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EVERGOODS :: Rumblings from Bozeman

by , December 23, 2016

EVERGOODS is a brand you’ve never heard of, but that’s soon to change. It’s building as we speak, in a quiet corner of Bozeman, Montana. At the helm, two men well-versed in the world of great carry: Jack Barley, co-founder of GORUCK, and Kevin Dee, a master designer and the genius behind some of Patagonia’s most beloved projects.

The two, the visionary and the perfectionist, have set their sights on redefining what the all-day category represents with only one guiding principle: to be completely product and development driven. No red tape. No corporate agenda. Just the product. HQ sat me down with them to chat about the philosophies behind their new endeavor and the noble approach they’re taking to designing the future of cross-over equipment.

EVERGOODS

I can feel the mountains outside the windows of their Bozeman, MT workshop. Jack apologizes for being short of breath. He’s just finished a business hike spanning five miles of Montana’s finest—how quintessentially Bozeman. He slings a prototype off his shoulder, and we begin. 

EVERGOODS

Blue light lingers outside the office where Kevin and Jack sit. They rented this empty warehouse space and built every piece of furniture so they could work in a way that suits them. I understand that particularity as I look at them. Barley, bespectacled, sitting forward in his office chair, his enthusiasm transferred into constant movement. Dee, farther away from the monitor, is more relaxed, perhaps reserved even. You can nearly hear the gears turning. They wear plain clothing, but speak, at times, like physicists.

“The two, the visionary and the perfectionist, have set their sights on redefining what the all-day category represents with only one guiding principle: to be completely product and development driven.”

EVERGOODS

EVERGOODS

EVERGOODS

Barley arrived at EVERGOODS by way of GORUCK, where he co-founded the brand and managed the young start-up’s design team that delivered the new standard of bomber bags: what we know today as the GR1. Meanwhile, Kevin Dee was busy in the R&D lab over at Patagonia pushing material and construction until he left for private contract ventures, where only after his leaving did some of his work trickle into the High Alpine Kit. You ever open an Ascensionist? Yeah—Kevin designed that mechanism. Their new titles are well deserved. Barley is CEO and Dee is Head of Product and R&D, but things can get a little fuzzy when it’s only a two-man show and there’s a lot of shared responsibility.

“Barley arrived at EVERGOODS by way of GORUCK, where he co-founded the brand and managed the young start-up’s design team that delivered the new standard of bomber bags: what we know today as the GR1.”

EVERGOODS

As we chat, the two are excited, on the cusp of launching their new brand. Jack tells me that they’re simply here to do one thing: make the best bags they can – that’s the only goal on their board.

EVERGOODS

While I can’t tell you too much about their new packs just yet, I can say they address the all-day category. As Barley explained, “Once you step out your front door, you’re outside.” And that’s what these bags are dialed for. Urban. Active. Outdoor. Each bag will have its own prowess but be equally adept at its siblings’ forte. What excites me most as a consumer is that these guys are talking long game—confidently. Jack explained, “Part of the reason we want to be in business together is that we wanted to be completely product and development driven. We want to build a foundation of that knowledge, so that ten years from now, who knows what we’ll be capable of.”

“Urban. Active. Outdoor. Each bag will have its own prowess but be equally adept at its siblings’ forte.”

EVERGOODS

Barley and Dee’s partnership in EVERGOODS is about them coming together to make something that neither of them could do alone. Dee is all in. According to him, “The kind of product I want to make is going to take a guy like Jack to get it to the finish line.” He goes on, “I’m excited because I feel like I get to work with a marketing, strategy, business person who is very keyed into the product, and that we’re going to make good product together. It’s about me aligning myself with someone who will make that possible in a way that I think is significant.”

“Barley and Dee’s partnership in EVERGOODS is about them coming together to make something that neither of them could do alone.” 

EVERGOODS

In a very yin and yang sense, Barley and Dee are in this because they need each other. While working with two of the biggest brands in the game, they’d never really had the creative opportunity to produce something entirely their own. Both of these guys believe that the product should come first and allow that to inform every other aspect of the business. Barley says, “We work well together because I am absolutely sensitive to and inspired and in awe of process and development as it relates to product and research and development.” And he’s got a business plan to back that up; a portion of each sale gets kicked into the R&D fund so they can let that drive their future projects. “We want to work together…so that the product and the development does drive everything,” says Barley.

