Giejo Magazine interviewed founder and owner of Armoured Threads, Nate Yee. Giejo interviews business owners making an impact in the community.
Learn about Nate's story as an entrepreneur, his love for fitness, and how Armoured Threads all started.
You can either read it below or click this link to view it: armoured-threads-is-a-military-inspired-fitness-apparel-and-accessories-brand
Business Name and what it does:
Armoured Threads is a military-inspired fitness apparel and accessories brand. It combines tactical aesthetics and fitness gear. They transform military gear into consumer fitness products. Armoured Threads represents overcoming the obstacles that we face each day. We get knocked down, but when we get back up, we become more resilient to the challenges and punches thrown at us. The brand looks at inspiring and motivating individuals to workout and get into the gym. Armoured Threads partners with several brand influencers to help with pursuing a healthier lifestyle and motivation to stay consistent.
Their best-selling product is the weighted vest, which takes a bulletproof vest and transformed it into a consumer tactical weighted vest. There are iron-weighted plates that slide in and out of the plate carrier vest, just like a bulletproof vest, but not bulletproof. The vest itself is made out of Kevlar and is a bit smaller than a bulletproof vest to provide flexibility and agility. Armoured Threads will be transforming many more durable and high-quality tactical products that the military and law enforcement rely on within their day-to-day jobs to bring into the consumer fitness market use.
Founder's/Owner's story and what motivated them to start the business
Nate Yee, a current college student and entrepreneur, started the brand in early 2021. Before Armoured Threads, he owned and operated Brothers Landscaping, a zero-emissions landscaping company in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts. In the final years of his landscaping company, he had 50 clients and a crew of 9 people. He was stressed and needed a way to relieve it. He decided to start going to the gym. Nate found a new passion, fitness. He had a love for landscaping and then he started to go to the gym once a week, then twice a week, then before you know it, he was going 5 days a week.
He looked for gym apparel to wear, and he turned to Live Fit Apparel. Nate greatly looks up to founder and CEO Randall Pich and how Pich dropped out of his last year of college to pursue his dream of running his own brand.
Four years later, after starting his fitness journey, Nate wanted new gym apparel. Nate loves tactical gear and the aesthetic that it brings of a rugged look and durability. He grew up with members of his family, family friends, and friends who were or are in the U.S. Military or law enforcement. As a child, he would attend dinners with law enforcement officers. They would show him their armoured vehicles and tactical gear. He wanted to continue to support the troops and first responders who protect and serve us.
He was searching the internet and didn’t find a brand he wanted to wear that had tactical aesthetics as well as fitness gear. So, that’s when he combined tactical aesthetics with fitness gear to create, Armoured Threads. A percentage of the profits go back into the military and law enforcement communities to help wounded soldiers and better training and research for law enforcement officers. Nate chose the Wounded Warrior Project and National Police Foundation to give philanthropy to.
The challenges the business/market is facing
Gym wear is a very broad category and there is a lot of competition. Apparel is one of the hardest businesses to get into, as there is a lower barrier to entry.
COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on the whole supply chain of manufacturing goods. Luckily, Armoured Threads could get their first shipment of accessories from overseas before the whole California shipping port of entry slowed down.
Some of the apparel manufacturers that Armoured Threads uses are on a production delay, causing Armoured Threads to switch to different colors of clothing or products that are popular and high in demand, such as military green clothing.
COVID-19 also has brought about different ways to be fit and work out. When gyms were closed, at-home workouts were very popular. The use of products for the gym had to be moved to at-home use.
As a new business, it is hard to build credibility and trust. So the use of influencers, celebrities, and customer feedback is very valuable. Especially as a small business, there are fewer resources at hand, so decisions have to be thought through thoroughly.
The opportunities the business/market is facing
Tactical aesthetics within apparel and accessories is growing. Nate found a white space in the market when he could not find a brand solely focusing on creating tactical, fitness apparel and accessories while giving back to troops and officers. The growing trend of tactical aesthetics in clothing and apparel is growing, and Armoured Threads hopes to give and capture value from that market.
The marketing landscape has also changed drastically over the past 5 years. Influencer marketing has been common within businesses nowadays to increase brand awareness, as well as credibility, and eventually sales.
Armoured Threads has been seen on many micro and macro social media influencers such as Dalton Musselwhite, the man who lost over 250 pounds, Official Lil Gym Bae, a U.S. Veteran and Certified Personal Trainer, and Harvey Donnelly, a Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil acrobat.
Influencers have been able to bring credibility and brand awareness to many brands. Influencers also have the ability to generate sales through the use of affiliate marketing.
Dalton Musselwhite’s first video post of Armoured Threads received over 22 million TikTok views, 3.9 million likes, 14.7k comments, and 12.4k shares.
It is incredible what impact influencer marketing can do to help small businesses. Nate Yee hired an employee to solely focus on influencer marketing and affiliate marketing. He highly recommends the use of influencer marketing to grow a brand.
Many people are confused about how to even get on to an influencer. A little-known secret to doing so would be to reach out through their social media channels and offer free products. If they like the product, they may or may not share about it. But if they do share the product in terms of a photo or video, you will be able to gain a lot of credibility and trust from it.
The photos and videos from an influencer are very valuable, not just to prove credibility or trust, but also as content for use for advertising purposes. You definitely need to get approval from the influencer before distributing or posting a piece of content. The content can be repurposed for advertising purposes to show new audiences, who also may be interested in a particular influencer, as well as your product. Group photos and videos have been shown to be more successful than an image or video with one person. People are tended to trust and follow a crowd. If you see a line out the door for a restaurant, you may be more inclined to go to it, rather than a restaurant with no line.
In this new age of technology, so many resources are at our fingertips. There’s YouTube to watch and learn from people who have already done what you want, there are podcasts, and audiobooks. Take advantage of the new technology to grow your business, as having technology in place is now the baseline for any company.
Advice to others
Advice Nate Yee would provide to everyone that is thinking of getting into fitness is to just do it. He lives by the “you only live once” and “seek discomfort” quotes. He also says “don’t stop, keep going!” He knows that burnout is real, but to keep thinking about your goals and how to get there is very important.
Advice Nate Yee would provide to business owners would be to understand the market that they are getting into. He says to “submerge yourself” into the market. Knowing who your competitors are, the wants and needs of the market, as well as the trends are some of the key factors that will help to make you stand out from the rest.
Another important factor is really understanding your customers and feedback. Listening couldn’t be more important. Knowing what your customers want is crucial to the growth of your company. Returning customers and even first-timers may give you feedback or suggestions. Take it! And the only way to is by first listening, and then taking action to make the adjustments.
It’s also important to not just listen externally, but internally to your company. This may include the warehouse team, manufacturers, employees, accountants, lawyers, and anyone else who helps build your company. Some people are more experienced than you and can teach you a lot about making a decision.
Continuing the point about “just doing it,” is how you can only learn so much, you have to just take action. There comes a point when you have learned enough to just get started. Once you get started, you are going to find out that there is so much more to learn, and you have just skimmed the surface of what you need to do!
Don’t be afraid to fail because you will learn faster. You rather fail earlier so you can succeed earlier. Fight or flight is very real when encountering new challenges, but after you do get through the challenge, you reach a new level of understanding and experience, which is crucial to your success and growth.
Continue Executing Your Fitness Mission.