When Jaye Genung grew frustrated with the various heated apparel items she tried to combat her intolerance to the cold, she decided to take matters into her own freezing hands. She created a company to design and manufacture versatile and stylish products for women, those with Raynaud’s phenomenon and all others who need to combat the cold. It was the industry’s first heated product line targeting women and the variety of roles they each play.
“I was always cold from the time I was a child,” Jaye recalled. “Being in a swimming pool was intolerable. I was missing out on a lot of activities with my friends and family because I was always freezing.” She didn’t seek medical treatment because she didn’t realize her intolerance was abnormal. “I thought maybe I was just complaining more than others,” said the then single mother of two.
In 2015, her partner—now husband—gifted her a battery-heated jacket. Its heat system was powered by a low-capacity and bulky battery pack that was inconveniently located in her lower back. “It was especially inconvenient for driving, outdoor concerts or really any seated event. Also, it was heavy and more utilitarian than stylish,’ she recalled, ‘really a man’s jacket for women.”
Other heated jackets she tried had the same issues. Most heated items were designed for men working or playing outdoors—with very limited sizes, styles, fit, and color options. “The heated apparel market had long been plagued by a one-size-fits-all approach,” said the 44-year-old entrepreneur, a product development specialist who worked her way up in corporate Utah. The proverbial “soccer moms,” professional women and those with medical issues like Raynaud’s were largely ignored, she noted.
“I felt like these manufacturers had missed an opportunity. The concept was great, but it was poorly executed. I knew I could do it better.”
Thus, in 2016, she founded what would become Gobi Heat®. Then based in the Rocky Mountains of Utah, the company is now headquartered in Colorado. The company was named after the Gobi Desert that spans Mongolia and China—where temperatures range from 122ºF in the summer to as low as -27ºF in the winter. As the company website notes, the Gobi Desert reminds us of the importance of being prepared for anything and everything that comes our way.
“I made a conscious effort to design stylish products specifically for women and their tastes, rather than making a “woman’s version” of a men’s heated jacket commonly seen in the industry at the time,” she said. The washable jacket, coats, vests and hoodies feature a far slimmer, lightweight and more efficient battery that powers conductive-thread heat zones built into the chest and back. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 hours, features a battery level indicator, and will also allow you to charge your phone. Gobi Heat’s heated apparel all has three levels of control: low, medium and high. The extensive line also includes an array of gloves, socks, hats, base layers, and camping and construction gear designed for women and men with a wide variety of needs and lifestyles.
While Jaye doesn’t have a medical explanation for her aversion to the cold, she readily understands the issues facing the Raynaud’s community. Soon after her company was founded, she learned about Raynaud’s from male co-workers and customers who told her their wives and girlfriends loved what Gobi Heat’s products offered them. Gobi Heat’s team added a beanie to the product line designed specifically with Raynaud’s sufferers in mind. The gloves and glove liners, for example, have the heating elements reaching up to the fingertips, where Raynaud’s pain is the worst. Other heated gloves on the market confine the heating element to the palms.
Today, 60 percent of the company’s customers are women—those with Raynaud’s, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and other health challenges—plus those who simply crave stylish warmth and comfort indoors and out. “Our apparel gives back control and freedom in cold temperatures,” Jaye says. “We want our customers to be able to say yes to activities that they normally would have avoided because of the cold. We want our customers to be excited to go outside!”
Editor’s Note: We share Jaye’s enthusiasm for Gobi Heat’s heated product line targeting women, Raynaud’s sufferers and others who’ve been challenged finding warmth and comfort in the cold. For more information about Gobi’s heated apparel, see our product review page, or go to www.gobiheat.com.