The Origin Story
Keep Exploring started as a Facebook message between two friends prior to a summer road trip from Los Angeles to Dallas. We wanted to document our trip in a way that tied us to each location we passed through, while encouraging us to slow down and take the long way. After a few bad ideas (i.e. Spray Paint), we settled on a large red flag. Bret started sketching logos and I started Googling pit stops.
Believe it or not these two home schooled kids couldn't sew before making that first flag.
We drove to the Fashion District of LA and began window shopping for fabric. We went with the first shop-owner that acknowledged us and quickly bought the first red fabric that seemed durable enough to handle the long trip home. In hindsight, we could've done better - the original KE flag is red suede on the front and DENIM on the back. Rough start for these two budding seamstresses.
The next 15 hours were spent tracing, cutting, and sewing our big bossy flag by hand. Keep Exploring was officially born - and we had never felt more accomplished.
The "First Trip" with the Flag
Excuse the filter - it was 2013. We didn't know any better.
We had a blast dragging the flag up and down mountains. We couldn't seem to make it more than a few miles without pulling over for another impromptu photo shoot. The flag was working - we were actually slowing down, seeing more, and pushing ourselves to be better explorers. The photos were fun and the trip was better for it.
We shared the photos from our trip on Tumblr and Instagram without much thought. We liked the flag, but it was OUR flag, so we didn't expect what happened next.
Apparently, people resonated with the idea, because the requests started rolling in - people wanted a flag, they wanted to be a part of Keep Exploring.
We didn't know how to run a business
(we still don't)
Keep Exploring was starting to get some legs. People wanted to be a part of it and we wanted to see it grow into something bigger than two guys with a big red flag. We started small by making mini-flag stickers, while we brainstormed how to mass-produce flags. At 15 hours a pop, we certainly couldn't hand stitch all of the letters - so we turned to screen printing.
After some digging, we found a friend who was willing to take a chance on us. He printed up 12 flags and we sewed the edges (on a borrowed machine). We numbered the backs and posted on Instagram. Those first twelve sold out in an hour.
Hooray! But we were out of flags again...
Sewing On The Floor
We bought sewing machines, cleared out the spare bedroom, and got to work. We learned as we went, we cut fabric on the floor, and we drank cheap beer to the sound of the sewing machine hum. These were the "hustling" years.
Flags started shipping out all over the world. The KE Family was growing! We put on our big boy business pants and started working on a plan. We started sharing adventure stories from the Fam, we collaborated with lots of talented folks, and FINALLY hired a local factory to produce our flags, so that we could focus on the adventure!
Over 1,300 flags spread across 43 countries.
These bossy pieces of red fabric have been drug all over the world by explorers of all pedigrees. College kids, single moms, professional athletes, and adventure junkies. The KE Family is as diverse as they come and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Truth be told - we're not the most adventurous dudes on the block. We travel when we can and we make the most of when we can't. We live vicariously through the adventures of you guys, while making notes for our next big trip. Our favorite part about Keep Exploring is experiencing the world through the eyes, ears, and tastebuds of normal people just like us.
Putting our money where our mouth is.
We know that exploring isn't cheap. There is gas, entrance fees, s'mores supplies, camping spots, and plane tickets that can get in the way of you and adventure. The real world takes money and that's why we started our Trip Sponsorship program. We want to enable more people to keep exploring. Since starting this program we've helped get families to the Grand Canyon, filmmakers to Alaska, and students all the way to Australia.
The sponsorships are small ($100-$250), but we hope they will be the extra boost you need to finally take that trip you've been putting off.
We didn't have a plan when Keep Exploring
started and we still don't.
We try to help people find adventure. We sponsor trips, share stories, and sell flags. We want to keep doing more of that.
We want to create fun products that are well designed, well made, and take care of the people that make them. This is a family from the factories to the front lines of adventure. We still believe in the simple idea that adventure can be found anywhere. We are trying to be better explorers by seeking out opportunities in everyday life. This is a collaborative movement - Everyone is invited. Start looking for new roads to take, old mountains to climb, and wild food to chew.
This is your adventure, we're just posting it on Instagram.
The KE Boys