First, the site redesign is still in effect. I met with the designer yesterday and as the site says, it's moving forward. But, I didn't want to wait to get posting again, especially with a few more races under my belt since my last post. I'll get to those race reports shortly, but today I wanted talk about a conversation I had with a locally owned small running business I met at the end of Boston's Run to Remember Half Marathon.
As I was winding down after the race, I walked around the expo and noticed a booth called RUNFELLOW. They were selling technical shirts with positive running quotes, such as "I like your pace," and I thought it was a clever idea, so I struck up a conversation with Jillian D'Amato, the owner of RUNFELLOW. I learned the operation is locally run out of Boston suburb, Somerville and not only do they sell awesome shirts, a portion of each sale is donated back to combat breast cancer.
Since they are doing their part for the fellow runner, I thought I'd do my part and give Jillian the opportunity to tell you a little bit about RUNFELLOW.
1. What is RUNFELLOW?
JD: RUNFELLOW is a runner inspired grassroots performance gear company, created with a focus on motivating fellow runners. Think of it as a “hands free high-five”, a little extra boost for the person running past you. A momentary sense of acknowledgement between two people doing the same thing, most likely for different reasons. Whether it’s to help them complete their first mile or cross the finish line of their 26th, it’s about recognizing that we’re all in it together regardless of goal or ability.
2. What is the story behind the name?
JD: It came to me on the last mile, the idea of RUNFELLOW that is. I was running along Boston’s Charles River, crossing the Longfellow Bridge (iconic with Bostonians & runners alike), when the idea bulb lit. I was struggling to keep my pace - to get myself back home, trying to resist my internal urge to walk, when I passed a fellow runner who smiled at me. He must have felt for me. But that smile was all I needed; that silent, unspoken sense of encouragement from another runner, who at one point had been in my sneakers (the ones just trying to finish a jog and get home). A fellow runner, crossing the Longfellow... a RUNFELLOW.
Boston's Longfellow Bridge
3. Who owns/runs the company?
JD: After a few years of sitting on the idea, sketching and pondering whether to launch the "brand" or not, I went for it. I realized the reason I was reluctant to take the leap (aside from having zero business or entrepreneurial experience) was because I wanted it to be a "perfect launch", which we all know does not exist. So with that in mind, I tackled it one step at a time; securing the domain name, having shirts made, spreading the word on social media and among friends and family. I just went for it. And now, ten months after having officially announced RUNFELLOW to the world, it's starting to gain some traction. I've been attending local races (with help from my amazing friends) and I'm building a community of RUNFELLOWs who are excited to motive their fellow runners and be a part of something positive.
4. What are RUNFELLOW's core beliefs?
JD: RUNFELLOW believes that running, being a basic human skill should not be reserved for the elite runner. Whether you're running to get in shape, fit into a wedding dress or train for that marathon you've always wanted to run; each and every person out there is doing the same thing, regardless of pace, form or gear. RUNFELLOW wants to recognize that all runners have those days when they need a little extra push, and our gear is designed to do just that. Acknowledgment and encouragement for your fellow runner and a community built on those beliefs.
5. In a clouded category such as athletic apparel, what makes RUNFELLOW different?
JD: RUNFELLOW's gear was created to build community by designing items you wear that others will read. It's about the message on the shirts, not about who has the most expensive sneakers or the sexiest spandex. RUNFELLOW's gear is sleek, well designed and fun but it's the message you choose to put on your body and motive your fellow runner with that sets RUNFELLOW apart from the pack.
6. What are your current products? What products are you expecting on the horizon?
JD: As a new brand, we have a limited line with the anticipation of expanding it as we grow. Currently available for sale on our website, our signature T-shirt reads " I LIKE YOUR PACE" on the front, RUNFELLOW on the back and the Longfellow Bridge (our logo) sketched on the sleeve. The T's are available in two colors (one with reflective ink for night running) and are offered in both Men's and Women's short sleeve, moisture wicking tech T-shirts. As the brand develops and evolves, I hope to add tanks, long sleeve and cold weather gear, headbands and accessories. With Summer quickly approaching tank tops are on the horizon and we're currently casting a vote on what the next shirt tagline should be.
Any pace is just fine by me.
7. How do you feel about the social nature of running? How is RUNFELLOW bringing the running community together?
JD: Urban running was the catalyst for the brand. Passing people on paths or streets, having interactions at crosswalks and traffic lights or jogging along the river and dodging geese together. But the idea and community behind RUNFELLOW evolved from the desire to make that unspoken bond between runners tangible. It’s hard to explain but easy to understand: Fellowship, motivation, encouragement. Why not help to spread this positivity even further? I couldn’t think of a reason not to and I couldn’t think of a city more running centric than Boston to do it. The idea may be simple, but what it’s representing is big; a community for runners of all abilities, to share their love (or momentary disdain) of running. We all have good running days and we all have bad. Runfellow’s here to help make the bad ones just a little bit more tolerable.
8. Where can readers find RUNFELLOW and its products?
JD: If you can't make it to a race we'll be selling gear at, check out
to not only shop RUNFELLOW gear, but to find a calender of events, photos and to join our mailing list.
RUNFELLOW is social, it's part of who we are. Chase us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @RUNFELLOWgear for the latest updates, including events we'll be at, races we're running or if you're looking for a buddy to hit the streets with.
9. What charitable contributions does RUNFELLOW support, if any?
JD: Many people have expressed that in starting a company for runners and about runners, any donations made should be for runners as well. But I feel strongly that every little bit helps and if $1.00 from each shirt purchased can be donated to help safe a life of a young women, (women just like me) than that's where I want those funds to go.
So $1.00 from every shirt purchased from RUNFELLOW will be donated to the
, an organization and resource for young women facing breast cancer. Each donation will be made on behalf of RUNFELLOW, in honor and memory of my oldest and dearest friend Christine. At 26 years young, after a three year battle with breast cancer she left us to go run in heaven, leaving her footprints forever in the clouds. She was an all-around athlete and such a positive, spirited inspiration to all. I only wish she could participate in this venture as I know she’d be the biggest cheerleader for its success.
10. What's next for RUNFELLOW?
JD: I want to build a community of runners, who all want to motive fellow runners and have fun doing it. Currently RUNFELLOW is in the planning stages of giving the people what they want and organizing a local run club in Somerville, Massachusetts where the brand was born. The hope is to create a fun, no-pressure running club for runners of all abilities that just want to get together, go for a run, have fun doing it and be a part of something good for their community. Connect with us via email or social media for updates and to find out more about the currently in development
, striding though Somerville this July.
11. Any additional points that you want to mention?
JD: RUNFELLOW is built as a running community with a focus on motivating and inspiring fellow runners through our gear. Our positive, quirky tag lines catch your eye, make you smile and push you a little further. We’re not just another running clothing company or run club, we’re a community OF runners, FOR runners.
Make sure to check them out and support their effort. Who knows, they may even select your positive saying for their next t-shirt.
DISCLAIMER: I did not receive any financial or product compensation for this post, I just really thought this was a neat idea for a company. Make sure to check them out.
Coming soon, I'll be posting some recent race recaps, as well as, a new training program I am trying for the upcoming Chicago Marathon. As always, get out gang. Run Fast. Run Smart.