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Adam Muncy

I am a consumer. I am constantly consuming and digesting communication of all forms from infinite sources. Longform essays, albums, photojournals, case studies and documentaries fill more of my time than they probably should. It's not necessarily the content of the consumables that grows me, but the way they challenge my thinking. Experiencing those narratives enables our minds to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills so that when we face those "movie moments" in our own lives, we will be able to see them beyond the immediate surface level. 

One of those movie moments for me happened a year ago. I'd been researching and applying for accelerators for about six months. An accelerator is sort of a combination of an incubator and an MBA program. After tons of research, I thought I had it figured out. The one in my crosshairs was caused focused, local to my hometown and I'd even visited the headquarters on multiple occasions while pitching to investors in their footprint. Unfortunately, when the time came, my application was automatically thrown in the reject pile because I was a solo founder. At the time, I thought it was about the stupidest reasoning I could imagine. But I was only viewing the surface. 

The Hounds came to be shortly shortly after I asked my now wife to marry me. She is a wonderful educator, constant encourager, accountability partner, world class salesperson and master folder. But her best quality (related to the Hounds) is that she is ALMOST as stubborn as me, and she doesn't put up with laziness. 

Any entrepreneur who tells you they are so self motivated they go all out 100% of the time is about as trustworthy as the guy who says his tattoos didn't hurt. It's part of the journey. Beaches have sand. Cherries have pits. And constant decision-making and daily grind will wear you out!

Likewise, running a business is easy when I'm designing shirts and handing out uniforms. But it's not as easy when I'm doing the accounting or folding hundreds of shirts after a full day of work. This is when her stubborn-ness is most valued. When she won't let me stop folding at shirt fifty or seventy-five. It's most valued when she's waking me up at 6:00 on a Saturday because set-up starts in 2 hours. It's most valued when she is pushing me when I'm done pushing myself. 

In hindsight, the accelerator was being perfectly reasonable with their partner requirement. I would going half speed if it weren't for my partner. I just didn't have the foresight to list her on the application. 

Lessons Learned

Adam Muncy

Since founding the Hounds, LTD. in January of 2016, I've learned more lessons that I ever thought my brain could handle. Anyone who knew me as a child can attest that I learn things the hard way. My preferred method is trial by fire. And this journey has been that and so much more. 

FAITHFULNESS is lesson number one. It manifests itself in so many different forms. It manifests itself by checking the email list several times a day. It manifests itself by taking advice on product concepts. It manifests itself by restarting the creative process when a release flops. It manifests itself by following every lead to the source. The most telling aspect of lessons in faithfulness is that they happen EVERY SINGLE DAY whether I want them to or not. Then they happen even more. FAITHFULLNESS takes no days off. In turn, I do my very best to take no days off because I aspire to be FAITHFUL. 

I was vaguely familiar with STEWARDSHIP prior to starting this adventure. More than anything else, it has to do with the posture I take approaching my work with the Hounds, LTD. Not everyone has the opportunity to make their dream a reality, and I cannot discount that by failing to show up every day. I cannot let down my customers who rely on me to enable these youth of inner city Chicago to change their futures. I cannot give up every time I'm discouraged. I cannot let the dream die. It is my responsibility to steward the vision. 

I am in a constant state of improvement. I always look for ways to make the next product that much better than the last. And I'm always looking for ways to make myself better than I've been. 

Ethical Production

Adam Muncy

To be completely transparent, when I decided to start a brand, I put absolutely no thought in ethical production or clean supply chains. When I got a steal, I applauded the free market system and international trade agreements. 

I legitimately believed that everyone paid their workers a living wage. Silly me for believing that there were government agencies who would stop employers from creating unsafe working conditions. In my mind, no mall brand would be involved in shady practices resembling servitude. 

To be blunt, I was ignorant. Sadly, most folks are ignorant. It's not unreasonable to make the assumption that no part of driving to the mall and buying something off the clearance shouldn't make one feel guilty. Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect. Clothes are cheap because employees are virtually enslaved. People are forced to work in 100 year old buildings built in countries that literally have no enforceable code. These are not people who are "used to" the heat, long hours or debt servitude. They are people the same as all of us and deserve better. 

