What does it take to build a serious following? The kind of company that customers will go out of their way to participate in? It’s made of good shit, not bullshit.
This summer, at the spritely age of 54, I went on my first boys’ trip. A boys trip, like its sister the girls’ trip, is a tried-and-true ritual where we all go off and do some fun activity and then do a lot of drinking. It’s a classic that I’d never put myself out to experience before.
Our trip was a bike festival in Aspen Colorado hosted by Yeti Cycles, called Tribe. Four of us, all men who ride Yeti mountain bikes, joined 396 other Yeti owners, most of whom were dressed in something that had turquoise in it (the signature colour), for a long weekend of beer, bikes and bonding.
The Tribe Gathering we attended was the 17th. The company, based just outside of Golden, has managed to hold on to its boutique bohemian ethos, for the entire time. Their racers sit atop podiums for the elite races going on around the world and the members of the tribe hold onto the brand with cult-like exuberance. Tania bought a non-Yeti three years ago and then sold it to buy her first the year later. She felt left out. Community seems to be a value, not just a marketing strategy.
When the owners of a business stand for something customers take a stand for them. I got to speak to the wife of the founder at this event and asked a few nosy questions about their intentions for the future. I like that they plan to stay true to their roots and avoid the starry-eyed world of lucrative sell-outs and private equity. They have built the brand on something other than bullshit and I am impressed that there seems to be some backbone to keep it that way. Money is an easy thing to grab but a spine is priceless. Also friendship is a pretty valuable thing worth fighting for. Pure and simple.