I wanted to make the lightest and highest performing Mountain Hunting clothing possible. I wanted to create a brand that stood for uncompromised quality, uncompromised performance, and where the whole process, the design and technology and sourcing, are shared with the consumer. From my experience at Sitka I knew this idea wasn’t viable or realistic within the existing retail model—everything I wanted to make would just cost too much. So I thought, why not bypass the retailer, why not take the middle-man out of the process and move everything one step closer to the customer. By selling online direct we could make the best products, keep the prices down and manage, to our standards, every aspect of the customer experience.
So I started Kuiu. And I started blogging about the process on a blog called Building Kuiu. I was already interested in transparency and making real connections with customers so I thought, maybe I’ll write about what it takes to build a company and get it off the ground from the start, all the decisions that have to be made, etc. And the first day, I remember, we had 30 views and I was shocked. Someone had posted something on Bowsite about me, about how I had left Sitka and was starting a new company called Kuiu, and it just started from there. And then, I can’t remember exactly what post it was or what it was about, we hit 200 views in one day, and I realized that wow, this is working.
Eventually I started writing about researching and designing specific pieces in the line. I would share thoughts about each piece, like this is the fabric I’m thinking about using, or this is my target weight for this piece. Guys started commenting; with no solicitation they’d write in and say “hey, have you thought about this”, or “I like pockets here but not here”. I loved the input—it was encouraging, and more than that, it was really helpful. So more and more I started directly asking people for their opinions about specific things like camouflage for example. What did they want? Hoods, yes or no? PrimaLoft vs. down?
So more and more I decided that I’m going to share everything with the KUIU customer. I’m going to tell them as much as I know about the products, as much as I know about the fabrics, and as much as I can share about who makes each product and where they come from. I wanted total transparency. I never understood why, unless you have something to hide as a company, you don’t tell your customers who you’re buying from and how your making things. I have nothing to hide. I want to invite the customer in and share what’s happening, from the insider perspective.