BEND, Ore. – January 1, 2016 – A quick sit down chat with Matt Gilman, founder of Chivaz (chee-vaz) Wear, led us to discover why he’s passionate about socks, why he left the rat race of Sunnyvale, CA, for the “views-n-brews” community of Redmond, OR, and why it’s better to be a goat than a sheep.
1) Why socks?
I’ve always loved socks and always worn crazy styles. I used to raid my dad’s closet and try on his tall, argyle socks. It’s an important part of my wardrobe. But, I was buying socks that just didn’t do it for me and I couldn’t find any good quality, comfortable socks that just felt good when I put them on. The idea for Chivaz came to me in 2006, but I didn’t start making them until 2012. I was working 10-12 hour days in the Bay Area and just didn’t have anything left for Chivaz.
2) Why Chivaz? What does it mean?
The long answer is “Chivaz” is the Spanish word for goats and goats are sure footed, have great balance and can climb almost anything. Goats are strong willed. Goats are diverse (they come in all shapes, sizes, horns/no horns). Goats adapt incredibly well to their surroundings. Goats never lose their personality. Goats refuse to be contained. Goats get along well with people and other animals. So, Chivaz are a reminder that you are your best self when you aren’t afraid to stand tall and stand out. We want the brand to encourage people to express their “inner-goat” to the world and do something they love to do.
I recently wrote a blog called “Are you a goat or a sheep? And other things to ponder as you build an authentic brand.” The basic message is be a goat, not a sheep. Show up and be yourself, don’t follow the herd. That’s what we’re doing with Chivaz.
3) Why did you decide to relocate to Redmond?
Well, my wife and I were living in the Bay Area, working long days in the tech industry and we started feeling out of touch with who we really were. We both grew up in smaller towns and knew we wanted to get back to that kind of lifestyle. We came to look at a house in Redmond one weekend and it just felt right. It felt like home. Four weeks later, we were here.
We love that Redmond has a lot of small town charm, plenty of space to grow, really nice people that look you in the eye, and a super supportive community that wants to see you succeed. The proximity of Bend to Redmond is also a huge plus because you get the best of both worlds – the value and community of a small town and the nearby location of a destination city with a large tourist population who will (hopefully!) see my socks in the local shops.
I personally also love being outdoors and the multitude of different opportunities that Redmond has to offer is just awesome.
4) How has EDCO helped you get your business established in Central Oregon?
The people of EDCO and their immediate inclusion of me as an outsider has been awesome. I still am trying to figure out why people are being so nice and supportive. Jon Stark (REDI/EDCO) and Brian Vierra (EDCO) have both been instrumental in not only buying Chivaz socks, but also in introducing me around town to different people that can help a person like me.
5) Where do you see Chivaz five years down the road?
In five years, I see Chivaz as the first name that comes to mind when you think of Central Oregon and socks. I really feel like Chivaz has found its home forever here. I don’t have aspirations to be huge in retail across the nation, but I do want to blanket the local market with Chivaz. I also plan on putting a lot of effort into growing the eCommerce side of the business, which is really where I see the most potential. Ideally, just like people think of Hydro Flask, Humm Kombucha, BlackStrap, SnoPlanks, RuffWear, and DrinkTanks (among dozens of others) as leaders in their product categories that are from Central Oregon, I’d love for Chivaz to represent in the sock category.
6) Any advice for companies moving to the area?
Get involved. It’s a small community of entrepreneurs and businesses. People will meet with you and return emails, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, make sure that you have the right winter gear.
For more information or to buy your very own pair of Chivaz (you’ll thank us later!), visit their website at www.chivazwear.com.