Published: Dec. 4, 2019 By

dave schaeffer himaliMeet Dave Schaeffer, a Leeds alumni and founder of HIMALI, a Colorado Mountaineering Brand with roots in The Himalaya. HIMALI was founded in 2014 by Dave and legendary 13-time Everest summiteer and IFMGA climbing guide, Tendi Sherpa.

Launching a company

Dave graduated from Leeds School of Business in 2011 and immediately embarked on an around the world adventure. He met his co-founder, Tendi, at the base camp of Aconcagua in Argentina. Dave was soloing the peak and Tendi was guiding a group. Dave says he had been brainstorming the brand for a few years when the two crossed paths. He knew he wanted to partner with a sherpa and Tendi stood out in a big way. 

“Tendi is an amazing combination of talent and compassion.”

Tendi grew up without shoes until he was 13. He speaks 8 languages despite never having been able to attend school, and he now sends 23 children to school (on his own account, not through HIMALI). “I think his experiences lend to his outlook on life and an eagerness to give back. It’s what makes him such a great leader, people know he’s capable but also trust him. He’d literally give you the shirt off his back.” 

A brand that gives back

Dave knew he was jumping into a saturated market, but wanted to build a brand that not only sold a high-quality line of products, but more importantly, a brand that could give back to Nepal. He fell in love with Nepal during his travels and his co-founder Tendi, is Nepalese. HIMALI donates five percent of their net proceeds to supporting schools and fueling initiatives that provide clean water in the Himalayan region.

“There are a lot of other great jackets out there, but I want our customers to feel a connection to both our products and our brand. I think we do that in a more modern way than some of our competitors.”

Dave says HIMALI prides themselves on their design and materials, and the feedback they're getting seems to confirm they’re headed down the right path. 

Industry recognition

As the company hits milestones and grows, they’ve been able to do new things and work with new partners. When the brand first started, partnering with the top materials suppliers wasn’t an option. HIMALI is now being recognized for making great, high-quality jackets. “Industry titans are starting to believe in us. We’re now able to use the best materials out there, one’s we didn’t have access to before,” Dave says.

In six years, HIMALI has reached over 30 countries and “the top” of all 7 continents. 

Advice to current students

“Think really hard before you jump into an endeavor. It will be harder than you thought, but you’ll find support in places you wouldn’t expect. This route is full of sacrifice, but also full of reward.” 

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