Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Responsibility is Ours

The Crowds at Inauguration

The Crowds at Inauguration

On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, I joined the literally millions of people who embarked on Washington DC to witness an historic moment, the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  I stood side by side with people representing different ages, races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds in frigid temperatures for over 6 hours.  Located at the 4th Jumbotron by the “Castle,” I was nearly a mile from the steps of the Capitol, where the swearing in occurred, and was surrounded by an ocean of people as far as I could see.  Despite the temperature, crowds, and long wait, I would not have rather been anywhere else on Tuesday morning.

Obama on the Jumbotron
Obama on the Jumbotron

Staying true to his incredible oratory skills, President Obama gave a riveting inaugural address.  He spoke of a “new age”, the need “to make hard choices”, and for Americans “to choose our better history.”  He called for action, the restoration of “science to its rightful place”, and the harnessing of “the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

One thing President Obama spoke of has continued to run in my head.  “For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.”  Translation: the success of our government and its ability to “work” is dependent upon the commitment and participation of every American.  These words from President Obama made me think less about our government and more about our business community.  Specifically, it has made me think about the state of environmentally/socially sustainable-oriented organizations.

In recent years, there has been tremendous advancement in the availability of sustainable products and services.  And according to several surveys, consumers readily support these innovations.  A survey by Information Resources, Inc concluded that approximately 50% of US consumers consider at least one sustainability factor when selecting a consumer good.  Another survey by global consulting firm Accenture showed that consumers are willing to pay, on average, 11% more for these products and services.

I love to see these numbers, but unfortunately, I do not think they tell the whole story.  If 50% of US consumers consider at least one sustainability factor when buying an item, doesn’t it seem like we would have more sustainable products on the market?  The problem is there is a big difference between what consumers say and what they do.  The classic example of this is Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  In blind taste tests, people prefer Pepsi.  However, year after year, Coke outsells Pepsi.

My assessment of this survey data is that people say they want sustainable options, but most do not follow through at the point-of-purchase.  This brings us back to the line in Obama’s inaugural address.  For as much as risk taking entrepreneurs and companies can and must do to develop more sustainable-oriented products and services, ultimately it is the support of customers upon which these businesses rely.  Translation: if we want these new type of companies and their product/ service offerings to survive, the responsibility is ours to support them.  This means buying these products over the conventional ones.

Some may say certain products do not perform as well as the conventional ones.  I would respond by saying support these products by giving the company prompt and honest feedback on how they can improve.  Some may say these products are too expensive.  I would tell these people to consider the full cost of the “cheaper” alternative (that $5 “bargain” t-shirt cannot include the environmental cost of conventional cotton, nor the social cost of unhealthy labor practices).

This post is not a plea to try to get you to buy something from Atayne, although if you are in need of a new performance top, we would love you support!  This post is to remind everyone that we live in a free market economy and have the power to demand the products and services we want.  However, the responsibility is ours to make it happen.  When you need (let’s avoid conspicous consumption) to purchase a new product, service, etc., please remember to vote for the environmental and social responsibility with your wallet.

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2009 Preliminary Designs

Here’s a sneak peak at our 2009 Men’s and Women’s Designs.  In the coming weeks and months, we will:

  • Expand the POV (point of view) statements we offer on our performance tops.  If you have ideas, please let us know!
  • Launch our Trash Tee allowing races and organizations to customize their own Atayne recycled performance top.
  • Introduce men’s and women’s bottoms into the Atayne line.

MEN’S

Men's POV Top

Men's POV Top

Men's Trash Tee

Men's Trash Tee

Men's Tread Lite Shorts

Men's Tread Lite Shorts

Men's Rec Shorts

Men's Rec Shorts

WOMEN’S

Women's POV Top

Women's POV Top

Women's Trash Tee

Women's Trash Tee

Women's Tread Lite Short

Women's Tread Lite Shorts

Women's Dirt Skirt

Women's Dirt Skirt

Are We in a Recession or a Depression?

It is hard to not notice the air of negativity nearly everywhere you go these days.  You could feel it in the shopping malls during the holiday season.  Consumer confidence hit an all time low in December.  Housing prices continue to drop.  Retirement accounts are on a roller coaster ride.  It is as if everyone across the US (and perhaps even the developed world) has fallen into a mild psychological depression in sympathy with our economic woes.

This is understandable.  Many people feel like they are losing so much for which they have worked so hard.  The cause was out of most people’s control, and many think it was due to the greediness of a few individuals.  Regardless of the cause, many economies are struggling and this has people worried, anxious, and slightly to severely depressed.

I want to take a step back and ask, “Why?”  Why is it that during tough economic times people suffer such psychological effects?  I think part of the answer is based upon how we measure standard of living.  In most cases, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is used to measure the standard of living.  Under this definition, during a recession (reduction in a country’s GDP), people’s standard of living is in decline.  It seems pretty logical that if your standard of living is in decline or threatened (and a message reiterated by nearly every media source on a daily basis), you might begin to feel depressed or anxious.

Personally, I have a problem with this definition of standard of living.  There is an underlying assumption that our standard of living and ultimate happiness is based exclusively on financial measures.

I propose that we think about things differently.  As a start, let’s consider the folks at Redefining Progress and their Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). Instead of considering just economic factors, GPI considers how well people are also doing socially.  It takes into account such things as:  income distribution; housework, volunteering, and higher education; crime; resources depletion; pollution; long-term environmental damage; changes in leisure time; defense expenditures; lifespan of consumer durables & public infrastructure; and dependence on foreign assets.

Whether these are the perfect additional measures is not the question to explore right now.  What is important is that we acknowledge that the total costs of goods and services produced, a.k.a. GDP, is not the best measure of our quality of life or progress.  Case in point: the US is the world’s richest nation but only the 16th happiest.

In this time of recession, let’s remind ourselves that money does not bring happiness.  Instead, let us challenge ourselves to spend a couple moments every morning upon waking to identify a few sources of optimism and things for which to be grateful.  I have a feeling none of us will need to look very hard.  Me?  For starters, I have wonderful family and friends, I am following my dream of entrepreneurship  with Atayne (albeit in a super tight credit environment), and there is an 8th season of Scrubs.

Obama Works out in Atayne…

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Not quite yet, but don’t you think if he knew about Atayne he would?  As the story goes, Obama is quite the fitness junky. Outside of one horrible vice, smoking, which he is very close to kicking, Obama will likely prove to be a great model of fitness for the US, where over 1 out every 3 adults are obese.

On January 20, 2009, the US (and the world at large) will witness incredible change as Barack Obama is inaugurated as the first black President of the United States.  The US was founded on the premise that “all men (and women) are created equal”, it just took us 225+ years to make that a reality at the highest echelon.  The Obama/Biden victory t-shirt rings true, “Change Can Happen.”

In this time of change, I would like to challenge our new President to make two personal changes.

  1. Quit smoking.  Do it for your children and for the children of the world.  Be a true example of health and fitness for a country that needs it.
  2. Change your fitness gear.  Wear something in line with your values.  Something to help inspire environmental and social change.  Wear Atayne!

There is not much we can do about the first one.  That is something he must tackle on his own.  But as for the second, maybe we have a shot.

According to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, “everyone is an average of six ‘steps’ away from each person on Earth.”  I think somewhere in the Atayne community we have a connection to President-elect Obama that is closer than 6 steps.  So here is the challenge: before Inauguration Day let’s get the President-elect in an Atayne top.  Think about who you know and who your friends and family might know.  If someone can help us “change” President Obama’s workout attire, then they will get a complimentary Atayne LS and SS top and of course the satisfaction that they are connected to the next President of the United States.