I do not want to be a part of that. I promise to never contract sewers that use these practices. Whether you shop with us or not, please join us in that.  

We Are Expanding!

Adam Muncy

We have major plans for expansion in 2017 and 2018, but, to do so, we need your help. 

Over the last 2 years, we've grown from a suppressed ambition to a full fledge cut and sew brand. Along the journey, you've allowed us to care for the youth of inner city Chicago on an unimaginable scale.  

At this point, our next goal is expansion, but it will be impossible without you help. We are currently looking to take on equity partners. Our request of you is to notify all investors and philanthropists in your personal network. Our business model is young enough that anyone who is willing to innovate could be a great partner. Don't discount your connections before giving them a shot. 

Please send all emails to adam@thehoundsltd.com

Summer Camping Re-cap

Adam Muncy

School is starting up again soon, and we wanted to fill you in on how the summer went. 

First of all, you guys have continued to support our vision to send kids camping in a way we could not have foreseen. For the second year in a row, you allowed us to completely subsidize the cost of the k-2nd camping trip. For many of these kids, it is their first time sleeping away from home; and, for some, the first time outside of the neighborhood. 

While I personally was unable to attend, I was treated to frequent updates from some of the amazing staff at Inner City Impact. The kids grew immensely in the short time and seemed to have enjoyed themselves along the way. One cool surprise for everyone (camp planners included) was McDonald's breakfast due to early morning rain, but our kids weren't deterred. They continued to make the most of their day and even swam in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. 

None of this would have happened without your amazing support! Your purchases are making a world of difference. 

We've made it one year!

Adam Muncy

First things first, you guys have been amazing. I remember sitting at a Starbucks in Huntington, WV, making the original posts to announce that our store was up and running. I'd posted it as an experiment with the goal of completely subsidizing the cost of a camping trip for 20 kids from Chicago. I knew that if we could do that, it'd give us the validation necessary to pursue the vision further. Before I went to bed that night, you'd already bought so many shirts that we had to expand the trips we sponsored. What started as a sponsorship for kindergarten through second graders ended up expanding to kindergarten to fifth grade before the weekend was over. 

From there, we gained massive exposure in what looked like genius product placement. In reality, Dwayne wore our Camp Tee in "Welcome to the 4th Grade," because I mailed it to him when I heard the first rough edit the week before shooting began. There was no seeking him out through an agent or influencer marketing firm. We'd met volunteering as camp counselors with Inner City Impact. Realistically, no marketing firm could've done a better job. Dwayne is an educator when rapping. The partnership fit like a glove.

Within 6 months of our first tee, we broke into the world of cut&sew. For those of you without a fashion background, that is insane growth. It's typically at least 3 years to go from tees to full custom products. The process to make an oxford is so much involved than we'd ever imagined. I never went to fashion school so I had an insanely steep learning curve. Your support made it possible.

To break it down to raw numbers, in our first year 

-50 much needed school uniforms were provided to the kids of Cicero Public Schools

-50 pairs of winter gloves warmed the hands of kids from inner city Chicago

And our proudest accomplishment

-100 kids from under-resourced environments went camping overnight because of your purchases! 

I want you to know that this is completely abnormal for a company making slow growth decisions. That term means we put in extra due diligence when researching our factories. We follow the trail all the way to the beginning on our sourcing. We investigate any possible partners to an almost creepy level. BUT we do these things because we love you guys! We know you deserve the best possible product. We do not take it lightly when you choose to spend your hard earned dollars supporting our mission. 

We've Got the Big Dudes Covered!

Adam Muncy

We are all about inclusivity, and now we want to include the Big Dudes!

The first time I noticed a how much of a difference there was in clothing was my freshman year of college. The computer magically paired me with the one of the starting guards of the football team. At the time they referred to us as Rob & Big

I was an early adopter of skinny jeans at the time (maybe too early for central Kentucky), and he wore his clothes baggie. It was surprisingly convenient was we never got our laundry mixed. 

