Ah, Friday the 13th! Good things happen on Friday the 13th.
I wanted to share the concept behind the Thirteen Journeys Collection. Every week, I've been sharing with you stories of incredible people but I want to go a bit deeper into the concept behind it all.
As you probably know if you follow us, our brand concept is all about this "Ultimate Self." Sometimes, I think it can be taken as this idealistic image, some perfect version of yourself that is always out of reach... but that's not quite what we are getting at. The idea is that we are always in pursuit of something better. We believe in being self-aware and using that awareness to grow. I think that since we are always striving for our Ultimate Self, that means that we're sort of already there. If we are on this journey to be ever-evolving and ever-better, wouldn't that mean (in theory) that we are always sitting in a temporary state of Ultimate Self before we reach something even better?
I love hearing people's stories... hearing where the came from, what they've done to be who they are now. What's interesting (and a sad truth) is that the cracks along the way are what mold our stories; the hardships and struggles are what give us experience and understanding of ourselves and of life and that's where we grow. Cracked... not broken.
Instead of putting on this front of perfection, I wanted to embrace the whole story... good and bad. Today, so many people live behind these social media facades of what they want their perfect life to look like but in reality, we've all got shit. We all do. And hey, that shit is a huge part of who we are. How we handle it, how we learn from it, how we move on from it and how we apply it.
The Thirteen Journeys Collection concept started with this idea I had many months ago that I've sorta just been sitting on:
Introspection vs. Observation. That is the awareness of your thoughts, feelings and mental state vs. a more objective and physical awareness. (it's a mind-body thing!!) Basically, understanding who you are inside but also being able to really see yourself from the outside.
For the campaign project, this meant exploring these stories... I wanted it to be an opportunity to share on a deeper level so we could talk about the mental things and the physical instead of a fluffy summary focused on before and after.
For the collection, this inspired me to think about reflection. Reflection can mean one of two things:
- the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.
- serious thought or consideration.
Both definitions are on point with the concept but for design, I wanted to focus on the physical definition.
MOSAIC Crop Racerback and Tee:
Brainwave: reflection >mirrors > glass > shattered > cracked > mosaic
The MOSAIC design is just that... a simplified visual of pieces being put together into a design. What I think is so special about the concept of creating mosaics is that bits and pieces that have been cracked apart are then being put back together into an arrangement that is then art. In this case, it's our rhino!
We obviously have a thing for gold... but in this case, it really works with the concept because we were able to use reflective prints!
Read: our journeys are kind of like mosaics.
TRIAD Tanks and Tees:
The TRIAD design is more focused on the three ELEMENTS of your Ultimate Self: strength, power, and stability. On the front, it's simply the words "Ultimate Self" which you'll see have been painted on (because let's be real, it's not a perfect, clean line to your best self). I used a triangle to symbolize the three ELEMENTS (hence the name "TRIAD" -- three!). The triangle also ties into the design of the MOSAIC.
Down the spine, read "strength power stability" because it's kind of the backbone of this whole thing.
And gold, because duh.
Til next time,
A couple months back I met with a customer-turned-friend, Morit, over coffee (obviously, gotta stay caffeinated). We were going back and forth about our stories... where we came from, what our goals are, what we are doing now, etc... Morit suggested I share my journey. I've never been opposed to sharing my story because it's what makes me who I am and it's why the brand is what it is but since I started the company, I never wanted things to be all about me. That's not what WE are about.
I was out walking to teach my Flywheel class on the Upper West Side and the idea struck me. I always have my best ideas when I'm walking to class; maybe it's because my mind is allowed to wander and be free, I don't know. So, this idea, Thirteen Journeys, arrived and I immediately texted Morit, "I KNOW HOW I WANT TO SHARE MY STORY!"
The whole concept was to gather 12 other people to share their journeys with me... for a total of 13 stories, duh! Immediately, ideas of who to ask were flooding my mind and when I'm inspired, I act pretty quickly. I started reaching out to friends and met some new friends along the way.
My badass friend, Shirl + I post-shoot
We speak about our concept and our purpose a lot and this was our chance to make our concept more relatable. Of course, I love our concept but this is our WHY. Why do we talk so much about the mind and body, strength, power and stability, ultimate self? This was our opportunity to dig deeper, connect with you on a more relatable platform. We all have a story; I think everyone's story is significant and can speak to or inspire others in some way or another.
The more I pour myself into this brand and my work outside of Thirteen, the more I'm realizing that all I want to do is help people. This is my chance to make the brand more than just cool tees; I want it to be a brand that somehow can make you FEEL something... empowered, strong, able, excited when you put a shirt on. It's more than getting dressed. It's getting your lifestyle set up for success.
Thirteen Fit Apparel is about a lifestyle. Sure, the "fit" in our name would make you think maybe we are only a fitness brand but we are much more than that. These stories aren't just about lifting weights and getting fit. These stories are about what brought us into fitness, they're about what kept us committed to fitness and self-love, they're about the relentless pursuit of Ultimate Self, they're about the uniqueness of everyone's journey.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to introduce you to some inspiring AF friends who I couldn't be more grateful for. Not only for their willingness to participate in this adventure but for being authentic and vulnerable. It's not always easy to speak about the past but it sure is empowering.
Of course, we weren't going to launch a whole campaign without new apparel!! We have new shirts coming out **pre-orders are being taken** by shopping the website; stock will be in this month for shipping!
In addition to the stories coming (stay super-tuned for our first story on Justine coming TODAY), I will be sharing the concepts behind our new mini-collection AND because I obsessed with explaining all things conceptual, I'll be sharing the story behind our photoshoot/video inspo.
Til next time,
As you may or may not know, I love to design with meaning. I like to think that if I design with a deeper meaning, it gives the brand purpose in addition to, but beyond style alone. Maybe the purpose is just giving you the ability to connect with the concept; maybe it translates on a deeper level and makes you feel more powerful or motivated.
THIRTEEN FIT APPAREL: pretty straightforward, that's who we are!
ULTIMATE SELF: that's our thing, our motive, our mission--to help you achieve your Ultimate Self
STRONG LIKE RHINO: If you don't know about our rhino symbolism, here's a quick rundown. In the previously mentioned pursuit of Ultimate Self, we believe there's a physical and mental balance needed between strength, power, and stability. Our rhino is a symbol of those three elements... SO, that evolved and now we are STRONG LIKE RHINO!
So, that's the list. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE.
Another one of our recurring design elements is the usage of gold. Why? Because we don't settle for silver. Ultimate Self means your BEST self, your number one, the gold standard--gold is not only pretty to look at but it stands for what we stand for! The gold is in it's purest form in the center of the design, "ULTIMATE SELF." Makes sense, yea? From the top and from the bottom, the black fades into the gold... because it's a journey, it's a process. We don't go from 0 to 100. We are ever-evolving and always growing, aiming for that idea of our best self.
LASTLY, the name. My cousin is so good at this so I call her when I need help coming up with verbiage (she actually is the mastermind behind the "ultimate"). We were like, what can we call this shirt?! We were back and forth with names that were about progress or fading but nothing was clicking until... A-LIST.
It's so perfect BECAUSE the shirt is literally A LIST of words that summarize us but ALSO, when a person is on the A-List, they're like, numero uno. Top notch. The bomb.
A-list, /ˈālist/ noun
a real or imaginary list of the most celebrated or sought-after individuals
All Photos by Rebecca Brookstein Photography, @rebeccabrooksteinphotography
Your second dosage of #Thirteen101: The ELEMENTS.
A few months ago, I posted about the 'Thirteen' of Thirteen Fit Apparel, why it's our name and how it ties into our brand concept. Today, I want to dive a little deeper into our message.
You may (or may not have) seen on our site, our OG design: The ELEMENTS Tee. This was one of our two original designs we launched when the website went live. So why did I call it ELEMENTS when it's a graphic of a rhino + some words?
Photo by Rebecca Brookstein Photography
Our overarching theme is Ultimate Self. We believe that achieving your Ultimate Self requires equal parts mental and physical *things* ...we call those things ELEMENTS. We have three ELEMENTS: Strength, Power, and Stability. It's all about mental AND physical strength, mental AND physical power, mental AND physical stability.
So, going back to our OG shirt, The ELEMENTS Tee, this is a symbolic design for everything we stand for. I've always been extremely inspired by nature and animals, so when I was working on the brand concept and doing research, I came across information on animal symbology. The rhino was the perfect fit for what we believe in. There's no doubt the rhinos have all the ELEMENTS we stand for and what I like SO much about rhinos is that they are a docile creature by nature... but can become extremely aggressive if agitated or prompted. I just love that quality.
Photo by Rebecca Brookstein Photography
Taking this all one step further, we took our concept and directly (and I guess, literally) applied it to our tanks and tees. Each piece includes a label with one of the ELEMENTS. Either strength, power, or stability is seen on the exterior of your piece but when you flip it to the inside, it reads "from the inside - out," as a reminder that it's mental and physical. The hem labels are assigned at random so you don't know which one you're going to get--it's exciting, right?!
