I looked into the center compartment of my gym bag, and spotted the black handle of my rope wedged in between a pair of shoes, my weightlifting belt, and some other accessories. I grabbed the handle, and darted back to the room to finish my workout. Woah, not so fast self. The cable of my rope was pretzeled around the buckle of my belt. Shit. I shook the belt back and forth hoping the rope would come free - no luck. I pulled on the cable hoping it would miraculously untangle itself - nope. So, I spent the next 5 minutes unwinding, unraveling and separating my rope from my weight belt.
I finished the workout, but man-oh-man was I frustrated. If my rope wasn't tangled up, I would have completed the workout 5 minutes faster! That's what I kept telling myself, because at the time, that workout was the most important workout of my life (or at least it felt that way - as every workout does, right?!).
Later that night, in my small 1- bedroom apartment, I was laying in bed checking some e-mails on my laptop. In the back of my mind I couldn't stop thinking about how frustrating the whole jump rope incident was. Then, my mind responded (odd, I know) "If your gym bag had dedicated space specifically for your jump rope, it would have never been tangled!" Now there's an idea. I started searching google for crossfit gym bag, gym bag with compartments, best gym bag ever, etc.
I found nothing, crickets if you will. It was now 12:05am and I couldn't find a bag that I liked. I closed my laptop and decided to call it a night, but my mind wasn't resting. If I can't find a gym bag with the compartments I want, I wonder if I could make one.
12:07am, I grabbed my laptop, opened it up and google searched athletic bag manufacturer.
Over the next week I sketched out what my dream bag would like like. All of it's dimensions, compartments, zippers, buckles, straps, etc. I was in contact with a handful of companies that specialize in athletic bag manufacturing for some of the biggest brands in the world. I sent them my sketch, along with all of my specs, and began the prototyping process. At this point I had no vision of starting a brand or company. No logo or brand name was to be displayed on the bags -- I was simply making a bag for my own personal use.
Four different manufacturers made a prototype, each constructed with a different fabric - as I was unsure which would be best. I'd keep one bag for myself to use, and gift the other three to my family and friends.
Four long weeks later the first prototype showed up at my door. A few days later the other three arrived. I was in shock. The bag I envisioned was in my hands, and I couldn't wait to bring it to the gym. I felt so proud. Then, after the initial excitement, you could say reality set in: I had spent close to $2,000 for a gym bag...gulp.
After choosing the bag I liked best, I moved my gear and accessories from the gym bag that frustrated me over to my shiny new black bag-with-no-name. My jump rope was stored in it's very own compartment, my tape in another, my shoes had a place of their own, my shaker bottle was fastened to the side of the bag, and my weight belt securely stowed -- all with room to spare.
At the gym, people were giving the bag a lot of attention. I’d give them a quick tour of the bag and all of its unique features. Without fail, each of them asked me where I got it - and without fail each of them looked at me funny when I told them that I made it. Of course I told them I didn't actually sew the bag together myself, but rather designed it and had it manufactured. A bunch of people ended up wanting a bag for themselves. That got me thinking: I wonder if the manufacturer could make a few more so my friends could have one too.
I contacted the manufacturer, and asked them for a price quote to have 20 bags made. I told them a few of my friends at the gym would be willing to purchase one if I had them on hand. I will never forget their email response back to me:
"Good Day Mr. Hanan,
The MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) for a custom bag order is 1,000 pieces. Can you order 1,000 pieces?"
Ha. Is this a joke? 1,000 pieces? They have to be out of their mind. I was just hoping to order a handful. Over the next week I try negotiating with the manufacturer. I'll pay X per bag if you agree to do 20-- they say no. I try to negotiate for a quantity of 50 bags, which was way outside my comfort zone financially -- still no. They hold firm at a MOQ of 1,000 -- so I say forget it, no shot in a million years will I agree to that.
Over the next week a few more people inquire about my bag. Everyone is digging it, but there's no way I'm ordering 1,000 bags. I mean, how the heck would I ever recoup my investment? Better yet, where the heck would I store them? In my 1-bedroom apartment? The thought is laughable.
Well, life is all about stories right? Yepp. This is where it really gets interesting.
I decided to roll the dice, and I mean really roll the dice. I contacted the manufacturer and said: "Ok, let's do it. I want to order 500 black bags, and 500 silver bags (with pink accents, for the girls)."
Before the bags would go into production, I had to create a brand, an identity, and a logo that would be affixed to these bags. The wheels in my head starting turning again. I asked myself: Who are you designing this bag for? Those with a passion for being healthy and strong; athletes; gym enthusiasts; CrossFitters; those with an unwavering commitment to fitness throughout the journey of life.
During this series of questions and answers with myself, the name FITERNITY was born. It's a synthesis of the word fitness and eternity. Many will refer to FITERNITY as the brotherhood and sisterhood of fitness. Those who know that beyond the grueling workouts day-after-day-after-day lies the ultimate reward: fitness.
FITERNITY was now real. I had a logo created, and I was on my way. Where was I going? No clue.
Next on my list was figuring out how the heck I would come up with the money to pay for 1,000 bags. Then I had to figure out where the heck I would store 1,000 bags. It wasn't long before I asked myself: What the hell did you get yourself into Blake?
I came up with the money, rented a storage unit, and 90 days later had 1,000 bags on hand. I immediately sold 5 bags at my local gym and then hit a slight bump in the road. I had 995 bags left, and no Idea how or where to sell them. I just knew that if I saw a need for this bag, other people had to see a need for it too - they just have to discover it! I can't possibly be the only person who's been frustrated with their jump rope getting tangled around their gear.
With only one item to sell, I decided to build a website. When an order would come in I'd print the shipping label from my laptop in the living room of my 1-bedroom apartment.
That was in 2012, and that's where we been ever since - right here online, however we sell more than one item now! Creating the perfect gym bag made me want to create the perfect workout pants from women - and we have. In fact, I truly believe we make the best looking-and-feeling workout pants on earth - the FITERNITY pants. Today, we ship our products all over the world and although we still print our own shipping labels, we're no longer doing it from my apartment. :)
As a brand, we aim to recognize, respect and represent those who make fitness and health part of their every day life. Our products are thoughtfully designed by, and crafted for the modern day athlete and fitness enthusiast.
To those who rock our brand while you train or while you hang, I thank you for representing FITERNITY.
Life is all about stories. :)
Blake Hanan, Founder