BUILDING KUIU

Why KUIU Exists

With so many new customers and subscribers to the Building KUIU blog I want to remind everyone why KUIU exists. In building Sitka, I realized how much the retail model strangles innovation. No Toray, No The Merino Company, No Icon Carbon Fiber, no cutting edge innovation. Price is too important to drive sales.

As Mountain Hunters and Guides, we rely on gear in the most demanding conditions on the planet. Before Sitka, I always asked why is our gear decades behind the Outdoor Industry? We should be leading not following.  We hunt despite the weather and many times because of the weather.  There is no lodge at the top of the mountain, weather does not cancel our trips, we go anyways.

We need uncompromised products made with the finest materials and manufacturing. Products designed without price targets so there are no limitations on what goes into our products.  KUIU was created so I can design and build products with as much reliability as money can buy.

Because of this, I have nothing to hide what goes into KUIU products.  Opening up the inside of this business, sharing our world-class suppliers; Toray, The Merino Company, Pittards Leather, Cordura, YKK, Duraflex, and Bemis.  I want you to have confidence in KUIU products.  So much confidence you recommend KUIU.  So much confidence KUIU becomes your brand.

The Internet has forever changed retail, we no longer have to rely on a retail sales person for the latest product information. The Internet has given us the power to search and research products and brands, read unbiased reviews, post reviews, post complaints and become complete experts of the gear we buy.

Because of the Internet, retailers no longer have to be experts of the products they sell because the customer is.  The Internet has changed retail into a self-service business, hang it on the rack or wait for an order on-line and ship it.

If the retailer no longer adds value to the sale why pay them 40% to 50% more?  

KUIU product prices do not include retail mark up.  You are buying KUIU products at the same price as I would sell to a retailer. Selling KUIU in this model allows me to continue to develop product without cutting any corners to meet price targets for retailers and allows more people to experience this amazing product line.  We all win this way.

Thank you for all of your support and helping me build a brand that is creating significant change to this industry and will turn KUIU into the technical leader no matter what industry.

Jason

94 comments to Why KUIU Exists

  • Great Post Jason! I love that KUIU is built around the two most important things, innovation and the customer! Keep up the great work!

  • Gregory S. Jackson

    Amen, Jason.
    For the reasons you have given and others – are the reasons KUIU is becoming my brand and why I am recommending it to others. I appreciate and respect the hard work and the transparency you choose to use as you share the building of KUIU.
    Keep up the great work – you have a avid supporter in Castle Rock, Colorado.
    All my best,
    Greg Jackson

  • Tim Hansford

    Just knowing this is how you feel about the stuff you make, makes me happy to buy, support, and recommend your products. Thanks for creating such a great company and PLEASE keep it up.

    Tim.

  • Ken Allen

    KUIU has become my brand, I have sold all of the rest of the gear that I had. When you are more comfortable and feel more confident in the backcountry you can stay longer and hunt and scout harder. The ability to reduced weight and add better technical gear in my backpack is huge.

    Really appreciating the products and looking forward to future innovation.

    Thanks!

  • Levi Bowler

    Stay Beautiful.

  • Chris Stagg

    Amen +1. I am a believer, and to you point of “we all win this way”…hell yeah, I feel like a “winner” when I buy KUIU. Keep it up Jason, I think you are well on your way. The products will carry the day in the end, but I am sure that your business model will make a serious dent in the “no value added” model of retail sales (generally, I do know a few sales folk that add value :) ).
    Cheers
    Chris

  • Justin Martinez

    Well as a hard core bivouac hunter and a gear freak I have found over the years that good quality gear isn’t cheap and expensive gear isn’t quality. KUIU has set the bar in both categories. Great gear at a great price. And KUIU has proven itself in all conditions time and time again. “Trust Your Brand” or this brand at that! Thanks Jason for building such great products around your customers at an affordable price.

  • Cameron Meier

    Love it Jason! Keep it up and keep designing! By the time other hunting clothing companies catch on you will be light years ahead of them.