He is a huge part of the inspiration to expand our offering. Buy one for a Big Dude in your life!

Winter Gloves Long Sleeve at Work

Adam Muncy

Strong Young Ladies!

Strong Young Ladies!

Hi guys! I hope you are enjoying your Winter Gloves Long Sleeves as much as we are. We took some style risks with that piece, but we truly believe they paid off. 

As it states on the inside tag, each shirt provides a pair of winter gloves. What kind of gloves? Where do they go? Why are they needed? 

His Future's So Bright He's Gotta Wear Shades

His Future's So Bright He's Gotta Wear Shades

First things first, the Midwest is cold. Even in a winter as mild as this one, it still gets painfully cold. Our giving partner informed us that there was a shortage of good winter gloves in Chicago. So we worked backwards again. With that knowledge, we designed the shirts and purchased the winter gloves knowing you guys would hold up your end of the bargain. 

All the Fellas Suited and Booted

All the Fellas Suited and Booted

Inner City Impact was kind enough to handle the rest. They distributed the gloves to the kids at their annual winter camp. We knew it would be selfish to keep this photos to ourselves. Enjoy the shots of these wonderful kids! 

Shop within a Shop

Adam Muncy

Hi guys! We wanted you to be the first to know that our shirts are now available to purchase at Legend's Barbershop 1346 W Columbia, Battle Creek, MI. 

Jake has been cutting our hair the last year so we are very excited to be in a shop we know and love. 

Samson's Hair Pomade

Samson's Hair Pomade

In addition to providing the best haircuts around, Jake makes and sells Samson's Haircare. Much like our shirts, a portion of the proceeds from each can of pomade goes to Lifewater. Keep your eyes peeled this summer as we will be doing a few pop-ups and festivals together. 

Let's Build!

Adam Muncy

Too often we've seen a culture of exclusivity in fashion. Everywhere we see an exclusive "cool kids club." We want to go on record stating we will never be part of that club (maybe because we will never be invited). We will always be stoked for everything you're doing. 

We get so excited for all the creative energy we see. That's why you see our stuff pop-up in so many spots or us sharing booths. There are so many brands that we text to congratulate every time they release a great piece. We will always share and support whatever our friends have produced last. 

One of our biggest creative supporters is Hillking Supply Co. They are operating on such a similar creative wavelength. It is not uncommon for us to be texting back and forth over the meaning behind word placement on a tee. The coolest part is that we've been having those same conversation since before Hillking had every produced a shirt or we were even a concept. 

We will always support Dwayne Reed because he's always been such a creative energy. Before we heard him welcoming kids to the 4th grade, we heard him teaching campers "Kentucky Fried Chicken and PIzza Hut." The Hounds, Ltd. will continue to support Dwayne anyway we can because we love his creative energy and direction. 

 A newer project we love is "We." by Kareem Manuel. We've known him as rapper for years, but to see him making statements of personal responsibility as a designer is inspiring. That's why you'll see us sharing his stuff. It just gets us too pumped to keep to ourselves. 

 A lot of brands start creating because they didn't see what they wanted to. Lakelife Supply has done just that. They are planning a Spring launch for their brand, and we couldn't be more excited. 

One of the bigger brands that has been stoked for us is Ohio Against the World. Whenever you're starting something new, there will be plenty of days when it seems like you aren't good enough. This team is always available for an encouraging text or an inside secret. One of my favorite things about them is their lack of discrimination. I've never seen a brand collaborate with artists, skaters and rappers, become the rally call of sports teams, and still manage to make wonderful political statements at the same time. 

Always support those around you. If people are building, help them. 

Transparency

Adam Muncy

Since day 1, we knew that if we took care of our customers, they'd take care of us. Part of that means we have to be willing and able to answer any and all questions our customers ask of us.  

That is why we link our giving partner on our homepage and tag them in all social media. We want you to know who we are working with. If you're curious of how worthy they are, you can always view their 990. A 990 is a tax form every 501(c)3 files each year giving a specific breakdown of where their donations flow. It is legally required that these be visible to the public.  

