A Q&A with Azyre Gear's Founder, Cari Goss
Cari Goss is the owner and founder of Azyre Gear, a new to the industry women's hunting clothing company. With over 30 years of hunting experience, Cari is known for her amazing once-in-a-lifetime hunts all over North America and her love for sheep hunting.
For years, Cari felt that the hunting apparel industry has overlooked women. And after years and years of wearing a combination of men and women's hunting apparel that never fit how it should, she decided to create the most technically-driven hunting clothing system designed by women, for women.
I was fortunate to chat with Cari about her hunting background, favorite hunt, the inspiration behind her new line, her custom inseam length options and so much more.
Meet the founder and owner of Azyre Gear, Cari Goss
goHUNT: What overarching or prominent gaps did you see in the hunting industry in regards to female hunters and their limited hunting clothing options that led you to create Azyre Gear?
Cari Goss: There are good pieces available from other brands. However, I wanted more for myself and other women. The outdoor elements can be harsh and women need to have the fit, function, warmth, durability and a style-savvy look in one complete system. The clothes I have worn over the years were a mix of all sorts of pieces from different companies, mainly men’s hunting apparel. While there are a lot more options for women’s products now than before and there are good pieces from other brands…I felt a warm layering system that fits all together without the bulk and weight made sense to me.
goHUNT: What has been the most inspiring thing with starting Azyre?
CG: Without a doubt, starting Azyre has been a true journey with so many amazing people. I had a vision that I felt was needed in the women's outdoor hunting world and Azyre's team was born — awesome people who listened to me and then helped me create Azyre. I am so grateful to my wonderful designer and product director and friend, Diane Sheehan-Egnatz, with her years of experience in outdoor apparel to help me complete my vision for Azyre.
We launched in January 2020 and I was so inspired to share Azyre with my best friends Cheryl, Natalie and Diane by my side. Each woman who came to the booth immediately became part of the Azyre Team and so many friendships were made. Their reactions, the things they would say and excitement on their faces when trying on all Azyre pieces was overwhelming and exhilarating. The days were long and I never got tired.
goHUNT: What sets Azyre apart from other hunting/outdoor clothing companies and what do you find them lacking?
CG: Azyre was born from my passion of 30 years of hunting and being outdoors during all four seasons. It’s different because we have a complete system of nine core pieces that fit together so you can look like a woman in the elements while also keeping warm and dry. Our custom camo print is functional yet still feminine. I have hunted in Alaska, Northwest Territories, the Yukon, British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Mexico on multiple hunts for multiple species and field-tested my clothing in all the elements of North America. My love for sheep hunting has taken me to some of the most remote places in North America. These regions can and will produce extreme weather conditions, so it is very important to me to have gear that will perform as well as keep you warm and dry while hunting in extreme conditions.
After three years of testing in all types of weather and terrain, I can say with confidence that Azyre is the best clothing I have worn in the outdoors. The defining moment for Azyre was in the Yukon while on a Dall sheep hunt. My well-known sheep guide from North Curl Outfitters, Mac Watson, and I had endured days of rain, sleet and snow and I had been warm and dry the entire time on the mountain. On the eighth day of the hunt, we faced 50 mph winds mixed with blowing snow and my guide told me we needed to get lower down on the mountain to find shelter. When we arrived back at camp he asked me if I had been cold during the hunt so far and I responded that I had been warm and dry the entire time. He was so impressed with Azyre Gear that he later bought the entire system for his wife. He also told me how impressed he was with the way the pattern blended into the terrain. He had a difficult time spotting me and we were never far apart from each other.
goHUNT: What trends are you and Azyre as a whole striving to set in the hunting industry?
CG: My goal for Azyre is to have loyal, dedicated and genuine women who love the outdoors with a true passion for who they are while wearing the Azyre apparel. Knowing that Azyre will give women confidence to get outdoors and achieve their dreams would make me very happy.
goHUNT: What are some things that you’d like female hunters to know about Azyre?
CG: I built Azyre Gear apparel for them. I knew there was a need and someone had to do it. With my faith, I was able to accomplish it and now, I am so excited to share it with everyone.
goHUNT: How long have you been hunting and when did you go on your very first hunt?
CG: I started bird hunting with my dad when I was nine years old. I wasn't old enough to harvest at that time, but enjoyed spending quality time together. I immediately fell in love with the outdoors while respecting what Mother Nature has to offer. When I was 15, I finally completed my hunter's safety. I would go with my friends to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming to hunt with whoever had a tag — just to go and enjoy the hunt. Then I met the love of my life, Leo, in 1997 and we got married the following year in 1998. Leo is an awesome hunter who has really taught me how to be a great spot and stalk hunter. We have built our life around the outdoors and whenever we have a chance to go hunting, we do it.
goHUNT: What is your most memorable hunt and why?
