The Empowerful Podcast was created to share the profound stories of movers and shakers who are positively impacting the world. Together, we believe we can amplify that change. We live by the motto of an old African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Introducing our new Founders with Founder series. Join us as MiiR Co-Founders, Bryan & Rebecca Papé sit down with fellow small business owners to discuss their journey and uncover the human side of some of our favorite brands. In today’s episode, we are joined by Matt Taylor from Tracksmith. An independent running apparel brand with New England roots that strives to honor the amateur spirit of the running class. Today's discussion ranges from Matt's experience working directly with Usain Bolt, to the similarities between running a business and a marathon, to systemic injustice in America and what role brands have to play. If you are interested in running, small business tactics, or simply a quality conversation — make sure to tune in!
Tracksmith was designed to be different. In an era when most large companies were pushing neon high-performance athletic wear, Matt wanted something that felt more genuine. As a Yale graduate and long-time New Englander, Matt drew inspiration from the classic collegiate patterns of the region. With their subtle tones and timeless designs, Tracksmith pieces are designed to honor the amateur athlete dedicated to the pursuit of personal excellence. It is this niche that has allowed Tracksmith to grow and create a loyal customer base while other athletic brands face cut-throat competition for general market share.
Like a long and winding racecourse, Matt's journey to starting Tracksmith hasn't always been straightforward. After graduating from Yale with a degree in neurobiology, Matt found his passion filming a mini-documentary series of collegiate running programs training for race season. As his talent as a filmmaker grew, so did his subjects. His work took him to the streets of Kenya and the foothills of Colorado documenting some of the best distance runners in the world. The next leg of his journey involved a stint at Puma, where he quickly rose to become head of marketing for the running department. Along the way, he befriended a young cocky sprinter from Jamaica ready to take on the world. It wasn't long until the rest of the planet began to learn the legend of Usain Bolt. Matt found himself rounding the next turn to leave Puma and help develop the official Usain Bolt video game in anticipation of the 2012 Olympic games. As the Olympic hangover started to wear off, Matt was already deep in the midst of finding his second wind and building the brand he had always dreamed of, Tracksmith.
This podcast felt different. In the middle of recording, we all took an 8:46 moment of silence in memorial of the tragic killing of George Floyd. With so much going on in our country this year, it can be hard to know what role a brand has to speak up. We are inspired to look to Tracksmith and how they have been able to use their brand voice to help empower the black running community now and for years prior. Both MiiR and Tracksmith acknowledge that their needs to be systemic change in our country, and although neither of us has the answers, we are doing our best to listen, learn, and un/learn. When asked what role Tracksmith has to play in discussing political issues, Matt was quick to point out that this is not political but rather a human rights issue — plain and simple. As we as a brand double down on our commitment to actively seeking ways to empower people for a better future through anti-racism messaging and values, we will continue to dive into the uncomfortable topics and take steps towards learning how we can best be allies.