To be completely transparent, our Camping Tee provided around 1% of the entire camping budget for our giving partner in 2016, and our Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to one day fund their entire camping program, but that is a ways away. 

Likewise, we strive to be transparent in our own business practices. As a matter of privacy for others, there are some things we cannot disclose. For instance, we can tell you where our tailoring co-op is and what certifications they have, but we cannot tell you who else contracts them. 

Please hold us accountable by asking the questions that we thought to answer. This helps us to be transparent in every step of production. 

Our First Flea

Adam Muncy

Hi guys! We wanted to thank all of you who took the time out of your day last Sunday to visit us at the Columbus Flea. We had so much fun and really enjoyed getting to see all of you! 

As a brand, we especially enjoy being able to tell our story in person. It's so wonderful to be able to answer all questions related to our production, development and social attributes. Fun fact, we had our second biggest day of business yet. We were totally blown away considering that we had no pre-conceived notions of how the day would pan out. 

Thank you to those who had been watching from afar for introducing themselves. It helps us to better serve you when we know who you are. 

Lastly and most importantly, thank you to Hillking Supply Co for sharing a space with us. Y'all provided such a great environment and taught us so much in such a short period of time. 

If you weren't able to make it, we will be in Grand Rapids on Saturday 2/18 sharing a space with Marie La Mode in the GR Pop-Up Shop

Q&A with Brian Aviles of Inner City Impact

Adam Muncy

Brian ran day camp in 2016.

Brian ran day camp in 2016.

1. Who are you, and what do you do?

"My name is Brian Aviles. I have been a lifelong friend of the founder of the Hounds, Ltd. I am currently raising money to become part of the staff at Inner City Impact. I will be working with the k-5 program in the Logan Square location."

2. Why Chicago?

"I have lived most of my life in Ohio, but I was always known as the Chicago kid because I would pride myself on being from Chicago even though I only lived there for a small portion of my life. I don’t have too many great memories living in Chicago, but I was a big fan of the sports teams.

The older I got the more I fell in love with the city and not just the teams. I got connected with Inner City Impact the same time Adam (the founder of The Hounds, Ltd.). This opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t really understand. Living in a small Christian town all I knew was the life I saw. I thought everyone had the blessings I did growing up because we live in “the greatest country in the world.” The more I would work with the youth the more I realized that wasn’t the case for everyone. I wanted to do what I could to be part of the solution and love those that I have spent my whole life not thinking about."

3. What challenges do you face?

"The challenge that I face every day is my pride. I like to think that I know the answer to everything. For example I had a friend at Inner City Impact that would talk to me about the issue of racism. At first I would always defend myself, and not listen to what he was saying. God started to put it on my heart that I needed to listen because his life experiences were not the same as mine. Once I started putting aside my pride the more I was able to learn and be taught from God. Now I am not trying to say I got it all together because I still have a lot to learn. All I can do is try my best to listen to others and figure out how God is trying to move in their life."

4. What do you wish more people knew?

"There so many things, and I am not too sure I am too qualified to talk about them. I will give you a couple of things. I wish more people understood that things in America are not as great as we think they are. I have seen so many kids that live their life in “survival mode.” I have had kids come into my life that the only meal they would get that day is the free meal they get at school. It is easy for us to look at the problems in the City and say if they just did this they would be better off, but we don’t have to grow up with the same problems. Another thing I wish people knew was that a listening ear can go a long way to fixing the problems we see. We need to understand that we don’t know what we don’t know."

5. Why is Derrick Rose so much better than Jimmy Butler?

"HAHA. For those of you that don’t know me and Adam debate this just about every week. I am not in the camp that thinks Rose is better than Butler. Rose stands for some good things. He is a kid from the City that gave many kids hope, but if I am running a basketball team, I am going for the guy that is the better player. Also, Butler is a guy we can all get behind as well. He has done many things to help out local ministries. I wish that Rose didn’t have all those injuries, but if you are going to spend over $20,000,000 a year on a player it needs to be someone who is in the prime of their career. I would love Rose to be back in Chicago one day but for a lot less money."

