Josh & Jared Ravenscraft: Branding Appalachia
On episode 113, Evan and Logan sat down with Josh and Jared Ravenscraft of New Frontier Outfitters to discuss building a brand that represents Appalachia in the same way that lifestyle brands represent the outdoors of the Western United States. Taking full advantage of the gorgeous outdoor scenes found in Kentucky, the episode was filmed overlooking a gorgeous Kentucky lake with the sound of cicadas faintly in the background. These two brothers from the Appalachia region of Kentucky are determined to show that small town does not mean small mind. Through their use of technology and dedicated hard work, they are making an impact that reaches much farther than the Appalachia Mountains.
From the grit and determination that was engraved in Josh and Jared by being raised in a region that was built by coal miners and lumberjacks, they were able to bootstrap together New Frontier from $200 and one laptop. Using the power of social media, online sales, and shop-to-shop sales, they have been able to not only sell products and generate revenue to grow their business but also have been able to create a following that is larger than their clothing brand. As their following grows, so does their voice for Appalachia and what the region has to offer. Having been born, raised, and educated in Eastern Kentucky, Josh and Jared know full and well the need the region has to be represented in a light that truly represents the area. The beauty and strength of Appalachia is often overlooked as non-productive or backwards, but people familiar with the area know that this if far from the truth. Appalachia has some of the prettiest and easily accessible nature scenes in the United States, and not to mention a massive music culture that has produced the likes of Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton. New Frontier is meant to create a recognizable voice for the nature, the music and culture, and the people of this region in order to truly highlight the beauty and opportunity Appalachia has to offer.
They understand that responsibility comes with having such a voice, so they pride themselves on values of sustainability and regional loyalty. The two brothers are using technology and New Frontier’s success to bring opportunity to Appalachia through using local sustainable materials and partnering with local companies with common goals. This region, known for coal-mining, is not a staple piece in the topic of sustainability, but the Ravenscraft brothers truly believe that this idea should change. They understand that sustainability is a required value for every outdoor brand, not just those out West. Without following sustainable and eco-friendly practices now, there will be no outdoors for outdoor brands to represent and celebrate forty to fifty years from now. From a region inglorious for its eco-destructive coal mining, bringing a representation of sustainability to Appalachia will be crucial to changing people’s image of the region. New Frontier recognizes that they cannot bring this change alone, but one of the beautiful things about Kentucky’s entrepreneur, technology, and business eco-system is that a company will seldom have to bring that change alone.
Kentucky’s entrepreneur eco-system is driven by a common motivation – each company believes in this region’s ability to play a greater role in, and be more impactful on, the overall United States entrepreneur eco-system. A perfect example of this is New Frontier’s partnership with Appharvest, a company focused on using technology to create more sustainable agriculture practices. While not in the same market, they have been able to dovetail each other’s interests on the other’s efforts leading to great mutual, and regional, benefit. Appharvest has been able to expose New Frontier to new technology based products and services allowing New Frontier to expand into markets that otherwise would have been unavailable. New Frontier also has been able to help Appharvest by creating a brand for Appharvest that is used to show Silicon Valley entrepreneurs the true value of a company from the Appalachia region.
Both companies have seen great benefits and success in the partnership, and the Ravenscraft brothers truly believe that the culture of Kentuckians made that possible. The people of this region are not hyper-competitive like many other major entrepreneur eco-systems, but that is not to say that the people here are not dedicated to hard work and developing success. Instead, the roll-your-sleeves-up attitude of the people in this region tie the people together to promoting the common goal of promoting Kentucky’s success. The people of Kentucky not only want to see each other succeed, but they also are willing to help others reach that success. Ultimately, it was the people of Kentucky who were willing to help gave New Frontier the opportunity to grow to a point where New Frontier is able to help other Kentuckians grow.
Josh and Jaren Ravenscraft discuss the benefits of Appalachia’s nature, culture, and people as well as how they are changing the mantra of small towns means small minds through the use of technology in detail on episode 113.
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