The story of Activ8 is really a story about becoming a Father.
I have been with Big Ray’s for almost 40 years; most of that as one of the owners. We are known for supplying many products for life in Alaska; especially arctic clothing. One of the great things about being part of a family owned small business is that you get to be involved in all aspects of running that enterprise. Marketing, Accounting, Personnel, and Product mix to name a few.
I was a twenty something year old bachelor and one of my duties was ordering children’s clothing. Yup. Looking back on it seems like a silly idea and in most aspects I suppose it was. But we all did what we had to do to grow the company. I thought I knew the kid’s outerwear business and did my best for our customers. I remember Mom’s and Dad’s always asking for the warmest winter gear you could get. I looked and looked and found great gear but not quite what our customers were asking for. I recall one Mom buying two snowsuits for each of her two sons. One was the correct size and the other was larger to fit over the top! I travelled many of the clothing markets and found some great parkas but no snow bibs to match. I found snow bibs and no parkas. The families of Alaska made it work.
I met my wife Bernice while both of us were working in downtown Fairbanks. She, too, worked for her own family’s travel business. We were married and shortly afterward had two children. (Here’s where the Father part comes in!) As our children grew older it slowly dawned on me what the Mom’s and Dad’s had been asking for.
Imagine learning about school recess in Fairbanks.
This became the inspiration behind Activ 8 outerwear for Kids across Alaska.
It is 20 degrees below zero and your kids are playing outside at school and they love it.
Sure, any colder than that and Alaskan kids stay inside.
But until the Mercury drops to -20F, Moms and Dads on the Last Frontier need the warmest coats, bibs and snowsuits for their children. It’s required. At Big Ray’ we decided to solve this problem.
I started gathering feedback from management and staff. I really thought about what I had been hearing. I went to my friend and associate Jon Wright in Seattle. He knows how to get clothing made.
So we started. And did it take off!
We designed Activ 8 to be warm and tough. We put more insulation where it counts, like in the chest and legs. We reinforced the knees and seats on our snow bibs and snowsuits because kids live in them. We added reflective piping to increase safety on dark mornings and afternoons. And we made all of this affordable.
Over the past twenty years or so thousands of Alaskan Kids have worn Activ 8 in the toughest conditions: RECESS IN ALASKA!
You will be relieved to know that today, Cara, one of our most talented buyers and a Mom is in charge of the Activ8 clothing. I am proud to have contributed to keeping the kids of Alaska warm.
-Monty Rostad/CEO Big Ray's