 

6. Which Chicago team do think is most involved in the city?

"I think all the teams do their part in the City. It is hard to grasp who does more because all teams are obligated to do things in the community. There are two things that I think are big for this City. One of them is the Championships. When the Cubs, Blackhawks, and White Sox won their championships it brought community. It is a time when everyone is coming together to cheer for the same thing. Also I think the D-Wade signing was much bigger than the game itself. Wade has been a Hall Of Fame talent, and because of that people listen when he speaks. He has shown great leadership for the team, and also the City. He stands up for issues he believes are important and does what he can to help give hope to the youth in Chicago."

7. What motivates you?

"Community! When I see people coming together with the common goal of making things better I get excited. When I see good things going on I want to be a part of it. I try my best to find out what role I play and get better at it. I had a friend tell me once that “We can’t be everything to everybody.” The point he was trying to make is that we have a role that we play in these kids lives, and our goal should be to be the best at that role. Once we start trying to do things that are not our role we lose our effectiveness. If we as the Church lived that way we would not be stopped. I know I have a long way to go, and pray that every day I can become a better version

of me."

 

Our First Giveaway

Adam Muncy

Could not have hoped for better reaction than the one we got from this guy.

Could not have hoped for better reaction than the one we got from this guy.

First and foremost, I want to thank you for allowing us to be the middlemen of this action. Without your purchases, none of this happens.

When we were planning the uniform distribution, we knew we wanted to do our pilot giveaway in Cicero, IL. To paint a picture of Cicero, it's population is 89% Hispanic. English is optional, but Spanish is not. In many families, the children act as interpreters for their parents. The town has a population of 89,000 with about a third of that being under the age of 18, and uniforms are required all the schools. To say Cicero has a high demand for uniforms, would be an understatement. In addition to that, the school recently switched from white to grey uniforms without notice so hand-me-downs were no longer useful.

We did our very best keep our shopping experiences consistent.

We did our very best keep our shopping experiences consistent.

This is where you guys came in, your purchase allowed for one school uniform a piece. We distributed them by 3 per kid. With some families having 3 elementary aged kids, they went pretty quick.

The experience of distributing the uniforms has left us even more motivated to bring you the best possible button down shirts so we can continue to provide uniforms in under resourced communities.

Why do we work backwards?

Adam Muncy

Before we knew we'd make Oxford cloth button downs, we knew we wanted to work with Inner City Impact.  Years ago, we were discussing how we could make an impact in Chicago with ICI, and he mentioned the need for school uniforms. It made us think of what had been our "uniforms" going through school. Everyday was a well-fitting shirt with a button-down collar usually paired with some dark denim. From there, we developed the concept of creating the best oxford cloth shirts we could imagine. 

 

Before we'd finished designing the first shirt, we knew we wanted our cutters and sewers to have a say in their work. We've always believed that there is a right way to do business. We know that just because we don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. So we found a factory that met all the requirements on paper then flew there to make sure they met all the requirements in real life. We've also known that environmental stewardship was incredibly important. That's why we chose to produce with a Honduran co-op. It's fairest to the cutters and sewers and decreases our carbon footprint. 

 

This is why we started brainstorming our next release after we found out waterproof gloves were in high demand. 

Q&A with Josh Simmons of Hillking Supply Co.

Adam Muncy

My first encounter with Josh Simmons was via a DM on Instagram sent from the parking lot of the Eddie Bauer warehouse in Hilliard, OH. We hit it off a month later doing an interview in a Waffle House off of I-70 in the middle of nowhere when we both discovered we were overly ambitious fashion nerds.  Since then, Josh has had as much of a role in the starting of the Hounds, Ltd. as anyone. 

Josh Simmons, Founder of Hillking Supply Co.

Josh Simmons, Founder of Hillking Supply Co.

 

1. Who are you? What do you do?

“My name is Josh Simmons and I am Founder and co-owner of Hillking Supply Company based out of Columbus, OH.”

