An Anniversary Interview with Jed
- What does Jed North Mean to you?
“I think Jed North means, first of all, my livelihood. That means how we pay our bills. Secondly, it’s a realization of ambition, dreams, goals, and objectives. It is really cool and I feel really lucky every day to do what I am doing now”
- What differentiates Jed North from other brands?
“I think especially in the fitness industry what differentiates us is that we’ve been following data, analytics, and quantitative marketing from the get-go. We know our position in the market, which is to be a crossover between Zara and H&M. In a nutshell, we’re fast fashion and functional sportswear like Nike and Gymshark.”
- Why did you choose fitness apparel?
“I don’t know if I told you guys this, but I didn’t actually choose fitness apparel, fitness apparel chose me. After I left Rogers, which is the Canadian version of some of the telecom companies in the US, my first business idea was selling fashion jewelry on Etsy and Amazon, and that was an epic fail. I could not even pay my bills because I did not understand the market, e-commerce or the difference between shopping online versus shopping at a brick and mortar store. Second business idea was making socks. It sort of worked but didn’t really work. I was selling or getting 2-3 orders a day and you can’t pay bills with 3 orders per day. Right around the same time, I started working out and someone asked me a favor to get him some plain stringers with no logos or anything. So I pretty much just started from there. I sold 2000 more the following month and hereafter came Jed North and the women’s line.”
- What do you think is missing from fitness apparel as of now?
“What I think is missing from an industry standpoint is we emphasize too much on aesthetics and do not realize that fashion is pretty similar to music or your movies; what’s popular now will not be popular next year. A lot of products and designs are not really sustainable in the long run, so we want to create these timeless pieces that you can also wear in the next 5 years since the quality will hold.”
- How do you think becoming a father will change your outlook on business or the brand?
“I think in a sense, I am a father already. Like I said to some of you guys, I am a lot older than most of you. I had this interesting conversation the other day with one of my friends. She was saying how I am almost like a father or a professor in a sense to my team. In a way, I already feel like this is my fatherhood and I feel really accomplished sometimes when I think about the impact I have on you guys. Someone that is fresh from college or university joins Jed North and he or she spends a couple of years here and they can then find a job with Joe Fresh or Nike. I will feel really proud, like two years here and you can get a job with Joe fresh. I feel like I did my job and I don’t expect you to be here forever, I want you to go see the world. So I guess that in a sense prepares me for the fatherhood mentality and I know I am ready.”
- How do you stay motivated?
“I think this is a part I feel is really controversial about. A lot of people feel like that by subscribing to GaryVee or following motivational speakers on YouTube or archiving motivational Instagram posts they will automatically be motivated. I completely disagree, I think in my case it is more intrinsic in the sense that I kind of feel like I was born with it. Maybe it is because of my childhood, I have not spent much time analyzing how and why I am very driven, but I am just always that annoying kid in class that is quick to answer whenever a professor asks a question. I’m always like that and to me it’s natural. I don’t need to archive Garyvees posts or Ted Talks to be motivated. I feel like ambition or drive should come very naturally, instead of like, “I am going to send my kid to this camp and he will come back motivated”. A lot of that has already shaped when you’re a child, your upbringing and how your family cultivates your mentality. I feel like that has a lot to do with it instead of being in your 20’s and subscribing to a YouTube channel and saying I am going to be driven now.”
- What are some of your inspirations?
“I become obsessed with people periodically, in other words, last year I was really obsessed with Joe Fresh, I read all the articles about Joe Fresh and I watched all the TV interviews. I see a lot of similarities, I am not saying I am as a good a designer as he is, but I see a lot of overlap. Joe Fresh is a CPA accountant with a design background and I think that’s very similar to what I’m doing. Being a designer, intimately understanding the numbers, and being able to really read the financial statements/ratios of the company. He was really my inspiration. This year I think I am really looking into some of the more outspoken political figures because I feel like it does not matter what you do, it could be politics, science, medical research or whatever. As long as this person keeps pushing the envelope, in a way, anyone in any field, an athlete, a scientist or even a geologist; anyone can inspire you. I don’t feel like I want to be pigeonholed in the fitness or fashion world and only look at those people for inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I respect them so much but I just feel like anyone can inspire you. I will give you one example here that will help translate my point. I was at Shoppers the other night at almost 10 pm and the store was about to close. There was a foreign lady there who is probably new to Canada, trying to use different credit cards and the cashier was explaining to her the process of how to use them. The cashier showed such patience in her explanation, gaining a lot of my respect; I actually got a lot of inspiration from her in regards to customer service and how to deal with people.”
- What did you learn in the past year?
“Social media is a double-edged sword. If harnessed correctly it can be really useful and vice-versa.”
- What are your plans for the next year?
“I want to take Jed North to the next stage. I am looking for that next Eureka moment for Jed North so that we can reach the next quantum leap. Our market is more niche, and I want to make it more commonplace in every day. This means not just for fitness people or bodybuilding fans, but for everybody and people with different interests.”
- What are you most excited for in the next few years?
“I really think Jed North will become a household brand. It will be equivalent to some of the fast fashion brands right now. I am excited to work with people from different markets. We are expanding into Brazil, Asia, and more European countries and I am really excited about that. Overall, I think to be able to see a little seedling grow and eventually harvest our hard work is pretty exciting. I don’t have a 5-year plan as technology moves fast, so nobody knows what is really going to happen. That is why we look at a shorter-term, so we know where we are headed, but 5 years is hard to say. Directionally speaking, I’ll say that we will become better known, increase our product lines and continue to give the best customer service available.”