In August of 2010, I was bobbing up and down on my 9’6” Stewart Longboard in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. The horizon was filled with the lush coast of the North Western point of the Costa Rican territory.
Here, the jungles of Costa Rica gradually transition across the Nicaraguan border. Unsure of the exact point of demarcation, I sat on my board for a moment, inactive and deep in thought, while my friends competed for the first wave of the day. We had traveled for three and a half hours by truck and boat to get to Ollie’s Point, the epic point break made famous by the classic surf flick The Endless Summer. The wave was a consistent, perfect right hand peel that would otherwise keep me busy for hours. However, instead of immediately paddling into the break I bobbed up and down on my board affectionately reflecting on my last trip to Central America. Four years earlier, as a student of Villanova University, I had traveled through the mountainous jungles of Waslala, Nicaragua on a service trip. There, I surveyed the land as a volunteer engineer on behalf of Water for Waslala, a Non-Profit Organization committed to delivering clean water to the impoverished region.
Suddenly, my moment of unexpected hesitation became clear to me. This was where Oliver North met a group of passionate Nicaraguan revolutionaries who went on to combat the country’s communist regime. “Of course…” I thought to myself, “Ollie’s Point.” I was less than a mile away from the exact location at which a lot of violence began to spread throughout the country of Nicaragua. The war did nothing to help the already severe degree of poverty prevalent throughout the underdeveloped countryside of Nicaragua. I am all too familiar with the many challenges these communities now face, in particular their limited access to clean water. I continued to reflect on my service through Water for Waslala and the people my designs had helped even as I finally began surfing.
I love discussing the strong connection I have established with Waslala and its people. I also love sharing the overwhelming sense of responsibility my experiences in Waslala have instilled in me, feelings that all came rushing to the forefront of my mind at that specific moment of that particular surf trip. I’ve been blessed with an amazing education. I work for a great company and get paid to launch things into outer space. I’ve got a loving family, a gorgeous wife and some really amazing friends. One thing I seldom consider is how lucky I am to have unlimited access to clean water. I’ve also got a gut that proves I seldom experience what 99% of the world would consider hunger. What I don’t have is an excuse to sit idly by and not share these gifts with those less fortunate than myself. My time at Villanova and my experiences in Waslala taught me that true gratitude should eventually evolve into a sense of obligation to use my gifts to help those who are less privileged than I am.
Knots has emerged as a way of combining my God given gifts, values, skills and interests in a way that will initially benefit the people of Waslala and eventually help others. I am enamored with the advent of the “socially conscious business” in American capitalism. Companies such as Toms Shoes, Method Cleaning Products, and Feed Bags are quickly proving that the American consumer is interested in more than just material satisfaction and looking good. They truly want to feel good about their commercial decisions. Why shouldn’t they? Companies and corporations are uniquely positioned to make tremendous charitable contributions. Isn’t it great to know your money is being used to not only satisfy yourself and your family, but to help others as well? There are a ton of enlightened businessmen that realized this long before I did, but I’ve noticed that few have had the guts to donate large percentages of their bottom line. We firmly believe that a 50% contribution of our profits to selected charities will make a notable impact on their missions. We are committed to transparency and want to maintain direct oversight into the usage of our donated funds. We also have a passion for clever design! Our first product line is a modern, more casual take on the average necktie for men. Our hope is that the uniqueness of our designs will generate awareness for our charitable partners.
We sincerely hope that Knots can transform the apparel industry. However, if we end up donating one dollar, helping just one person improve their access to clean water, or empower even one customer to think about the gifts they’ve been blessed with and feel the obligation to bless others, we will consider this project a success. I feel privileged to share Knots Apparel Co. with anyone interested in learning about us, our values and our intentions. I hope it challenges you to consider the ways in which you can make a positive impact in the world, even if it is as simple as buying a necktie and sharing our story.
Thanks for joining us on this journey!