By Brett Farrell
As I walked out of the airport into the humid air of Guangzhou, I felt the buzz from entering a completely foreign place and the realization that I was here living my dream to develop running gear— a dream that began in 2013 with an idea for a trail running brand called Territory.
It has been a long process of learning, from our first Territory cotton graphic t-shirt back in March of 2014 to our first order of our own manufactured technical running gear this summer. I have been going at a pace that has felt right— slightly cautious with just enough of dreamy entrepreneur recklessness needed to make things happen.
I felt it was time to take it to the next level and go to Asia to start sourcing products this past March. It was a huge help to have Territory’s first employee, Jordan Carey, on board to give me the confidence to make the leap over to Asia. He had spent a lot of time in China developing product for another company but this was my first trip.
We were in the third largest city in the country, only a couple hours by train from Hong Kong and we were instantly feeling the excitement despite being sleep deprived after 23 hours of travel.
During our week in Guangzhou, I learned a ton about manufacturing abroad, product development, that we should have learned how to ask, “where’s the bathroom?" before we arrived, and that Chinese MTV still plays music videos (and they are awesome).
We learned to adapt to cultural differences, most of which revolved around eating. Like when we were instructed to consume pizza with a plastic glove to keep the grease off our hands.
Jordan keeping his hands grease free
And when we discovered the art of another type of pacing— the pace of eating during a meal with our hat manufacturer contacts, Claire and Judy. We were politely shamed for leaving food on the table after reaching our stomach's capacity at minute 25 of an hour long relentless bombardment of incredible food.
But perhaps, the most interesting finding was that China was nothing like I expected. We have all heard stories about China and its factories and it was a must for me to go there and investigate. I learned that manufacturing for the outdoor apparel industry in China has changed drastically in recent years. And seeing it first hand helped me understand that it really is far better than I imagined.
The factory conditions were pristine and their attention to detail exceeded our standards. We spent a week in Guangzhou working nonstop on our hats and they tackled all of our requests for alterations again and again until we were satisfied.
By the time we left, we ended up with our first hat that Jordan and I designed from scratch— inspiration and ideas coming from our community and our own experiences in running and travel.
The final products are The Loowit Trucker Hat and Gorge Cap —hats made for the run and for travel. So light and soft you will barely notice you are wearing it, crush-able so you can pack in your bag without concern of it being deformed and a fit that accommodates all styles.
We aim to keep our steady, cautious pace with just a touch of reckless. We will make some leaps, listen to our customers and keep moving forward to deliver products that solve problems and make your run more enjoyable.
Thank you for being along for the ride.