- Company: Pettet Endurance Project | Makers of: Merino wool running apparel
- Founded: May 2014 | Headquartered In: Seattle, WA
- Prize Drawing: The Pettet Endurance Project is giving away two FREE pieces of merino running gear to the Gametiime community! Click here for your chance to win and don’t delay! Winners will be announced next Wednesday (10/15) at 4pm PT.
Pettet Endurance Project is a new merino wool apparel company based out of Seattle, WA. They focus on providing the highest-quality merino wool apparel for today’s runner, with all their goods carefully cut and sown in the US, and by turning the traditional apparel business model on its head. We had the awesome privilege of chatting with Greg Poffenroth, Founder of PEP, who gave us a glimpse into the company’s history, differentiators, and next moves. Read more about the running apparel company below!
Tell us a little about the company. Where did it start, how long has it been around, and how many people are in it? We officially launched PEP in May of 2014, but it’s been a labor of love for over two years at this point. You’d be surprised at how much effort goes into even the simplest of garment designs (I certainly was!) and when you are building gear that is different than industry norm, timelines seem to extend even further. We kicked around quite a few ideas when we started, but there were a few things that have been non-negotiable since the very beginning:
We wanted to use domestic manufacturing in every way possible. “Made in the USA” isn’t just a fad for us, it’s a deeply rooted belief and a cornerstone of our business. It isn’t always easy, and it is certainly more expensive, but in our eyes the cost is justified for the quality we are able to create. Plus, it just plain feels good to support local.
We wanted to be good stewards for the running community. To us, that not only means building the best and most innovative merino apparel around, it also means finding ways to sell that gear at lower prices. We didn’t want our investments in the product to be a burden for our customers (like the fact that we use domestic manufacturing). That’s why we choose to sell everything directly through our website or at race expos. It allows us to cut out the retail middleman, and sell a better product for less.
We wanted to give back to the environment in meaningful ways. That’s why we’ve become part of 1% For The Planet, an organization that helps us donate 1% of all company revenues to an environmentally-friendly non-profit. To us, it’s simple. We spend most all of our time outdoors as endurance athletes. It only makes sense that we work to preserve the trails we love to run on.
What inspired you to make the Pettet Endurance Project? I was inspired by many things, really. But most of all I was inspired to create a company with soul. I suppose that sounds overly philosophic, but there weren’t any apparel brands in this space that spoke to me as a person. Most of them are primarily focused on shoes, and I was never excited about the fit and finish of their apparel. So we saw an opportunity to build something different. To use a different business model, to focus on quality, and to focus on finding ways to give back to the running community.
What is the meaning behind the name? I grew up in Spokane, Washington. If you haven’t been to Spokane, it’s a great town, and home of one of the largest timed road races in the world: Bloomsday.
Bloomsday is a 12K with 55,000 runners every May. Aside from the sheer volume of athletes, the race also brings in some incredible international talent and offers a difficult course to boot. There’s a hill about 2/3 of the way into the race called “Doomsday Hill,” and it’s a beast. It runs for 3/4 of a mile and averages about 7% grade. As a kid, I used to watch thousands of athletes churn up this hill year after year, and it ultimately become a place where races were won or lost for the elite, and a place where goals were met or missed for the rest of us that didn’t have an opportunity to win.
The actual street name of Doomsday Hill is Pettet Drive. And to me it represents the grit, determination, and opportunity we have as endurance athletes.
Can you tell us a little about your background and what you were doing before starting Pettet Endurance Project? The funny thing is, I didn’t have a background in apparel prior to starting PEP. But, outdoor gear is something that I’ve been passionate about for a long time, so I was eager to set a solid foundation for the company and do things the right way from the beginning. It took years of research, pitching my idea to anyone that would listen with industry expertise, and support from some incredible partners to make this happen.
Before starting PEP, I was in advertising. I focused mostly in digital marketing, loyalty programs, and e-commerce. If you look at it from the highest level, PEP is a combination of what I’m most passionate about (running) and the skills I’ve been sharpening throughout my career in advertising.
Can you share one good story about how Pettet Endurance Project came to be what it is today? Our “big” opening weekend last May almost wasn’t. We planned to launch this year at the Bloomsday Expo, but our first production run wasn’t done just days before the race. Our factory was great, and got everything done just in time, but we ended up having to drive to our factory in Oregon, pick up our gear, and drive directly to Spokane. We spent something like 14 hours on the road, and just barely made it in time for the expo to open. If we didn’t make it or our first run of gear wasn’t done, I don’t know what would’ve happened but I can only assume it would’ve involved some sort of stress-induced dance party in our booth.
We’ve learned to roll with the punches, be patient, and have a hell of a lot of fun creating something new.
As much as you are willing to share, what lies ahead for Pettet Endurance Project? At this point, we’re mostly focused on growth. Growth in two areas, really. The first is growth of our line. We have quite a few products lined up for release in the next year including a men’s and women’s half-zip top, a few pairs of merino shorts, and some other super-secret items that we are prototyping.
The other area of growth is in our customer base. We have amazing customers who have shared stories about how they’ve used their PEP gear in incredible ways. One woman recently ran the Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run in PEP, which is awesome. What we’re working on, though, is spreading the word and those stories.
We’ve been featured in a few national publications like Runner’s World recently, and have a few more lined up in the next few months, which is exciting for us. Our plan is to use that momentum and start to advertise in ways that supplement the word-of-mouth growth we’ve experienced to date.
Anything else you would like to share with the Gametiime community? We are a young company, and we’re always looking to improve. If any of you have ideas on what you’d like to see from us in the future, we’d love to hear them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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