 

2. Why did you decide to locate your brand in the Midwest?

"Three reasons really. The first and easiest answer is that its home. And not in some kind of inspirational, sub-text kind of way. It's just literally where I was born, where I've grown up and where I live currently. Secondly, as it's commonly stated, the Midwest is the country's test kitchen. It's where a lot of major corporations throw ideas to see if they stick with the "average consumer". You can't lose when the national standard for an "average" buyer is living next door. The third reason, which goes sort of hand-in-hand with the second is that this region is not only the country's test kitchen, in my eyes, but also its proving ground."

    

"It's said a lot about places like New York or Los Angeles that they're unforgiving cities and "if you can make it there you can make it anywhere"...I believe that holds a lot of weight, but I also think that the Midwest isn't made for everyone. I mean that to say that in a city with millions of people in a small overall area, it can be daunting but your level of exposure and recognition stands to grow the most because everyone is everywhere and they're all exposed to you, who you are and what you offer at the same time. In a place like Ohio, for instance, the landscape is a lot different. It means you have to work harder to gain exposure, to be seen, to be accepted and to be understood. So for a small brand trying to come up, your beginning is more of a concept of how to capture the attention and interest of a vastly diverse crowd that is spread out over a larger area as opposed to having thousands of people who fit your ideal consumer base right in your backyard. if any of that makes any sense."

 

The famous MDWST tee

The famous MDWST tee

3. What would be a dream accomplishment for you?

"There are a few that feel like dreams right now, just something far off in the future. The idea of opening a brick and mortar shop where we can fully convey our brand identity has always been a goal...or better a plan for the future. Others include things like outside collaborations, like a Vans collar would be HUGE one day. But on a smaller and more practical scale, my dream accomplishment would be to pay my team. Not like cut a check for the work they do, or split up profits but to actually pay them. Consistently...giving them a "real job" inside this thing we've created and paying them enough so that they don't need to supplement themselves with secondary work. Paying them all enough to support themselves and their families comfortably while doing what we love everyday. That's the dream."

 

4. Who do you want to collab with most?

"Most? That's tough. There's a handful of brand and companies that leave me in awe and inspire me...but coming from a heavily sneaker-influenced background (you know, before it was cool ha) like i said, Vans would be a dream. Not only for the shoe but because of what Vans has done and continues to do. They've built an empire of quality merchandise and an incredibly loyal fanbase off of what, six different silhouettes for the most part...for 50 years. That's nuts. That's the kind of brand integrity and consumer loyalty I want to shoot for."

 

5. What is your relationship to the Hounds?

"The Hounds? Who are they? Never heard of them. Ha, no, The Hounds is family. Adam, the founder, and a lot of the people associated with The Hounds actually contribute a lot to the origin story of Hillking Supply Co. Hillking had its first official brand meeting in August of 2014 where we discussed the desire to be in production and selling by the following summer. About 2 weeks after that meeting, when Hillking was a developing concept, we got a message from Adam, when he was still writing for The Village Style blog, saying that he had been following our account on IG (which at this point hadn't had any of our pieces featured yet because they were still in the design stage). He mentioned a season lookbook that The Village was shooting and an interest to feature our stuff. So naturally I replied professionally and expressed an interest to be included but to the rest of the team I was buggin' out. Adam threw us a deadline of I think November 1st so that the lookbook could be shot or delivered by Thanksgiving, so our 10 month projection for production got cut to like 2 and a half, and we weren't about to miss that shot. I personally had already followed Adam's work and the articles he did on Sole Classics and the OATW, so this was like the big time for us. So we jumped into production asap, got that feature on the blog and from there we got a handful of other offers to be featured in different blogs all over the state. Really we kind of owe our "spark" to The Hounds, indirectly but kind of directly."

