After a career in the NFL, former San Francisco 49ers player Jason Hairston today is finding success in the world of hunting apparel, as founder and president of Kuiu. Hairston discussed his transition from the football field to founding a growing hunting brand.
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“It was a bit of a challenge of a transition, I got out of football and got into commercial real estate and really was looking for something I was passionate about, something that interested me, something that I would be excited about on Mondays,” Hairston told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
That search led Hairston to hunting apparel.
“I always liked the mountains, always enjoyed hunting, was never satisfied with the products that were available at the hunting retailers so I went and started a brand called Sitka back in 2005 … It was essentially moving materials and fabrics and designs from the outdoor market, what you’d find in an REI, and move it over to the hunting market,” he said.
Hairston later sold Sitka, and he says the experience changed his outlook on retail and made him determined to go direct to the consumer in his next venture.
“[Sitka] grew incredibly fast, Gore-Tex bought it from me in 2009 and that led me to realize all the challenges of retail, and kind of concede the downfall of retail in advance after my experience there, and [I] started Kuiu as a consumer-direct brand,” he said.
Despite keeping prices down through the company’s direct-to-consumer business model, Hairston says Kuiu is high-end.
“We are the Gucci of hunting,” he said, adding that the magic is in the product materials.
“So my focus on building this brand, [because] I wanted to do it without a lot of money, was to build such an amazing product people would have to talk about it and people would come to us to buy it because it was so much better. And what you’re seeing and what you feel is so different than what we’ve ever had in hunting before because of the quality of the fabrics and materials,” he said.