  • Matt

    Happy to buy KUIU. Why would I buy from somewhere else? I know what it is, where it is, how it is and thanks to Jason why it is.

    I’m not the smartest guy around but I do know that cutting out the retailer with the intention of using that difference in sales price to start with better material is fantastic. The best swag on the planet at a better price, even I can figure that out.

    Thanks again for the post. Love getting my KUIU fix!!

    Matt

  • Kyle

    Amen Jason! A big supporter here. Somehow you talked me into 185 top, 285 top (x2), 185 bottom, guide vest, guide jacket, attack pants, merino beanie (x2), guide hat (x2), spindrift jacket, and chugach rain gear (top and bottom). All I need now is your gaitors and I will be set. Are we getting closer on those? :)

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Kyle,

      The Gaitors are in production and will be here in June. I will confirm the date as soon as I have an ETD. Photos coming soon.

      JH

  • Lloyd

    Jason I am getting a little longer in the tooth than some of your regulars but as a long time gear junky. I like your products they are as good as they come and the fact that you have nothing to hide and that you take the time to talk to us. Makes me even more commited to your products. I know your products are not market hype and that you stand by your products. That in its self in this day and age is worth alot. Now bring on those new products I have been saving all winter. :)

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Lloyd,

      They are coming! The brand new Guide Pants arrive next week. We are only getting a small 1st shipment. I will post it up here on the blog when they are available.

      Jason

  • lindsey

    Jason, you can say that again. I recommend Kuiu to everyone and Kuiu is my brand of choice from here on out. I sold all my other camo and i am strictly wearing Kuiu for its durability, quality, color, and it just simply works. Kudos!

  • Jerry Gowins

    KUIU is my brand. Nothing better on the market. I will go out in nastier weather than I would have before because of the confidence I have in my KUIU gear.

  • joseph ewing

    I love the gear and the transparency but how come you havent released the new products? At least let us know what is coming.

  • Matt Dowse

    We appreciate all that you have put out there for us. Going forward something that I think will be appreciated is to keep the Vias camo pattern a part of the line up for a long time to come.
    A frustration I had with the Sitka line up was that they were changing the available patterns too often. This meant that if your ASAT 90% pants wore out, but your jacket and vest were fine, you were stuck with either having to go with all new or mismatched camo.

    I know it’s a great way to make more money, but it doesn’t sit right with all customers.

  • Jason, thank you for the reminder. Kuiu has raised the bar! In such a short time, Kuiu has become the standard for fine Mountain Hunting Gear. I am continually blown away by the products themselves, the innovation, and ownership of one of the finest companies on the planet. Well done! Furthermore, really enjoyed your interview in this month’s Traditional Bowhunter Magazine. My father raised me on many of the same stories! God bless, T.Downing

  • Janis Putelis Jr.

    Thanks Jason,

    I appreciate your committment to us your clients and fellow hunters. Although I don’t do mountain hunting to the extent a majority of the hunters do, I know the value of 1st class gear. Thanks to you we can all afford KUIU. The net result is the remaining manufacturers must also follow and produce better products.

  • J.R. Young

    “why is our gear decades behind the Outdoor Industry? We should be leading not following. We hunt despite the weather and many times because of the weather. There is no lodge at the top of the mountain, weather does not cancel our trips, we go anyways.”

    Spot on, this always confused me. For skiing and snowboarding I always sought out the best gear because often I intentionally sought nasty conditions. In hunting, I won’t cancel a trip because of weather, I’ll just change my strategy. In hiking though? I’ll easily cancel a trip because of weather.

    I’m not sure why hunters as a whole never adopted this philosophy, but it’s clear there is a change in the industry. You have many old school jeans and wool guys like my Dad and that probably contributes a lot to the prior lack of demand. But, when I outfitted my Dad in full KUIU for a 10day Northern BC moose and elk hunt he clearly saw the difference.

    Thanks for what you have done Jason.

  • Depends… I was an early adopter of the internet and online shopping, and over the years have ended up with a few items that did not live up to my expectations and all the hype. I can read all about most products on-line, shop for price, and can read reviews from other users, but at the end of the day many people want/need to touch and feel the products before making a purchase.

