage.

Thats a lot of boxes.
That’s a lot of boxes.

Here’s the skinny:

— Inman, most recently the director of design and product development at ExOfficio in Seattle, is now helping Cairn build relationships with brands and curate products. He’s also an official Bendite, having moved here last fall. “Coming from the brand side, I can see the value (Cairn’s) model has for businesses,” he says.

Cairn is looking to finalize new warehouse and office space in Bend within the next month. They’ve been talking with Maker’s Mill about sharing space, and have also tested a warehouse in SE Bend.

— The company is hiring Abilitree, a Bend nonprofit that provides jobs, training, community service and independent living opportunities for people with disabilities, to help pack their boxes each month. Yesterday was a flurry of activity as workers readied Cairn packages for shipment.

Jane Utzinger, an Abilitree life skills trainer, puts the final touches on a Cairn package.
Jane Utzinger, an Abilitree life skills trainer, puts the final touches on a Cairn package.

— Cairn became a member of the Conservation Alliance, and plans to donate a portion of its revenue to the organization.

You may recall that beyond providing a box of outdoor goodies to subscribers each month, the company also collects a lot of customer data for the brands that provide products. Additionally, Little says about 30% of the products they send out get reviewed by users, which is something the brands they work with really dig. Most brands are used to a review rate of less than 1%, Little says.

Our #50startups grow up so fast. (Sniff).

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at or

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley