How did you two meet?
We first met in New York shortly before the two of us headed to MIT for grad school. While at MIT, we worked together to start a new club. This helped us realize just how complementary our skill sets and personalities were and made it an easy jump to co-found Season Three.
We were studying at MIT and had just survived our first winter in Boston. One of our top complaints was that our winter boots just weren't working; they were too hot, too heavy, and too bulky for our style. At the same time, we realized boots were a necessity in places with harsh winters, especially for people like us who enjoy travel and the outdoors. The perfect boot just didn't exist, so we launched Season Three to answer one simple question: could we make a more versatile boot?
Why did you focus on boots?
Jared: I am a long-time footwear nerd. I think I originally fell in love with shoes by playing basketball, a sport where sneakers are not only technically important but culturally significant.
Adam: We started with the hiking boot (and by that we mean the classic European hiking boot silhouette) because it was the perfect canvas for us to build a more modern, versatile boot. The style is iconic and lends itself to a more fashion-forward treatment, as well as to waterproofing and material innovation.
How did your previous work inform your approach to the design and production of The Ansel?
Our experience in finance and law (and business in general) helped us keep the business model in mind throughout the design process. We knew that through a direct-to-consumer approach we could afford to produce a higher-quality product without the price tag of other luxury brands (~$700). We experimented with the best materials and scaled things back only when a certain choice was either unnecessary or too expensive.
Our past experience also helped us recognize what we didn’t know about the industry. We constantly asked our factory and production team questions and pushed for out-of-the-box solutions. Because we weren’t married to any traditional way of doing things, we were able to be more innovative in our design process. For example, our merino wool lining was something our factory had never done before.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Jared: I would say the #1 challenge we’ve faced is growing brand awareness. It’s tough for a small brand without a big budget to break into the market, even when you have a hero product that is as strong as The Ansel. Marketing with constraints means that you’re going to have to rely on a handful of oversaturated channels and it takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity to get out there.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Jared: My experience thus far has only reinforced the fact that we are (and need to be) life-long learners. Many of our day-to-day activities require technical competencies that we did not have when we first started this company. We’ve had to get up to speed quickly so many times, and now we’re used to working in environments where we don’t understand everything.
Adam: Constantly being in a state of chaos makes it your norm. I’ve also learned to adapt and make decisions with limited data sets, resources, and time. I love being an operator, especially when I’m passionate about the subject matter, but I think I may continuously need that adrenaline spike to truly find purpose and meaning in what I am doing!
What do you hope to accomplish in making the outdoors more accessible?
Jared: A lot of this is rooted in my personal identity as a Black person and knowing that we are underrepresented in the outdoors market. With Season Three, we’re working to inspire others to spend time outside in the simplest of ways. We're trying to promote a more accessible vision of what it means to be an “outdoors person.”
What’s your team culture like?
Our team is extremely collaborative. We're proponents of an idea called “productive conflict.” Instead of shying away from disagreements, we’re constantly creating a space where dissent is encouraged and everyone we work with is empowered to speak up. That goes for everyone we work with, including interns. We subscribe to Amazon’s core principle of “disagree and commit,” which means that you have a discussion, figure out the best solution collectively, and then leave your egos at the door and commit as a team to pursue the chosen path.
What is your superpower?
Jared: My superpower is my ability to hold and consider several conflicting ideas at once.
(From Adam: “It is true, and also very confusing at the same time.”)
Adam: My superpower is some combination of organization and being able to synthesize disparate information very quickly to form an idea or plan.
What’s your kryptonite?
Jared: My kryptonite is overthinking. I can be prone to giving things too much thought and end up talking myself into the wrong decision or, most likely, into paralysis.
Adam: My kryptonite is conveying the idea or plan in my head to others. I've learned that it helps to write it out or have someone like Jared who speaks my language to help me translate it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Jared: I feel like the best advice I’ve ever gotten is that I don’t have to do something just because I’m good at it. I can’t tell you who told me that, but they were right.
Adam: My father has always told me, “You will never last in corporate America!” (But, then he also tells me to make more money, so who knows!?)