Co-founders look back at the road trip that started it all, the Kickstarter launch & the importance of using post-consumer recycled materials
It All Started With A Road TripIf you don’t know the story, Nomadix started with a road trip. Co-founders Zack Helminiak, Hunter Robinson, and Chace Petersen were packed in a ‘98 Subaru Outback, set to travel cross country with all their camping and ski gear. The time spent squished between gear as they drove across the United States, made them realize what’s important and got them thinking: if they had less gear, they’d have more room for adventure.
The Kickstarter Launch
Thus the rumblings of Nomadix began. For Helminiak, Robinson, and Petersen, the need for the equipment that they carried to be multi-use and minimal was important. “To us, owning less meant owning fewer possessions, usually that were meticulously curated and high performing,” Helminiak said. So on the road trip, they all dreamt of the perfectly curated kit, which included a minimalist towel that performed in all scenarios.
Two years of designing, sampling and testing all types of towels followed. Once a prototype passed inspection and was ready for the world, it was time to launch on Kickstarter to crowdfund the project. “We launched the Kickstarter at a crazy time in our lives,” Helminiak said.
Helminiak, Robinson, and Petersen all had full-time jobs and Helminiak had just moved across the country from Washington, D.C. to California. “I remember rushing to finish the video and pressing submit on Kickstarter late the night before I left for a trip to Europe,” Helminiak said. He was checking the campaign from Berlin, Budapest, Ljubljana and Kraków. “I believe we hit our goal when I was in Kraków,” Helminiak added.
What began as a goal to create high-quality, versatile products, quickly turned into a way of life that meant a commitment to sustainability that is written in the company’s core.
What Sustainability Means
The driving message of Nomadix is “Own Less. Do More.” But when you live with less, you need your gear to be durable enough for anything that comes your way, and there is a careful balance between making products that are long lasting but lessen the impact on the planet.
In his daily life, Petersen asks himself if he actually needs new things or just wants them. “How will those things enhance my life? Will it bring more clutter? What will I do with it when I’m done?”
Part of living with less means using what you already have. Unfortunately something that we have a lot of is plastic waste. For Nomadix, the decision to use plastic waste to create their products was simple. “We care about the places we visit and plan to visit, and we wanted to run a company that stands for solving environmental problems, not contributing to them,” Helminiak said.
“In our lifetimes, and we are in our 30s, plastic pollution and textile pollution have visibly worsened, so we wanted to divert as much of that waste as possible away from our waterways, oceans and beaches.” Helminiak called it a moral imperative for a modern company, and believes that their customers agree.
It wasn’t just the idea of using post-consumer recycled plastics that was important to Nomadix. “Traditional dying processes generate enormous amounts of toxic wastewater,” Petersen added. “Rivers and waterways near factories that use these processes turn the color of that day’s dye. Those inks are full of heavy metals that eventually find their way into the food supply. It’s not good for the local communities.”
So Nomadix committed to print their designs on their towels instead of using dyes.
Seven Years Strong
For Nomadix, there have been a lot of milestones in the seven years. “We went through the classic story of starting in a garage, moving to a house with a garage, and now into our second building and warehouse,” notes Robinson. “I’m most proud of the fact that we have had a 100% retention rate at Nomadix over these seven years. Watching the team grow in their professional and personal lives has been a trip too, and it’s cool to be able to be part of those milestones in people’s lives.”
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