brother + cofounder alex torrey knows firsthand that nothing worth doing is easy. after returning from afghanistan, he and jonathan began a cross-country roadtrip to share the umano story. for five months they lived in an RV (named “el chato”), reaching out to schools and boutiques as they drove from athens to los angeles. the journey to success is never easy, but there is no shortage of inspiration along the way.
let’s talk about the first time you experienced rejection…
AT: pulling out the big guns, eh? well I always thought I wanted to work on wall street. I applied for internships and didn’t get a single one.
did that get you down?
AT: definitely. that was the first big rejection I ever had. but in retrospect I’m super happy I didn’t get it.
would you have started umano either way?
AT: when we came up with the mission and idea for umano both jonathan and I had that once-in-a-lifetime feeling that we knew this is exactly what we were put on this earth to do. one way or another I think I would have ended up here, but the path would have been different.
what was life like on the road?
AT: living out of “el chato” was an amazing experience. there were many weeks when we sold just enough to pay for gas, sleeping on friends couches, and trying to avoid getting ticketed by meter maids in santa monica. good times!
what kind of feedback did you get about umano?
AT: a lot of boutiques said no pretty much right of the bat and only one out of every ten would talk to us. but when we got to share our story our batting average was pretty nuts. we waiting on many a store owner and buyer to finish eating lunch just so they could tell us they were not interested. but every one of those “yes’s” fueled our fire (and fueled “el chato”)!.
how did people respond to the mission?
AT: extraordinarily positive. our product was not what it is now, so each person really believed in our story. the encouragement was enough to push through any rejection. it reminded us that we were starting something much bigger than ourselves and that what we were doing would have a huge impact.
did you ever wonder if umano was a mistake?
AT: no. even if umano totally failed that summer, we would have known we did everything we could to bring it to life. I would rather miss a shot than not take it any day of the week.
what was the main thing you took away from the trip?
AT: success looks different than you picture it. we saw how many people believed in our mission, not just boutique owners but people we met on the road, who let us park “el chato” at their place and crash on their couch. today, the feedback is even more positive from even more people and our momentum keeps increasing. our story is still being written and the mission is far from over. one thing is certain: the sky is the limit.