We had the good fortune of connecting with Mac Gaugh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mac, how do you think about risk?
Having spent over twenty years of my life as a rock climber, risk has always been paramount with anything I do. Most outdoor activities I would find myself a part of were fairly high octane. Having struggled with addiction for a similar amount of time played right into that lifestyle. In terms of a career, I have only had one job I could consider a career and that was as an environmental engineer. Everything else was short-lived, mainly because I couldn’t seem to find anything that was stimulating enough. I spent ten additional years pursuing multiple degrees after obtaining my original degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in Botony/Microbiology. So, I finally decided to take a chance and start CREAG, the ultimate risk. I would say that taking risks has, and always will be a part of me no matter what I do. As I have gotten a bit older, I can decipher the difference between low and high-risk behavior. However, I will always take more from something when the risk is high.
What should our readers know about your business?
CREAG is a technical mountain apparel brand making premium garments designed, developed, and manufactured in the USA. The first element setting us apart is that our garments are sewn here in the States. Let’s just say there is a reason that clothing manufacturing has been outsourced for the past several decades; it’s expensive and nearly impossible to find any sewers capable of handling technical fabrics. The second aspect is that our designs are simplistic aesthetically, yet very complex and well constructed. Our designs are meant to be versatile, so you can spend a day out climbing and then go right into town and grab a bit or drink with friends. We also moved away from the mundane earth tones and went with something much more European. Now, if you eliminate COVID, having pricing 30% higher than your competitors (Patagonia, The North Face, La Sportiva, etc.) would be a huge undertaking. However, our official launch was in March of this year when everyone and everything was being shut down. I’ve spent the last year working twenty-hour days with no additional funding since I was not approved for a PPE Loan, despite being one million dollars invested. I also paid 100K in wages the prior year but it didn’t seem to matter. I’m one of the thousands of businesses that have been impacted because of COVID and the politics surrounding the pandemic. Despite the fact that we may not be able to hold on much longer there are a lot of lessons I have taken from the experience. First, don’t launch a brand right at the inception of a pandemic (joking). In all seriousness, If I had to do it again I would not manufacture here in the US. It’s not cost-effective and the facts are that most people want a high-quality product that is affordable. CREAG, is/was a brand about getting outside and having fun. The outdoor industry has become very competitive and ego-driven and we wanted to change that tune. Our Credo is, “Find something which brings you purpose in life. Be competitive with yourself. Push the limits of your ability. Most importantly, never take life too seriously.” Finally, our Tagline is “Be The Moment” and we wanted to leave it undefined so that each person could make it something meaningful to themselves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First, I would make sure it was fall and head down to the San Juan’s. There is no better place to see fall colors than that mountain range. We would spend a day or two in Crested Butte and then head to one of my secrets places to camp, Silver Jack Lake. From there we would continue on the back roads to Ouray, grab a bite to eat, and head to another one of my secret spots for the night. Lastly, after roughing it we would grab a couple of nice rooms to unwind and enjoy Telluride for a few days.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Well, first and foremost I have to thank my parents and my brother for their support over the years. Let’s just say that I have had a very colorful life, but no matter what they have always been there for me. My folks were also the ones that helped get CREAG off the ground monetarily. So, without their financial support, CREAG would have only been a concept. In terms of the business, I have to thank Noah Robertson for helping me find my footing and being there during tough times when I didn’t know what I was doing. Alyson Tatigian was our first designer and helped put together an amazing set of designs while she was nine months pregnant. Tatiana Padilla Moore, CREAG designer, has been the rock for the brand ever since. Quite honestly, I’m not sure where we would be without all the amazing work she has done. Lastly, I’d like to thank Lynn Mandziuk, artist, and Fidi Naj, photographer, for all of their amazing contributions and support. There are many more people I could mention, but the list would go on forever.
Fidi Naj, Adam Arlitt, Craig Hoffman, Marcus Garcia