If you take a look back, our brand story began with an idea of a clothing line born out of a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming ten years ago. A place where rugged individualism and cowboy culture meet the towering Teton mountain range. A place so magical that being in and around the town and taking in the scenery will almost baptize you in all of the elements of nature if you let it.
In all honesty, the idea for Buffalo Jackson didn’t start just in Wyoming. It began years earlier with three friends from the University of Tennessee while on spring break in Florida.
We were on the doorstep of college graduation about to embark on the next season of our lives. I wasn’t ready to graduate. I didn’t sense my preparedness and I wasn’t even sure of what career path to seek. I would probably say at twenty-two, I felt more boy than man.
We passed around a book one of us had brought called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. He told stories about how over many decades, we have begun to lose our sense of who we were as men. He wrote on how much of this was related to a lack of mentoring and fathering to young men. He also mentioned our culture’s modern conveniences and lack of initiation and testing and how he had begun to reclaim this sense of adventure he had lost by taking several expeditions out West. In this book, he included many stories of adventures with his sons in the Tetons outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
As we all read, it began to awaken something in us all — a desire to dig into our souls in a deeper way to understand our identity. We all began to share stories about this unfinished part of us and what we felt was missing in our lives. This journey to the soul really began to resonate with me. As I read John Eldredge’s stories of the West, and more so, the way a man is to be “initiated” into life, it spoke to me — especially the appreciation of nature and the value of hard work. I felt like I needed that. Reading stories about Teddy Roosevelt from a century earlier and what drove him into adventure and the outdoors, I had to confess I didn’t have a ton of that in my life. I had some great lessons in life, but there was this side of me that was aching for what I felt was missing.
And so, my journey into the brand really began there with that book on a Florida beach. It was reading someone else’s story and wondering if that story could be my own. If somehow there was something still needed in my life to help me with this transition into adulthood. It took me on a journey to ask deeper questions about what I was becoming and what kind of man I wanted to be.
I wanted more. I wanted to live that story. Eventually, I ended up moving to Colorado with my new bride to start our married life out West. It all happened rather quickly. That is when the story went from pages of a book to more of my own journey. I fumbled my way to a river to fly fish and ended up meeting some older fishing buddies who led me into their world of 40 years of fly fishing. I took a job working as a house painter which taught me what my college degree missed in the areas of hard work and physical labor. I began to become transformed like John Eldredge wrote in his book.
From there, I was inspired to start inviting other young men into that journey as well. I realized other men needed that same healing and transformation. I met a friend named Cory, who had some similar dreams to take young men deeper into who they really were. We invited them backpacking, fly fishing and other outdoor adventures. Through all this, we eventually started a non-profit, called Training Ground that became a summer leadership program that still continues today in Colorado.
It was on a trip to Jackson Hole with a group we were mentoring when the idea for the brand hit me. And so, that day a decade ago, Buffalo Jackson was born. It was out of that longing to step into more, find other brothers, and seek an understanding of who we were as men that drove me to pursue a new dream.
And so, when I think of our brand and our origin story, it was born in Wyoming. But in many ways, it also came about by a young man searching, trying to understand his place in the story that he found himself in. It was the result of a quest to find something deeper than all souls are in search of.
I think that is why Buffalo Jackson means so much to me. It is the representation of a story, that started with an unfinished man, reading a book on a beach, that ended in a place out west called Jackson Hole.