Just Do It — yourself

Spring 2016
Andrew Parietti '10 and Outdoor Voices founder Tyler Haney

Outdoor Voices President Andrew Parietti ’10 and Founder/CEO Tyler Haney. Photo by Jace Lumley

Andrew Parietti ’10

Walk up to the original brick-and-mortar retail outlet of Outdoor Voices in Austin, Texas, and you’ll know immediately that you’re in the presence of a next-generation sports apparel company. Color-coordinated fixed-gear bikes stand outside the door like sentinels of millennial discernment. Inside, shelves and racks hold sweatpants, leggings, sneakers, and other items sans price tag. The clothing features form-fitting gradient designs and a color palette leaning heavily on muted winter hues. Casually arranged around the space are trendy, bespoke lifestyle magazines like Kinfolk and Green Soccer Journal. Show up on the right night, and you might even catch free community yoga or a dog-walking club.

It’s not your parents’ Niketown, but not because Outdoor Voices President Andrew Parietti ’10 has any disrespect for his elders. Quite the opposite: Growing up in Seattle, Parietti was obsessed with Nike — the brand, the athletes who represented it, and the lifestyle that it promoted. “Watching the sports players whom I idolized wearing Nike formed the way I saw brands. When I grew up I wanted to be the CEO of Nike.

“Obviously that hasn’t happened per se,” he added. “But a lot of Outdoor Voices has come from that mentality of how to build the next generation of Nike.”

Another childhood passion, lacrosse, led Parietti to Colgate. He captained Colgate’s lacrosse team in addition to double majoring in philosophy and economics. “It was a full responsibility set,” he said. “I had to keep up with the talent that was around me and handle difficult tasks. That helped me develop into an entrepreneur.”

After Colgate, Parietti began his business career with a New York City consulting firm, but the transition was an adjustment. “You leave the world of college sports, college schedules, and now your entire schedule is what you dictate it to be,” he recalled. “I got really into running, boxing, riding a bike around the city, and hitting the gym as much as possible.”

Parietti’s personal cultivation of an active adult lifestyle against the backdrop of cosmopolitan 20-something life formed the kernel of the idea for Outdoor Voices. The brand was created to appeal to millennial customers who eschew the desk-to-couch-to-bed lifestyle that is the default mode of adult white-collar life.

His vision was set into motion when he met Tyler Haney, a fashion designer just out of college, at a party. “When I met Tyler, I had some notions for a brand about doing things, being active, getting out every day,” he said. She had a similar vision, and the two went into business together — Haney as founder, Parietti as her first hire in 2013. Today, Outdoor Voices has raised approximately $10 million in investment capital. At least five investors are Colgate alumni. “We’ve had great support from the Colgate community to help get it off the ground,” he said.

An early deal with J. Crew has led to a more recent investment partnership with A.P.C., a French clothing brand. A.P.C.’s last three partnerships were with Carhartt, Nike, and Kanye West.

Outdoor Voices currently employs 50 people, and has stores in Austin and New York. Although the company started online and still does most of its business on the web, Parietti is working to roll out brick-and-mortar stores in cities nationwide. There, customers will be able to take in all the elements of Outdoor Voices’ style as well as the community-building aspect.

“We built this digitally, but you can’t replace the experience of walking into a store, seeing the whole collection, and talking to people who work there and live the lifestyle,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a marathon. You stay active for your body, for your mind. We want to create a hub for that and have it manifest in the clothes people wear every day.”

— Mike Agresta