CG: What comes to mind as my most memorable hunt is my Utah bighorn sheep hunt. On this hunt, I achieved my first grand slam. I had endured the physical, emotional and difficult terrain your feet, legs and back go through and experienced overwhelming emotions of joy with tears running down my face that I had accomplished my goal. All of those hunts spent hiking up so many mountains when you are literally out of breath and your legs are put to the test, at times, you feel like giving up. I always say a little prayer to God to help push me to the top. Once I got to the top, the views were breathtaking and I forgot about all the pain my body was feeling right at that moment. So worth it. I just stood there for a moment in awe of how beautiful the mountain range was. I recall thinking there are not many people who are able to see this. I was so grateful for all its beauty. The amazing people you meet along the way are embraced as friends for a lifetime that put their bodies and minds through the same. Then, when the time comes and you are able to make the appropriate shot and harvest an amazing animal...with my husband by my side. I was crying while everyone else had tears in their eyes. This is what makes my Utah bighorn sheep hunt so memorable.
goHUNT: What has been your most physically and mentally demanding hunt in your life so far?
CG: The most physically and mentally demanding hunt I believe I ever endured was my 17-day hunt in British Columbia Stone sheep. The last day we were trailing out and saw a grizzly bear. I had a tag just in case and was able to stalk and harvest that bear on the very last day. It poured rain all day, making the climb to get a close enough shot very hard. I got very wet in my layers. The rock ledge had a little vegetation and the rain made it slippery to climb straight up. It was also the hunt where I knew that I needed to create a women's outdoor apparel line.
I hiked many difficult mountains with blisters on the back of my heels — created on the third day of that 17-day hunt. From there, I relied on my faith to keep me hiking with a positive attitude that I could do it. The weather was a combination of variables and you never knew what it was going to be like the next day. We had cool days, rainy days, sunshine days and a majority of the days were cold and windy. The apparel that I was wearing did not have the right fit, functionality and capability to handle the extreme terrain and weather we were facing.
Out of the 17 days of riding horses and hiking around anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day, it tests you mentally as well. From the aches and pains you endure to the willow branches hitting all over the outside of your legs causing bruises while horseback riding an average of six hours a day. By the time we returned to camp, each night while laying on the ground feeling your muscles spasm and ache, your feet feeling like they are on fire. Just to have a little sleep to get up early and do it all over again until you can find a nice legal ram to get a chance at. There were lots of days we were not seeing any or not big enough rams; you wonder if your body can endure another day of it. Whenever I had any doubts that would creep into my head, I would say a prayer: all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.
Immediately, I would get a positive attitude and remember if there is a will there will always be a way. When the time came, I saw my Stone sheep ram hiking down this steep rock and shale-covered mountain side. Game time. Whenever I took a step, the ground would move and it was all I could do not to fall. Coming up on the big ram, I remembered how beautiful he was with his dark charcoal hide, white belly and white stripes going down the back of his legs and butt. Looking back up on the mountain we’d just climbed was awe-inspiring realizing we had just come over three mountain ranges. There are so many beautiful places in the world and, as I sat there with my ram, I realized at that moment sheep hunting was my passion.
goHUNT: What could other hunting/outdoor clothing companies, who mostly carry men's gear and a small selection of women's gear, learn from you and your company?
CG: I feel brands should be who they are and have values that best represent the reasons behind them and their business. Every business has a particular reason they designed what they did and should be proud of it. I know, after so many years of building Azyre, I kept thinking of these words: inspire, vision, believe, achieve, accomplish and conquer, which are the key foundations that Azyre was created upon.
goHUNT: What do you find the most difficult part of running a new women’s hunting clothing company in today's growing hunting industry?
CG: My team and I just launched Azyre in January of this year. There were so many hunting events that I wanted to attend so I could showcase my apparel, but, with everything going on, unfortunately, a lot of them were cancelled. I always look at the positive, There is a reason that all of this happened and Azyre apparel will have its time and place when it's meant to be. I am very blessed I was able to launch at the Sheep Show in Reno and attend the Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City. I was able to show so many wonderful women my Azyre Gear at those two places. Every day, my team would start out with a prayer and it would end up being something special. The doors would open to the public and we would meet so many wonderful people.
goHUNT: What is your all-time favorite piece of gear in your line and why?
CG: I love every piece that we designed for a particular reason. The one that sticks out in my mind is the Hybrid Hoodie as it is the most versatile piece in our system. The Hybrid has a lightweight, soft, cozy feeling that works for all four seasons. From cool and windy summer evenings to cold early mornings in the spring, the Hybrid is a must-have. The Hybrid also works for the winter season as a layer in between the grid fleece and down hoodie jacket. It’s also really fashionable so you look good wearing it everyday. Since it is very practical and useful in all types of weather, I decided to provide four color options (camo with black fleece, solid black with camo fleece, lichen with black fleece, and lichen with camo fleece).