‘I have nothing to fear. First of all, everybody else is unavailable for comment.’ -Chuck D.
Integrity, or the art of staying true to yourself, is a primary driver for us and one of the key values we kept in mind when we started out. It’s reflected in the quality of our products, those we want to reach and empower, and the communities/social initiatives we support. Having it can be challenging in a world where so many things pull at us to cut corners or compromise for the approval of others. If you’re running or starting a company, sacrificing some values for the sake of profit is almost a business mantra.
It’s rarely easy when you abide by what you believe in. It means opening yourself up to scrutiny from others and criticism for holding a particular set of values. Those are trials and tribulations we know firsthand, mostly from others telling us we were bananas to quit our jobs, or change jobs in order to start something from scratch that catered to a (perceived) niche market. We’ve faced adversity on the journey so far and we are comfortable persisting in the face of resistance.
It’s a tall order to stay on the path of your own ideals. Do it anyway. Rebel. Be an iconoclast and unsubscribe from over-the-counter-culture. We insist on creating the best products possible not only for our customers, but also because it’s integral to who we are.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Enjoy the adventure. Go train.
-Written by Jahred Dell
Intelligence is nothing more than discussing things with others. Limitless wisdom comes from this. Humanity is something done for the sake of others; simply comparing oneself with them and putting them in the fore. – The Hagakure
Ahakoa he iti taku whare, i ahu mai au i te kōpua känapanapa –Although my house is small, I emanate from a deep pool – Maori proverb
One of the things we discovered that we loved most about jiu jitsu is the range of people from varying backgrounds that you often find in any academy. This is just such an underrated benefit to the study of the art, as it brings together many under a common practice. So in light of Dove soaps recent fiasco of an ad campaign (which necessitated some serious PR spin, as well as social media apologies to staunch the blood from the PC frenzy that followed), we figured this was a great time to discuss the topic of diversity and why we choose to make it one of the pillars of what we are about.
Those shenanigans were wild, for a number of reasons. First, we wondered how a company with probably tens of thousands to blow in their marketing budget could get it so wrong. I mean we’re all going to miss the mark sometimes, but that was like, way off the mark. Second we thought ‘Yo….someone actually got paid to be that incompetent or unaware.’ Third we were blown away by the realization that no one stepped up to actually say ‘Have you really thought this through? Because in business terms, it’s gonna be a shitstorm.’ But most of all, what this story confirmed for us is the following: A lot of corporations and companies pay lip service to the idea of embracing diversity but have little to zero idea of what it actually means to do so. Whether this stems from ignorance, laziness, greed, a sheer and gargantuan level of hubris, or stale gentrification of the corporate hierarchy, we don’t really know.
We take the position that embracing and supporting diversity in your company culture isn’t an issue of sales and marketing. You know: putting together a progressive appearance to the world in order to broaden your spectrum of consumers, just so you can sell them more products to maximize your profit margins. Embracing diversity is a held belief that the stories, dreams and adventures of people from different backgrounds (cultural, ethnic, religious or otherwise) all have the same relevance. That they carry the same weight and importance. And moreover, it’s important for those to whom society already caters to know that those stories exist. Why? Because when we expand our eyes and minds to the trials, tribulations and accomplishments to those who differ greatly from us we learn and grow. As a result we all benefit.
People are skeptical. We get it. They say: ‘You make products. How can a company that makes jiu jitsu and adventure apparel, be about diversity?’ But the answer is simple: It starts at the top and filters down through every facet of our company whether it’s employing artists and/or manufacturers in different countries, striving to use a culturally diverse group of models for our marketing needs, to contributing to organizations that assist those in the community who may live along different socio-economic lines. Ultimately SOHEI is a company (it would be disingenuous for us to sit here and say we don’t want to make a profit -even we have dreams!), but at the same time we are much, much more. We are a movement that uses the exceptional things we produce to empower and support a culturally vast array of people in their personal pursuits, while using our financial leverage to help humanity where we can on a larger social scale.
Paying homage to the North and South Islands of New Zealand, as well as one of the most dominant positions in jiu jitsu, our North South tee has arrived. Printed with our usual minimalist style on 4.7 oz 100% ring spun cotton, it features the SOHEI logo in the front across the north and south islands of beautiful NZ, and the outline logo in the nape of the neck. Straightforward simplicity and style. That’s how we create and operate. Available in white and black as well as a sleeveless dark grey. Sizes are S, M, L and XL. We ship anywhere in NZ via tracked courier.