    The thing that will make or break Kuiu in the long term is continued excellent quality, innovation, excellent customer service, transparency, and referrals. Even Kuiu attends lots of trade shows where your potential customers can try them on for size, see/feel what your products like, and catch the vibe.

    There are so few companies that have their act together in the above ways that Kuiu stands out. I think that commodity shopping is the most significant threat to retail, not those that breath the rarified air at the top of the mountain!

    However, retail is far from dead because so many on-line businesses still operate at the retail altitude! People also like to head into the local hunting store, browse the isles, shoot the bull with old acquaintances, maybe even have a cup of joe while lying about the size of their horn! ;-)

  • Lee Hammons

    …..and another reason I am a die hard Kuiu fan!

  • Justin Starck

    “We need uncompromised products made with the finest materials and manufacturing. Products designed without price targets so there are no limitations on what goes into our products.”

    Fit is compromise that many have had to make with KUIU. Please provide sizing options that will allow more customers to have that perfect fit. Why should we have to compromise fit to get products made with the finest materials and manufacturing? Keeping the product line small and focused should allow this, especially if price is not a restriction.

    Other than that, KUIU is the Brand. Nothing better.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Justin,

      I am a big believer in fit and certainly try to cover as wide of range of customer body types as possible without forgetting who KUIU’s core customer is. I saw this happen when developing gear for customers and we kept adjusting for the masses and pretty soon we ended up with a bad fit for our core customer. Who is complaining about the fit? Where is it falling short?

      Jason

      • Justin Starck

        Personally, I would like to see tall sizes in the merino; the sleeves are too shirt for me. Also, a longer body length in the Chugach Jacket would be nice; it should be longer than the Guide Jacket. I can also see why some want a size small. I weigh 195# and wear the medium Chugatch bottoms; I can see why there could be a demand for small sizing.

  • Bill Van Ooijen

    How about kuiu bucks allowing customers who recommended new customers get a % of their next purchase when their customer number is used by others?

    Love the gear

  • Mark Toso

    Jason,

    I love your direct to customer business model but if price is NOT too important to drive sales then why to you limit the sizes you make? Is it really that much more to make a size small? Your claim that this “allows more people to experience this amazing product line” is misleading as you have taking the usual retail route by not making products that everyone can enjoy based on sales assumptions that might not be true. It’s very frustrating that you have gear I’d love to own, but you won’t make them in all the normal sizes. As high end active gear those of us who are fit and able to use this gear for its intended purpose are left out because the country has gotten bigger around the waist. That leads me to wonder what is really your market? Not anyone a bit smaller than average, or kids, women, etc.

    What I also find odd is if you made size S you would own the market as no one (not even Sitka) makes size S in quality hunting gear. Yet I can buy all the high end mountain technical gear I want in a size S, so it must be worth it for their business model. I just don’t get it.

    • Jason Hairston

      Mark I am not trying discriminate against smalls. It is an inventory challenge as a new company and I hope to be offering smalls in the not to distant future. The factory has a minimum quantity for each size and for each style. To make a run of smalls is a big investment. As a new brand we cannot sit on inventory, it has to sell to generate revenue. This past year we had less than 20 requests for men’s smalls and I over bought mediums in every style. We could not keep Large or X-Large in stock in any style.

      The latest inventory run I had to invest in where the demand was and could not afford to invest money on a size small run with less than 2 requests a month. At some point KUIU will get to where we can afford to sit on inventory to roll the dice on a size run to see what we are missing. Just not right now. I hope you can understand. I hate not being able to get you into KUIU almost as much as you may. I look forward to earning your business in the future. Thank you for sharing your frustrations and thoughts.

