from the CIA to umano
Posted on November 10 2015
when you figure out what you were meant to do, you know.
brother + co-founder, alex torrey (we like to call him AT) is a true testament to taking the pursuing the road less traveled.
a little background info: AT graduated from the university of georgia (go dawgs), casually worked for the CIA a few years and then moved back to athens, ga to start umano with jonathan (aka JT, aka big bro).
now that his story is declassified, we have all the deets on AT pursuing his passion of social entrepreneurship and starting umano.
first—we are all wondering. what did it feel like to work for the CIA?
AT: “everything we did had purpose, and that’s a correlation to what i do now. I can’t imagine work without that feeling -when everyone is working towards a greater cause. I remember being in “the bubble” when then-director panetta announced bin laden was captured. the emotion was unlike anything I had ever seen.”
what made you contemplate leaving?
AT: “the main thing was the entrepreneurial bug. I really wanted to start something and do it with my brother. then I started learning about social entrepreneurship, applying for-profit ingenuity to serve a social purpose. and that’s when I got the feeling that this is what I was put on this earth to do.”
when did you and JT (jonathan torrey) start making plans?
AT: “I ended up doing a one-year tour in afghanistan and jonathan was stateside, so we facetimed to talk concepts and ideas. after my tour, we bought an RV and drove from georgia to california, going door-to-door, city-to-city talking to specialty stores about umano. I knew then and there that I wanted a crack at breaking into the fashion business.”
it just felt natural?
AT: “absolutely. it’s a very powerful feeling when you know what you were put on this earth to do. and it was the first time I ever had that feeling. when I felt it there was no doubt.”
what did the road trip teach you?
AT: “that we knew less than nothing about the business. I think we knew negative because everything we thought we knew was wrong, so I think that takes points away. we had to figure out how to put the wheels on the bus.”
has anything been constant since that trip?
AT: “passion. we know we’re not the smartest in the room, the best funded or the best connected. but passion gives us enough gas in the tank for the long haul. it’s how we’re building something bigger than ourselves.”
advice for anyone with the entrepreneurial bug?
AT: “if you want it bad enough people will be there to help you. our Artists, our parents, our teachers, our team, our advisors, countless people went out of their way to give us a chance…there’s so much fuel for the fire, and the only option is to make it work. there’s no secret sauce, we just really want to grow this thing into a big movement so we can make a big impact empowering kids. that’s really how we’ve gotten to where we are.”