 

6. What social cause resonates strongest with you and why?

"Arts and education in the arts. I try to steer clear of political standings and things like that because I have no dog in that fight, nor do I want one. I don't touch on issues of race and discrimination because I feel that taking a side in any kind of issue like that, even the side that says you don't take sides, is kind of hypocritical. I just use general kindness and honesty as a way to deal with everyone. In business sometimes it means you get taken advantage of or disrespected but so be it. I can only control me so that's what I do and at any opportunity I encourage others to do the same. But as far as education goes, I feel like a lot of what I've learned creatively has come from teachers. Then outside of that realm, when doing things on my own I've used a lot of the skills they taught me about how to track information to its source, how to fact check and how to be influenced and inspired without plagiarizing. So what I would really love to do at some point is facilitate a learning environment that provides a way for the next generation of creatives to do what they love or to pursue their creative goals without having to navigate the vast murky ocean of information the way many of us have just to get started. I want to be able to point creatives in the right direction and equip them with some essential tools and information that they'll need to make an honest go at success. I think Quest Love said it best: 

"Each One Teach One, then it can last forever.""

 

Belize in the summer

Belize in the summer

7. Tell us about your trip this past summer.

"Yeah, Belize. That was a horrifying culture shock stuffed with a beautiful experience. My wife and I spent 2 months there this past summer doing mission type work, and it was amazing. When I first got there the heat was what I noticed but then when I spent some time there I noticed what was really around me. People living in what we would classify as "run down" or "poverty stricken" areas, but they loved it. I loved it. People think one of two things when they think Belize. They think resorts and palm trees and beaches or they think third world and dirty water. Both are true, in a way, but are not mutually exclusive and to the people they don't know the difference. Belize is a third world country, but you wouldn't know that from the people. It's a much slower pace there, days seemed to go on forever because they weren't packed with all of the things we fill our time with to feel important. The scenery was gorgeous, the people were beautiful and the hospitality was incredible. I won't go on forever about it but I think I brought back one powerful change in my viewpoint which was caused by one couple we stayed with.

Our plan in Belize was to stay with a different family (friends of my wife from when she had lived there doing similar mission work for a year and half in 2011) for a week or two at a time for the duration of our stay to cut down on rooming costs. So we got to the last leg of our trip, with about 2 weeks to go, and we realized we hadn't made arrangements with anyone for that last 2 weeks. So, in passing, we mentioned that we were looking for a place to stay to this young couple (in their 30's). Almost immediately and without hesitation they offered us their spare room. They offered to pick us up form our current place in about an hour and so we packed and waited. 

When we were taken to their home, this was the moment that shocked me. It was tiny, maybe a little more than 600 sq ft. I was grateful for a roof so I didn't care. As soon as we got in they asked if we would help them move their bed out of their room, so we did. We moved it into the guest room and we felt bad and told them that we didn't want to take their bed ( as they only had one). The response was that we weren't taking their bed, they were giving us an air mattress in their room because it was "the room with the tv and cable so we could relax in our own space". I was amazed by that. Who gives up their whole room so that some "spoiled" americans can have cable tv? But it's just how the people there are. Giving in every sense of the word and without prejudice or reservation. So what I brought back with me was this:

"If I ever have anything that someone else needs or wants, and i don't absolutely need it, give it to them." No questions and no reservations. Places, countries, can all generally be looked at the same. Land & animals. But the people are what have an impact and that trip really changed my outlook and I'm convinced that nothing negative can come from having a giving attitude."

Thank You for 2016!

Adam Muncy

There are plenty of things to complain about in 2016, but it has been our best year. We have so many to thank in 2016.

Thank you to Radiant Church for providing the encouragement and accountability to not let the vision die in its infancy. Special thanks to Andrew, Emily, Shanna, Ian, Carissa, Brian, Jill, Jacob and Liz. 

Thank you to BadSpark Design for giving us a visual identity.

Thank you to Hillking Supply Co. founder Josh Simmons for always being available to vision cast and brainstorm. We literally would not even have a website domain without your guidance. Your daily conversations have been the only thing keeping the brand going on more days than we'd care to admit.

Thank you to Austin Rogers and Larry Belcher for providing the most perfect images.

Thank you to Ocean Accelerator and Sabo Investments for showing that our future wasn't so far away. Brad and James, you've both been a great encouragement. 

Thank you to all our manufacturers and suppliers. Your commitments to ethical standards and quality allow us to create wonderful products. We believe in how you operate.

Thank you to Inner City Impact in Chicago for handling all of our social ventures and helping to create the vision of what our brand could do. BJ, Chris, Brian and Dino, you've all been a huge help in everything you've done. Thanks for letting us play a small part in what you do every day. 

