In the dawn of the paper straw and the reusable coffee cup, it’s no surprise that Gareth Evans (MBA, 2017) and his business partner Joe Lines, saw a gap in the market for truly sustainable, high performing, ethical activewear. Here Gareth tells the story of his new venture Peak+Flow; activewear that is kind to the earth but tough enough for your weekly HITT session.
Can you tell me about your time at Cass?
When I decided to study an MBA, I had a very clear goal of leaving my career in sales, and wanted to develop a deeper understanding of how businesses work. I didn’t know what field I wanted to move into precisely, but I felt that an MBA would help me to explore my options.
Cass Business School ticked all the right boxes for me due to its excellent London location, which was near my work and home. Plus, the fact that it offered an Executive MBA programme allowed me to fit study around my busy work schedule.
What happened after you graduated?
The day I handed in my Business Mastery Project, my company changed my role, so I achieved my aim of getting out of sales on the very day I finished the programme; a brilliant return on my investment.
Since then I have, along with my business partner, gone on to grow a consulting practice and also to launch a new sustainable activewear company, Peak+Flow.
How did Peak+Flow come about?
Peak+Flow was born out of three simple realisations which developed over time:
Most activewear was created using materials that were damaging to the planet. Our options were to either buy from established brands who occasionally pay lip-service to sustainability, or end up with hessian-type clothing which didn’t perform.
Secondly, we saw activewear as a category being dragged increasingly towards fast-fashion: resulting in clothing that was over logo-ed, over-designed and released faster than necessary to the consumer. Not everyone wants to walk around advertising a brand in fluorescent yellow.
Lastly, we spent time researching brands and companies manufacturing activewear and found a lack of transparency and purpose. We believe many consumers see through the gigantic advertising budgets and would like to see a company delivering on values that people care deeply about.
The result of these was both of us asking how would you build a company that would ethically create sustainable clothing.
What has been the biggest challenge?
We knew when we set out it was going to be very challenging, and it still is.
While sustainability and ethical manufacturing are being discussed more and more today, when we started out two years ago it wasn’t so common. It was a challenge trying to find suppliers and partners that met the standards required, while we are selves were trying to establish our principles at the same time as learning about the industry. Quality and function have always been paramount but equal to sustainability and ethical production.
It is challenging as a new business to find partners that will work with you, and you multiply that when your demands surpass that of nearly everyone in the industry.
What has been the most rewarding experience?
Seeing the response that people have had to the brand, both online and at the trade shows we have done. Hearing people tell us that this is what they have been waiting for is very rewarding after a 2-year journey.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
It is going to take longer than you think, and that is ok.
Enjoy the journey and realise that no one wants it to go as quickly as you do.
Peak+Flow is currently fundraising via Kickstarter. To find out more and support the cause, please visit: kck.st/2Rn1Jzh
You can also follow them on Instagram: @peakandflow