      Jason

  • Jared Crapo

    I live in an area that Sitka reins Supreme…..and I have almost all the KUIU line in my hunting closet now….I love going to the local archery club events and wearing this gear just out and about! People are very interested and the way you make and sell your gear gives me the knowledge to educate them on you product, A+ on KUIU…

  • J.R. Young

    My guess is the market for small sizes is very limited. For a small producer there is limited economic value in making smaller sizes. Companies such as Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, and REI are major producers with major contracts for labor (probably most of which is automated) and can afford to produce in smaller sizes which they probably have a larger market for. You also have to consider the general outdoors market is far larger than the hunting market, hikers, skiers, snowboarders literally millions of more participants.

    • Justin Starck

      I am with Mark. It is a poor excuse if cost is really not an issue. I am just lucky to have the size and build that the exisitng KUIU sizing is more geared towards.

    • Jason Hairston

      Justin please see my comment to Mark, I hope it makes sense.

      Jason

  • J.R. Young

    Cost may be an issue though, because of an array of factors it has been hard for Jason to keep inventory in stock (part supply, part demand). If it is difficult to keep M, L, and XLs on the shelf (the core of the market) it doesn’t make sense to dedicate the most expensive cost (labor) to a minor part of the market.

    If you have 200 people wanting a large and 50 wanting a small and only materials for 175 you have to make a tough decision and probably make 175 pairs of large pants.

    Now, this may not be the issue at all, and is all based on my personal assumptions based on data points given here over the past year. Living and working in Silicon Valley watching young companies grow and emerge fascinates me. Especially those that get immediate traction, I’m anxious to watch KUIU make it’s next steps here in year 2 and beyond.

    My wife is 5’4″, I plan on getting her set up with M attack pants and guide jacket and having a tailor fit them for her. It sucks, and I wish I could just get her what fits, but I can also understand that the smaller sizes and womens markets can be very limited.

  • John Burnett

    Thank you Jason!
    Always drives me nuts to go to REI and they don’t have camo!
    Then again places like REI have gone ‘retail’

    Love the KUIU gear I have and will be buying more.

    btw – next on my list is pants.. been using army bdu’s for those hot September Elk hunts…. are the toray pants cool enough?

  • Josh Wright

    Great post, Jason. It needed to be said. Too many people were griping about what hasn’t been done, instead of praising you for what has already started as a revolution. KUIU is my brand. Keep rolling!

  • Greig

    Jason
    I love all the KUIU products I own so far. You have done a great job with this company and I am always putting KUIU in peoples ear. I love to support companies that keep the customer first. You are very open and communicate with us when needed. I look forward to spending more of my hard earned money to buy the gear that I feel confident and comfortable in. Thanks for all you do to make MY hunting experience the best it can be in any conditions.

    Greig

  • Andrew Ivy

    And we’r grateful to you for it Jason.
    Not only the Innovation and the Quality of the gear…but also the honestly and care you have for KUIU and to your customers. When you stand behind your product as you have…then all of us stand to benefit.

  • Ryan Kohatsu

    The model is great! Why pay 40-50% more for a retailer with no value added?
    The transparency is perfect with a no frills approach and purposeful design. Personally, I’m tone-deaf already to all the cheesy gimmicks out there and it is refreshing to simply read about what you’re getting and receiving exactly that. Some of us work too hard for the money and it is nice to know that the “homework” and “research” is done with your product.
    Much Aloha Jason!

  • Eric Elliott

    Jason, you and your products are the best. If you;re ever near Eugene, Oregon look me up. It would be an honor to have dinner with you.

    Although I was born and raised in Elk Grove, I played for the U of O Ducks so there would be pleanty to talk about. Aggies vs Ducks??? Don’t even think about it.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Eric, I will be hunting near Eugene this September on a Blacktail hunt. Lets get together. Ducks would kill the Aggies!

  • Kyle Peck

    The best period.

  • Meredith

    Jason—dare I say….thank god someone has the BALLS to do KUIU! Keep it up.

  • Caleb

    Love your business model! You’re making the best hunting-specific clothing with the best value, bar none. Never change! Keep the innovations coming too.

  • Mike Estrada

    Everybody likes to bitch thats a fact. You can’t please everybody all the time. I said it once already you a changing the way people look at clothing and packs forever. FOREVER.

