MOREHEAD, Ky. – It started as an idea to produce and sell a few hats out of a Jeep in and around a college town.
Because of technology, New Frontier Outfitters is a global clothing brand fully leveraging the digital economy to build a future in Appalachia Kentucky.
Brothers Jared Ravenscraft and Josh Ravenscraft have a deep love for the outdoors. Jared, 26, is a former basketball player and graduate of Morehead State University (MSU), and Josh, 22, is a current student at MSU. In 2016, the brothers used $200 of Jared’s graduation money and a MacBook and they started a business on their mom’s kitchen table.
“Our idea was natural,” recalls Jared. “We started this because we wanted to start an outdoor lifestyle brand centered on sharing people’s experiences, and we wanted to create high-quality clothes for people to travel and adventure in for all four seasons.”
That is New Frontier Outfitters… and more.
The company initially rolled out using the Instagram social media platform. Jared and Josh traveled around the MSU campus and downtown selling hats.
“We would meet people anywhere,” Josh said. “Parking lots, stores, or out of our jeep…it didn’t matter.”
Soon thereafter, they extended their products to apparel and opened their first office – in an old log yard.
Fast forward more than two years later, New Frontier Outdoors is a global brand driven by innovation. Last September, they moved into a storefront on Main Street in downtown Morehead. Morehead is home, but their consumers are global, thanks to an appealing online presence through Facebook and Instagram. They have more than 14,000 followers on Instagram alone.
“It’s really the only way we do business,” said Jared. “If it wasn’t for social media, I don’t think we would have made it. This allows us to communicate with our customer base, and we are thankful for that. Through technology, a small brand in the hills of Eastern Kentucky has been able to ship all over the world.”
How critical is technology and connectivity to the New Frontier Outfitters brand? The majority of their business is generated online.
By being innovation-driven, New Frontier Outfitters is “setting the trends, instead of following the trends,” said Jared and Josh.
What’s next for Jared, Josh and New Frontier Outfitters?
“We want to keep building our foundation and meeting new people who enjoy the same things we do,” said Josh. “We feel that we have the opportunity to open new stores, especially in the western part of the United States in and around ski country. We’ll continue to see where our orders are coming from and explore the possibility of planting locations near our customers so they can engage more into the story behind our brand.”
Ambitions aside, Appalachia Kentucky will always be home base for New Frontier Outfitters.
“Appalachia made this brand what it is,” Josh and Jared said. “We would love to be able to give back, because this region has given so much to us.”
Brandy Esham, a business and innovation champion with SOAR Innovation, plans to work with New Frontier to help it grow its brand and reach by greater leveraging technology.
“This is a prime example of what is possible in the digital economy,” said Esham. “I look forward to working with Josh and Jared as they continue to grow their brand and explore more innovation-driven ways to reach new customers and markets.”
SOAR Innovation is powered by the Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office and Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR). SOAR Innovation assists businesses and entrepreneurs whose ideas are innovation-driven or have the capacity to incorporate innovation to expand existing markets and create new markets through e-commerce, exporting or other trends.
SOAR Innovation’s services are free. For more information, contact Esham at (859) 749-2010 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.