“In a very yin and yang sense, Barley and Dee are in this because they need each other. While working with two of the biggest brands in the game, they’d never really had the creative opportunity to produce something entirely their own.”

EVERGOODS

And that’s refreshing. EVERGOODS is—uncompromisingly—product driven. You don’t get that so often these days with the business decisions being made on a different floor from the studio. That’s not the case with EVERGOODS. “I think what is important is that there is a kind of product and a way of working/developing that is important to Kevin and me. It is not for us to say our way is any better or the only way, but to say this is how we do it, and this is why we do it this way,” Barley wrote to me later.

EVERGOODS

What way is that exactly? Well, the conceptualization for each project starts with them working together. Dee says, “When it comes to product development, when you really get into it, there’s a million and one decisions to make and none of these decisions have a clear right or wrong yes or no answer. They’re just sort of pros and cons and they have to balance out…” He continues, “It’s very delicate and we have to interact and discuss a lot.”

“It is not for us to say our way is any better or the only way, but to say this is how we do it, and this is why we do it this way…”

EVERGOODS

EVERGOODS

When an idea does make it to the development stage, Dee, with his uniquely broad skill set: a degree in sculpture, a self-taught seamster, and master designer, begins patterning out these visions and assembles them to scale, making sure that each face and curve are perfect before ever cutting a single piece of fabric. One of Dee’s greatest strengths is that he plays on both sides of the design/manufacturing process. “We sew all our prototypes in-house, so we can leverage shape and pattern and material toward the end goal, where designers more separated from the sewing can only go so far,” explains Dee. 

“When an idea does make it to the development stage, Dee, with his uniquely broad skill set: a degree in sculpture, a self-taught seamster, and master designer, begins patterning out these visions and assembles them to scale…”

EVERGOODS

If the mock-up doesn’t pass their strict aesthetic standards, it gets tossed, and there’s a pile of paper models sitting in the corner of the shop to prove it.  They don’t represent failure though, they’re valuable learning as Barley says, “Here’s the beauty of that—you haven’t lost time. You might have to back out and then move forward, but I feel like there are these nuggets of gold that you discover and keep. You’re creating this treasure chest of mistakes and discoveries that become eternally at your possession and disposal for subsequent projects.”

““We sew all our prototypes in-house, so we can leverage shape and pattern and material toward the end goal, where designers more separated from the sewing can only go so far,” explains Dee.”

EVERGOODS

EVERGOODS

Barley and Dee build off each other for a moment longer, collaborating even in their responses. Barley says, “I think we bonded, like he wants to work that way but he also wants it to be interactive and collaborative.” He speaks with his hands to punctuate the steps of the process, “We are checking in on this stuff like every step of the way.”

“Absolutely,” Dee picks up, “that’s why Jack’s a good fit, because he’s kind of visionary, kind of business guy, but he gives a shit about the product. So many of the business guys, the visionary guys, just don’t have a clue and they don’t care about—”

“—how it goes together!” Barley more excited now cuts in, “or what the problems are, or what it is to make product like that! I want to understand it as much as I can so that when I engage with them [designers], I deserve to have that conversation.”

“You’re creating this treasure chest of mistakes and discoveries that become eternally at your possession and disposal for subsequent projects.”

EVERGOODS

EVERGOODS

As we wrap up, I can’t help but admire the fact that these guys decided to turn this vision into a reality. That’s always the most profound thing, to meet someone, listen to them tell you their dreams, and watch them do whatever it takes to make it happen. “The goal is for us to get to do the kind of work that we want to do on our terms. That’s why we’re working together, and I’m most proud of us marching toward that.” Barley tempers his emotions and reels back into his seat. 

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I ask about their products, one last time, a little nudge you’d call it, and Dee and Barley can’t wait any longer. Stoke level: Rocket ship. They pull out two of the three bags they’re releasing next year and give me the rundown. They’re just what you’d imagine— sleek and refined, for town and country and everything in between. Their five-year calendar, methodically color-coordinated on the white board behind them, subtly stakes its claim. EVERGOODS are coming. And when they arrive, I imagine they’ll be here to stay.

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Keen to keep up to date with EVERGOODS? Follow their brand new blog, chronicling the brand’s story every step of the way, including photos of the development process, notes from Barley and Dee, and the option for you to participate directly with the brand as they grow. Enjoy!

EVERGOODS

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