  • Mark Lampman

    I love your business plan, and I am looking forward too some new KUIU gear, my Sitka gear is getting worn out.

  • Mike Estrada

    You and your TEAM have done more in a year than most can hope to do in ten years but still people aren’t happy why cause they are human and we like bitch about what we don’t have. I grew up on a ranch with my dad making a living being a ranch hand were the simplest of things would make his life better. He was grateful for those changes. Some of you will never experience the unforgiving twenty-four seven, 365 a year LIFESTYLE that people in those circumstances do. So you should understand the time and effort that Jason and his family and team has put in to make his dream reality. Too many of us live in a soft world and we go hunting on the days that we can, that’s a fact of life if you want to make a living in anything but that. Respect his decision and be grateful that somebody actually cares enough that they aren’t after the dollar. Thank you Jason for stepping on a limb and hoping it didn’t break. To all of you that bitch, kiss my ass.
    Sincerely, Mike Estrada.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hey Mike,

      Thank you. I love the honesty and support and passion for KUIU. Please feel free to express yourself next time on the blog, I love it.

      J

  • Great entry!

    Nothing else new to say but… THANKS!!!

    Pedro

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you Pedro. Hey the magazine arrived!!!! What a great article (even though my Spanish is not good enough to understand all of it). I really appreciate you taking the time to send it out.

      Not much longer for NWT!

  • heron153

    well put Jason…

    there will always be those who seek out the best without compromise or consideration of hype or advertising, you exist and so do we.

    thanks

  • Craig

    Jason you nailed it and I really appreciate the effort you and your team put into every product developed. KUIU has really set the bar high when it comes to perfomance hunting clothing IMO.

  • Greg

    After realizing I was within 20 minutes of the Kuiu store I had to stop by and see everything with my own eyes. After being able to see/touch first hand how everything is put together and how it fits. I’m sold and I like the “KISS” mentality to the product design. I’m a minimalist with all my hobbies and hunting is first and foremost with that thought process. It was great to meet Jason and every clothing item I buy from now will be Kuiu, guaranteed. Thanks again.

  • Jason Hairston

    Thank you Greg! It was nice to meet you as well and so glad to have you a part of KUIU!

    Jason

  • Nick

    Can’t wait to see what’s coming out next Jason
    Thanks for the great products!

  • Mike P

    Have been very happy with all my gear thus far…just need tall sizes in some of it for us long armed and legged fellows :)

    Looking forward to the 2012 line-up.

    Cheers

    Mike

  • Your transparency will continue to win KUIU customers trust and thus increasing demand. This, coupled with the best of the best, will keep KUIU as the premiere ultralight hunting clothing company!!
    And BTW…your slide show is complete. :-)

  • LawRence

    Thanks Jason for listening and making the 30″ waist on the Vias attack pants. Will you do the same with the guide pants now, but in other colours?

  • Jason

    When will the pack frames be available?

  • Mark Toso

    Jason -

    Thanks for the insight on why you don’t carry size S. But I’m curious as to how you figure there isn’t enough demand, is it solely by request? Before KUIU I have never made a request to a company, I just shop elsewhere (or give up). I have to think there are many who give up on KUIU because you don’t have gear that fits. I just tend to speak up more than most ;-) .

    I am no marketing genius but have to think you can create a market where one does not exist for hunting gear (of any quality) in size S, so do you factor that into your equation? I’d gladly pay more (for less) or go the custom route if you offered it. It’s impossible to alter your rain gear otherwise I’d do that. I can’t believe more than 10% of potential customers would ever say anything, so you might be looking at 10x the number of orders you think you’ll sell.

    Would you be open to pre-orders of a certain quantity? That’s not a perfect gauge of demand but would it help you make up your mind? I’ll post to every hunting site I know to get the minimum you need. I’ll do anything to buy your gear!

  • Brady Miller

    I am glad there is a hunting company lik KUIU that understands and looks out for it’s customers! Like others…I would love to see tall sizes.

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