Photo by Stephanie Garrido Photography
Photo by Rebecca Brookstein Photography
I'm going to be sharing a lot more about our concept in the coming weeks (teaser: look out for our Thirteen Journeys campaign... CAN'T WAIT) to apply everything I'm talking about to real stories, including my own. Without going into too much detail, this concept is really personal to me. When I got into fitness, I was mentally pretty weak and definitely physically weak. The stronger I become physically, the stronger I became mentally. And the stronger I become mentally, the stronger my body became. It's a cool thing. ANYWAYS, that's a story for later so stay tuned!
'Til next time,
October of last year, I was manning our booth at an event up in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun when Rachael popped in to say hello, at the time I didn't know her but we clicked and have been in touch ever since. Her friend was shopping around, she ended up getting our Pink STRONG LIKE RHINO Crop after some debate about which style to get. Rachael and I started chatting. First about how the pink shirt was for breast cancer... which turned into her telling me about how orange is the MS color. Then she mentioned that she was a cyclist and I was like, "uh, me too!!" ...except she actually rides outside for like, hundreds of miles. And all over the country. And to raise money for MS!
About a week later, I received a phone call and guess who?! RACHAEL! HEY GIRL! She then introduced (well, e-introduced) me to Michael. Long story short, we decided it would be really fun to work together on some team tees for her races and events.
Michael is the founder and Rachael is the Development Director + member of TVR, Team Velox Rota. They have been riding together (14 years now...but last year it was 13!). Our plan was to come up with 3 designs for 3 different events: Climb to the Top, MuckFest MS, and CCG a.k.a Cape Cod Getaway (the same event we made shirts for the National MS Society who runs that particular race--their biggest fundraiser of the year!).
- We started with the Climb:
Their saying goes, "1200 Steps Closer To A Cure." So as you can see, we used their tagline as the focal point. I think it's pretty straightforward but I'm excited that we are going to reprint this design for this year's race, too!
- Then we worked on MuckFest:
Their team name for this event is the "Muck Dogs." As any event tee, we wanted to make sure to get everything in: team name, event name, year, and the team's logo. I think sometimes it's hard to achieve a modern design when there are a lot of required elements but I think we pulled it off!! It's a mud run so I think it's dirty enough but clean enough that it doesn't get lost.
- Last and CERTAINLY not least (this one was a doozy!), CCG:
This year, TVR wanted to celebrate all the individuals who have participated on their team so the idea was to take all names (as you can see, there are hundreds) and incorporate them into the design. After a lot of editing, fixing names, moving names around, we finally came to this! The negative space is the team's logo. To achieve the negative space logo, we listed every name of every participant around the outside. We filled the inner circle with team hashtags, the event name, year, etc... #JUSTKEEPPEDALING
The design became the back of the shirt and because it's so detailed, we felt the front should be a little more minimal for the sake of balance. We did this design as a left-breast placement.
Designing last year's shirts was only the beginning; I'm posting about it now because we are revving up to start this year's designs and I'm getting PSYCHED about it! I love designing but it feels pretty damn good to do it with a cause.
'Til next time,
11/13/15, the day our website went LIVE. I'm not great at math but I can tell you that's TWO. FULL. YEARS.
Normally, we post about custom design and design concepts on the blog but this month, I want to share our journey with you in celebration/recognition of our TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY!
It's wild, really. I think it's crazy how things happen... how one experience or decision leads to the next and you look back to realize everything has changed.
Hi, I'm Paige.
(Photo by Rebecca Brookstein Photography, @rebeccabrooksteinphotography)
I went to F.I.T. (the Fashion Institute, not to be confused with Florida) as a fashion design major specializing in eveningwear. I loved all things beaded, shiny and lacey. There was a program for activewear/sportswear at our school and I specifically remember thinking and verbalizing how I would NEVER want to design activewear. Never say never, as they say (Justin Beiber said it, too).
This was my senior collection... def not t-shirts
January 2013-September 2015 I was working my "dream job." But hey, things change. At the same time, I started getting really into fitness. Prior, I was FAR from fit. I exercised on rare occasion and ate HORRIBLY (like, bad. My diet almost exclusively consisted of PB&J, cheeze-its, chicken nuggets, no veggies in sight). Fast forward, it snowballed into me lifting weights, joining CrossFit, spinning and trying every way of eating I could (paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, IIFYM, juicing and juice cleanses, etc...)
Fitness began to really change my life. I realized it was becoming more than just a hobby; it was becoming my lifestyle and this other passion which was extremely confusing to me. For my entire life, I pretty much knew what I wanted. I worked hard for it and all of a sudden, my feelings were shifting. In the midst of trying to cope with this confusion, I decided to get Spinning (TM) certified so I could get my foot in the fitness door while still maintaining my job in fashion.