Cost: $50.00 NZD
Ahakoa he iti taku whare, i ahu mai i te kōpua kānapanapa – ‘Although my house is small, I emanate from a deep pool.’
SOHEI started from a simple idea: To build something that allowed us to be creative and make excellent gear, while being transparent about who we are to our customers along the way. Really our story is one of people who had a shared vision of a lifestyle that was under their own terms, while hopefully inspiring people to achieve their own. We do this tangibly through the products and apparel we produce, and intangibly through the athletes and people we support as well as our role with various charitable organisations.
The company wasn’t founded just to make things for the sake of making them. It more like ‘Can we make this better? And if so, can we do it in a way where we enjoy the work, contribute positively socially, form good relationships with people, put the customer first all the time every time? And most of all can we do it while building a company that’s straightforward and earnest?’ Because wow were we all sick of brands that promised us one thing, while delivering another.
When we started out, right? Everyone told us to be transparent because of the power of technology. That was really them saying ‘Hey you have to because with the instantaneous nature of social media and communication if you get it wrong everyone will know, and it’s your ass.’ Granted that’s all true but for us it’s not a driving force behind our desire to be candid. Fear of mistakes makes a shitty motivator.
Transparency is how your hear our voice and know it’s our own, original, and real. It’s how you know we value your support, how you know where we are headed, what we’re about, how we’re accountable, how we empower people and continue to make gear that will surpass other brands. We see humanity and the human condition as a shared experience and moreover, we see those who support us as deserving of straightforward candor. It’s how you know we actually believe in what we’re doing.
This is definitely not to be missed. Jason Roebig is the head of Axis Australia and a black belt under the legendary Kron Gracie. He has studied extensively under both Kron and Rickson, and will be bringing his knowledge and technique to Christchurch at Axis Jiu Jitsu for this seminar. This is an excellent opportunity not only for those who have been training extensively but for those new to the study of the art as well. All clubs are welcome. Spread the word and lets continue the rise of jiu jitsu in the garden city. See you there.
Monday, September 12th
6pm until 8pm
$70 NZD PP
Straightforward simplicity and style. That’s how we create and operate. Our logo tee has arrived and is now available for purchase from one of our retailers or through our site. Available in in S, M, L and XL, we ship anywhere in NZ via tracked courier.
Cost: $50.00 NZD
We’re serious about supporting communities and 5% of every shirt sold goes towards Fill Their Lunchbox-a great Christchurch organization that makes it their mission to fuel and feed disadvantaged kids, giving them the chance to break the cycle of poverty and find success. So pick one up. Not only do you get a stylish tee, you help kiwi kids, empower the community, and support two fantastic businesses-all in one go. Win/win for everyone. So check it out as well as our other apparel and gear.
Be sure and check out Fill Their Lunchbox as well- a great cause: https://www.facebook.com/filltheirlunchbox/
We Empower Potential
Welcome to SOHEI!
SOHEI was born out some pretty simple desires. I was tired of training in gear that didn’t meet the demands and requirements. I was also done spending my life working for the dreams of others when I could be working towards my own, while doing what I was passionate about. Life, like training, is arduous. More so. It can be downright terrifying. I felt like people should be inspired, empowered-to have the opportunities to build what their lives could ultimately be and that I could build something towards that purpose.
I started out with just that idea, and that idea was all that I had. Fast forward a couple of years after some extremely steep learning curves and here we are today and still growing. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I can tell you definitively that it takes a world to raise a brand. So first and foremost thanks to all of you out there: the athletes and adventurers supporting us. Whether you’re a professional or it’s simply personal, thank you for being a part of the journey. In today’s market there is more choice than ever, so the fact that you’ve chosen to be a part of what we’re doing is appreciated beyond measure. Without you there is no journey. Well, I mean there is but it’s a hell of a lonely one. Success is richer when shared.
In addition I am indebted to a lot of people who believed in this journey even when they had little reason to. Without them we 100% wouldn’t have made it. So thank you Weave Digital, Hound & Steed Creative, Axis jiujitsu, Cassandra Capello, New Media Design and really too many others to mention.
Yeah. So that’s enough of that. Go shop. Then go train!
Founder & Director