by Jake Thompson

It's More Than Just a Shirt

I've received some amazing emails over the years since starting Com...
It's More Than Just a Shirt
I'll never forget receiving this specific email.

I've received some amazing emails over the years since starting Compete Every Day of people encouraged by the brand, something I wrote, or wanting to encourage me or our team. Perhaps I've even gotten one from you.

As someone who works from hotel rooms, airports, and is most times, traveling alone, you never know if what you're doing encourages someone or doesn't - so those emails mean more to me than you can imagine.

However, this specific email has been engrained in my mind for a different reason.

Back in 2019, we released the first version of our Strong Seas shirt. The shirt did well for both us and some of our retailers, like Rogue Fitness. Things looked great on the surface.

But what most people didn't know at the time is that I was drowning in real life. Our business took a massive step back in 2018-2019 as I made changes to pursue the work I currently do as a leadership performance coach & keynote speaker.

I had credit card companies calling me about unpaid bills. I was skipping my own payroll to make sure our team and contractors got paid. My marriage was in a rocky spot.

I was mentally cracking under the pressure of the debt, failure, second-guessing of my own decisions to change the business, and personal life.

I wasn't sure we were going to make it through this specific storm, much less how much longer I wanted to deal with the apparel side of our business.

Then I got his email.

He had written to share how one of our shirts had encouraged him to make a life-altering decision. A few weeks prior, he'd decided to end it all.

As he shared, he was at his lowest point with depression and personal heartbreak that he was done. On the afternoon he was preparing to take his life, he decided to scroll social media and ran across a Rogue Fitness ad featuring our Strong Seas shirt.

"Something about that shirt hit me. The idea of being 'stronger than the storms that tried to break me' really shook me. That could be me if I didn't give up."

He went on to share that he made the decision to not take his life that day, and ended up ordering the shirt to wear as a reminder that no matter what, his life is worth competing for - and he just wanted to say thank you to our team.

Tears streamed down my face as I read his email sitting at my kitchen table. I was overwhelmed by his courage to keep fighting, and I was embarrassed at some of the thoughts I'd allow to run loose in my own head uninterrupted.

That email changed our business.

You see, over the last few years, I've had opportunities to sell the merchandise side of the brand to interested companies wanting it. I even considered closing it down to 100% focus on my speaking & books.

But it's stories just like his or my new friend Mike Bednarz who came on our podcast a few months ago that remind me to keep going with it.

My wife, our team, and my close personal friends continue to encourage me that, "you can never get rid of the clothes" because of the power that a single message on a shirt can do for someone.

And they're right - so I never will stop making comfortable shirts with empowering messages that remind you to keep competing for your goals and life every day.

When I started this brand back in 2011, it was never really about shirts.

Shirts simply became the first vehicle I used to encourage people to put aside their ego and chase excellence in their every day life.

I didn't think much of apparel at first, but every day since, I've learned about how much more it means to wear something capable of reminding you of who you have the potential to become:

A Competitor.

I hope you always remember that your life is worth competing for and that I'm always cheering for you to do just that

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