Long story, still long but abbreviated, I started teaching spin and teaching more... and more until I slowly worked my way out of fashion. Phew, I did it. But a few months of full force fitness made me realize this is NOT who I am. At least, not totally. I AM creative and I NEED to design. The way I feel when I design is something I have a hard time putting into words but I'm going to try to: when something inspires me or an idea hits, I get a huge adrenaline rush... almost so much that I can't actually channel that energy into designing. I have to write it down or do research to try to focus it in, sit on it. Eventually, I'll find my way to the computer and when I'm IN the design, I lose track of time and I even forget to eat (that's a big deal because I really love food). I get physically high, I shake a little. I legit feel crazy but it's so exciting and overwhelming in the best way. So, being 100% fitness left me without that high.
Walking on the East River, NYC with my AMAZING friend, Gina (fitness professional and co-blogger of www.jetsetandforget.com) I was telling her how I was feeling, how I felt like maybe I should just make gym t-shirts (at this point, I had been building up my graphic design portfolio and resume for a few years on the side). She asked me, "Why don't you?" I responded, "I don't know." She asked again.... "So, why don't you?"
The next day (July 2015), I applied for the LLC, I decided on a company name, I designed the logo and I started working. At this point, I was preparing designs, ordering stock, designing the website and brand concept all for the launch Friday, November 13th, 2015.
For the first six months, I was figuring it out. Is this a hobby? Is this just a side project for now? Is this something I want to pursue? I really didn't know. It wasn't a priority in comparison to my paying jobs but it was something I was working on.
(One of our OG designs, the ELEMENTS Tee)
That June, I made the move to be a vendor down in Florida (why Florida when I live in New York? I don't even know. I was just kinda like, let's do something crazy and shipping my entire stock down the coast was crazy to me!). I'm lucky to have friends and family who support me so much so I brought along with me my father and my cousin, Danielle to help man the booth of the 3-day event. At this point, I was in love with this brand and decided this was my priority.
(At the Bacon Beatdown with Hard2Kill Athletics)
From then on, I started booking events, mostly in and around New York to avoid the travel expenses. It has surely been a learning experience; figuring out what events work for us and what our customers want (trial and error!).
In the past year and a half, I think the brand has really started to understand itself, its aesthetic and identity, and is more confident in its message. Sure, there are PLENTY of t-shirt companies. It's a competitive market but I'm a competitive person. I've had people allude to/straight up tell me how I've picked a bad market to be in because of how saturated it is, especially now when athleisure IS what people wear. But you know what I say?! BRING IT ON. I love competition, I thrive in chaos and hey, we've made it two years already!!
(Photos by Stephanie Garrido)
I'm certainly biased but I think we have a few things that help us stand out.
1. Our message, design and identity - everything we do has a reason, the details we include are put there on purpose to make sure the customer feels the message when they wear the apparel. Our designs have meaning and symbolism with a minimal, modern approach. We are more than t-shirts. We are a lifestyle, we are a mission! Read more about our concept by clicking HERE :) and to read more about the deets, click THIS
2. Custom design - we have our collection of tanks and tees but we absolutely go crazy for custom design. We've been so lucky to work with amazing brands, organizations, and individuals, bringing our quality and design aesthetic into their shirts (the MS Society, the National MS Society, Concrete Jungle Strength + Conditioning, Crouse NICU, FITWeek by Empowered, bachelorette parties, team shirts, event tees, just to name a few).
3. Customer service - coming from the luxury market and retail, I've definitely learned the value of making the customer's experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Whether it's how we wrap orders with hand-written notes or following up with them to be sure their product is exactly what they wanted, we want to connect to our customers. At the end of the day, sure I own the company but we wouldn't be one if it weren't for the customers and community. I always tell people, once you purchase a shirt from Thirteen, you are a part of Team Thirteen. Without you, we've got nothin'.
Since our first anniversary SO much has happened. More custom design, more products added to the collection, more events, just MORE! Our newest not-shirt launch was our blog (that you're obviously reading), Thirteen Underground.
And what's in our future? Right now, we are working on a website revamp. It's time to level up!! New photos by Rebecca Brookenstein Photography are coming soon (@rebeccabrooksteinphotography), BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. New winter gear is coming in within the next few weeks AND we are in the development phase of our own leggings and joggers!! More events coming, more custom coming... we are certainly not slowing down.
*Raise your glass* or *cup of coffee* (because, Monday)... Here's to another year of growth, health, wealth and #ULTIMATESELF! Thank you to everyone who has made this brand possible... friends, family, customers, clients, community, readers, followers, TEAM THIRTEEN.
'Til next time,