You know us for our technical gi designs and obsessive attention to detail. However, how many of you know about what goes on behind the scenes in producing a jiu jitsu gi? Who are the people who created the gis that we train 3-4 times a week in?
Let me tell you a story about a young boy with a dream. In the late 80s, John grew up in a small village in the mountainous regions of Hunan province, China. He had a dream of creating something that mattered, even though he wasn't clear on what that "something" was to be. He also knew that he had break the mold set by his village generations ago to achieve his dreams. While his peers were content with hanging out, drinking, and gambling, John saved up money he earned from side jobs over the years and headed north to attend university in Jilin province, near the China-North Korea border.
After two years of university, he met his first of many setbacks, as he ran out of money to afford tuition. Not one to be phased by adversity, he took this as a sign that it was time to join the garment industry to gain working experience. Without missing a beat, he travelled south to join a factory in Anhui province for a large athletic apparel factory, where he honed the craft of technical garment design.
At the age of 25 and with only a few dollars in his pocket, he moved to the city of Dongguan, Southern China’s manufacturing hub, with a goal of broadening his skills with hopes of pursuing his childhood dream of something that mattered. It was around this timeframe that I first started communicating with John while looking for jiu jitsu gi factories in Dongguan. He taught me volumes of technical information about garment manufacturing. We worked together to improve my gi design over the span of two years. While working together, I had expressed interest in creating hemp products, and he had told me that he shared my vision of a future where sustainable products are the norm rather than the exception. Sustainable products, he realized, was that "something that mattered" that he had been searching for since he was a young boy.
In 2014, with backing from investors and an unstoppable entrepreneurial drive, he made the big leap of opening his own garment factory. After countless 16 hour workdays of talking to investors, cutting government red tape and vetting the highest quality suppliers, he is now finally producing the highest quality hemp garments in the world. He is committed to creating sustainable products, and more specifically hemp jiu jitsu gis, as his life's work. With a shared vision of producing sustainable products, John and I will be working tirelessly to produce and promote environmentally responsible garments that ultimately just "make sense" in this day and age where sustainability is the key to our future.
Often times when we think of a product, we don’t consider what happens behind the scenes to deliver the product to you. How often do we hear the stories of struggle, triumph over adversity, and unrelenting drive to achieve a dream? Join us on this tenacious young man’s journey by making his dreams of moving the sustainable textiles industry forward a reality. John and I are committed to creating a more sustainable future - will you join us on this mission?