I want to show you something — the first T-shirt we ever designed way back in 2009.
It's pretty bad. Embrassing, really.
I literally threw together a few boards in my backyard in Colorado and snapped a picture. The T-shirt itself was a $6 generic you could buy online. And the camera was a cheap digital — notice the really bad lighting and yellowish tint.
Buffalo Jackson was born out of my dream of building a clothing company that would restore an authentic masculinity to our closets, replacing a more feminized style I had seen in our culture. I was trying to bring back historical elements, outdoor inspiration and better quality and design: I wanted to change the clothing industry.
And this is what it looked like — a really bad T-shirt. The hardest part about dreaming is when you start to live in them. When we own our dreams, when we suffer to see them come to life, they often begin just like this bad pocket-tee. The word passion in Greek, its very origin, literally means suffering. When we begin to move ahead with a passion, a dream, it very often leads us to suffer. That’s why most dreams remain dreams forever. We’re not willing to bear the suffering. Notice how everyone has an idea — a book they want to write, a business they want to start, a government policy that would fix Washington and make all of our lives better.
For most of us, those visions are clear. And if it all happened in a moment, it would work. But the first words on the page usually aren’t very good. Startups lose a lot of money. Politics requires years of interning and grunt work. So most of us stop.
Buffalo Jackson is about to release our 2015 Fall collection for retail stores to preview. I am absolutely overwhelmed by our extraordinary team’s amazing execution of these products, and our suppliers working so hard to bring these together. We’ve had months of team meetings, product development and design. Photographers and graphic designers are now putting together glimpses of the product for us to share. The details are absolutely stunning: Handcrafted elements, unique designs, supreme waxed canvas materials and hours put into getting the right sizing and fit.
Here are a few products coming soon…
It feels like the dream after five years is starting to take shape. But when I look at what we’re rolling out, I just think back to our first T-shirts. I had a dream to create a clothing company. But that awful shirt was all I could afford. I can remember looking at some of our competitors and thought, “How will we ever get there?” But we had to sell those shirts to get to the next level. One shirt at a time, one product at a time, each day was a step to what the dream was about. While I can’t claim I understand how we got here, I do think it had to do with that vision. For some, the dream has to be perfect on the first round. I wish it worked like that. But I’ve come to believe you start with what you have, you make improvements and grow into it. You chisel your suffering into the dream you finally see.
I am so deeply grateful for the years of selling what we had, even when it needed improvement, so we could earn our way into what we want to become. We aren’t there yet, but this dream is taking shape. Our brand is a slow build, day by day, year by year, one product at a time. We learn and get better. Isn’t that how we as individuals develop as well? We are shaped in time by the people, the surroundings and the experiences we encounter. We grow into the man or woman we see and admire and want to be. It takes years, suffering and breakthroughs. Passion means suffering — the willingness to endure.
Hold onto wild dreams. But ask yourself this question, too: What are you willing to accept and suffer through to one day see it fulfilled?