Dome, Sweet Dome
Entrepreneurs combine outdoor apparel with activism
By Dwain Hebda
Whoever thinks super heroes only exist in comic books never met Cody and Kellie Oden. The husband and wife team – a mild-mannered accountant and dental assistant, respectively, by day – slip into their camping and kayaking alter egos every weekend.
In fact, they spent so much time in the outdoors, they started to get a little bit protective of it. That’s how their fledgling outdoor gear company, Dome Life, came to hatch.
“It started out with us posting pictures on Instagram of the areas that we camped every weekend,” Cody said. “We’d just camp across the state and find things that nobody else could find. People found interest in the fact that we are finding amazing places that nobody knew about.”
“We thought we needed a name for it so we got Dome Life; Kellie came up with the name and I created the logo based off the dome tent design. That was our lifestyle every weekend staying in a dome tent, going on adventures.”
Dome Life went from a catchy handle to a brand name in much the same way. As the Odens traveled, they began to notice many otherwise beautiful spots marred by garbage and graffiti. Suddenly, everything about the venture clicked.
“We started talking about how, there’s a bunch of trash in some of these places we go to in rivers and waterways and out in the national forests, and nobody ever really does any cleanups,” Cody said. “So we’re like, let’s try to do some clothing sales to help promote the company and we can use some of the proceeds to help do cleanups across the state every quarter.”
Since formally launching Dome Life in September, the couple has curated a collection of outdoor-themed T-shirts and hats with a line of tents, bags and backpacks to come next year. The sparse, simple designs reflect their attitude that a decluttered life is a happy life.
“I was like, man, I’m not happy with a lifestyle of having to work to try to build up income to pay for more stuff I’m never going to use,” Cody said. “We were like, let’s be simple, and that’s where this started to spring, through simplicity.
“We’re starting out small and slow. We’re not taking out loans, we’re doing natural growth. When you buy, it helps us grow the company and we put more money back towards cleanups. We’re not trying to have a huge brand at first. We’re just trying to start small. The more important side to us is the cleanup, making people aware. The clothing side is just to help fund it.”
The couple may have streamlined their lives but narrowing their list of favorite places to visit in Arkansas is another story. Cody was hard-pressed to name just one excursion as his favorite. Big Piney Creek (Newton, Johnson and Pope counties) ranks high, as does South Fourche Lafave River (Perry and Yell counties) and Eagle Rock Loop (Pike County) near where he grew up. Richland Creek (Newton and Searcy counties), Sylamore Creek and the area around Fifty-Six (Stone County) are also on the list of spots he loves and wants to protect via the company’s mission.
“A lot of people don’t realize you can vacation every single weekend in Arkansas; it’s like a vacation all the time,” he said. “Arkansas is a gem of the South; actually, it’s a gem of the country. We travel all over and [Arkansas] has some of the cleanest, bluest water in the whole country. We have some of the cleanest lakes, our trail systems, our state parks are some of the best. It is amazing what Arkansas has.”
Keep up with Dome Life’s clean-up efforts on their Facebook page and check out their merchandise at domelife.camp.