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Interview with the Founders of Janji: Running Apparel

Janji sent us some clothing from their latest spring/summer line-up. We are big fans. Their running apparel rivals your big name brands with a powerful mission behind it. Rather than tell you all the great aspects of their new gear, we decided to do something a little different for this review. We asked Janji co-founders Mike & Dave to tell us a little about the brand and how they got started. It sounds like an exciting time for the company with great things to come…

What is the story behind Janji? When/How did you get started?

Dave: The idea for Janji started on the bus ride to the DIII NCAA Track Championship meet going into my senior year in college. The Thursday we were scheduled to run the 10k was forcasted to be exceptionally hot and we spent the whole bus ride hydrating. During that bus ride we thought to ourselves, man, we are lucky. Here we had clean water, the most basic resource to life, everywhere we looked. We knew runners were giving—look at all the races for a cause—and so we thought that if we created a running brand that went for a cause, specifically clean water and nutrition, then runners would react extremely positive. The response has been amazing.

What is Janji?

Mike: Janji is the running brand that gives back. Every piece of apparel has a design that’s inspired by a country and then when a runner buys that piece of apparel he or she helps that country either with clean water or nutrition. So for instance, when a runner buys Janji’s Tanzania shorts, they give one year of clean water to a Tanzania family. The Haiti shirt helps Haiti, the Kenya long sleeve helps Kenya, and so on.

Why the philanthropic model?

Dave: We started Janji as a way to improve the world through the sport we love—not just to create another running brand. Runners raised over $1 billion for charity just through races last year, but historically there’s been no running brand that goes for something bigger. Even more importantly, there’s over one billion people worldwide that lack access to clean water or lack proper nutrition. By connecting runners in the US, who are keenly aware of what they’re eating and drinking, we can make a major impact around the world.

Are you able to see the impact you’ve had on the lives of others?

Mike: Thankfully Dave and I have been able to see the impact first. We work with amazing partners doing incredible things on the ground. We’ve visited them—I most recently was in Kenya, Dave in Haiti—and just last year alone we gave 21,904 packets of nutritional medicine and 1,689 years of clean water to six countries around the world.

What has been the toughest part of starting Janji?

Dave: Whenever you’re new and don’t have a lot of money it’s tough to get the name out there. When people go into a local running store, they’re rarely going in looking for Janji since they probably have never even heard of the brand or Janji’s cause. So we have to make sure we work hard to get the word out there and tell the story about what we stand for and why someone should pick Janji over say Nike. We get a lot of sales just from people who love the way Janji fits, feels, and looks, but we also want them to know the story and how their apparel goes for something bigger.

What is the designing and testing process for new products?

Mike: The design and testing process for Janji is a long road! We start the season by saying: what new types of apparel should we explore and what fun and interesting ways can we continue to evolve the design while staying true to our cause? In our first year, we made apparel with designs entirely based off the flag of a country and now we take more graphical inspirations from a country. That change has liberated our design staff and helped spawn some pretty cool pieces. As for testing, we go through a rigorous test of running in them (Dave and I still run over 60 miles a week) and just wearing them around town. That way we make sure we create apparel that’s not just fun to wear while running, but great to just wear around the house or around town.

What sets Janji apart from other running apparel companies?

Dave: There are two things that truly separate Janji. The first, of course, is our mission. No other running brand (and we hope all this changes) is giving back every single time someone purchases its products. No other athletic brand is built completely around connecting runners here with those less fortunate around the world. And no other athletic brand is working on solutions for the global food and water crisis. But the second thing that truly separates us is our design. Janji designs are distinctly global and country-inspired. We take great pride in being able to spot a Janji piece from very far away, just based on how unique it is from other types of running gear out there.

What are you most excited about for Janji right now?

Mike: We have some big announcements this summer (that we can’t quite tell you about yet, sorry!). So let’s just say it’ll be an exciting next few months…

What is the future for Janji? 

Dave: What motivated us to start Janji in the first place is what still gets us excited today: to make a real impact on the world through the sport that we love. I think as long as we continue to make great apparel that people love and we continue to stay true to our mission of giving back, we can do some really amazing things.

Where can you purchase Janji running apparel? Check out their store locator.




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