Thank you to 5x5 Night and the entire team at Start Garden. You're doing great work for the state of Michigan! Laurie and Tricia specifically have been great supporters. Even though we didn't get the W on pitch night, you helped us refine our vision and build great relationships.

Thank you to Dwayne Reed for donning our shirt in your viral videos and shouting out to us in so many of your interviews. We love what you're doing and are so excited to see what you do next.  

Thank you to Cedarville University for providing a liberal arts education. You taught us how to think and care. Please continue to teach liberal arts. Value your philosophy and humanities communities.

Thank you to my family. Without you, none of this would've been possible. Thank you to my parents for striving to understand the Millenial dream of being horribly underemployed while trying to make a difference in the world. Thank you to my siblings who've lent their skills to the Hounds, Ltd.

Thank you to my amazing wife to teaching me the importance of education and for being willing to cut corners on luxuries while bootstrapping the vision of what the Hounds, Ltd. could be.

Most of all, Thank YOU to everyone who has purchased a shirt. Whether YOU sent a kid camping or donated a school uniform, YOU made a difference in the life of a child. YOUR purchase enabled education. That education enabled empowerment.

Q&A with Noah Abe

Adam Muncy

One of my first backpacking trips was to Smoky Mountain National Park with a friend from high school. By the time we arrived at the trailhead it was after dark, but we hiked to the campsite to meet one of the coolest and most talented groups of Arkansawyers. Of the three guys we met, Seth was a vocalist; AJ, an artist; Noah, a photographer. When the wildfire broke out recently, I started looking through some of the amazing photos he'd taken the trip. It would be selfish of me not to share his talent with you. Meet my friend Noah.

Smoky Mountain National Park

Smoky Mountain National Park

 

1. Who are you? What do you do?

"My name is Noah Abe. I'm a filmmaker, based currently in Bentonville, Arkansas working at Adair Creative Web/Ad Agency as a DP/Editor."

2. How did you get started in photography/film?

"When I was about 15, I started making really terrible videos with my highschool friends using the family handycam and windows movie maker. My Dad noticed my interest in making videos and told me that program was basically crap and if I really wanted to learn he'd teach me final cut on his gigantic E-mac. The thing was the size of a jet engine. Years later leading up to graduation, I knew film was the the only thing I had interest in going to college for. As far as photography goes, I got into it a few years later. I freelanced as a Camera Assistant for a couple years and on the side I took photos as a hobby to keep the creative juices flowing."

Noah Abe

Noah Abe

3. What project are you most proud of?

"Haha...well I honestly got into personal work about 3 years ago, so that would have to be a short film called "Lone Hunter" I promise someday soon, the next one will come. Life got busy."

4. What is your dream project?

"Oh man, I've got a handful of them in my notes. I would have to say it's a Sci-fi love story titled "Alrai" that I've tossed around with a screenwriter friend of mine in Canada."

5. What is your most inspiring location?

"Thus far it has to be Joshua Tree. In the winter of 2014 I camped there and it happened to be at a rare time. The entire place was engulfed in an ethereal fog for 2 days."

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

6. What is your ultimate goal in your mediums?

"That is a question that I probably will have a different answer for as I get older. I know my ultimate goal is to create personal films for a living and on the side maybe sell film prints and have some gallery shows."

Smoky Mountain National Park

Smoky Mountain National Park

7. Who would you most like to work with?

"As of late I would have to say Jeff Nichols. - Director of Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special, and Loving - Really enjoy his work and would love to learn from that guy."

8. Lunch with anyone dead or alive, who do you choose?

"Ansel Adams for sure. He was practically married to the wilderness. Would love to know of all the trails I should hit up."

You can find Noah online at www.noahabe.com

Introducing Dwayne P. Reed Q&A

Adam Muncy

You may remember Dwayne from his viral video, "Welcome to the 4th Grade." We love Dwayne, and everything he does! We thought you'd like to learn a little bit more about him, too.

1. Who are you? What do you do?

"I'm Dwayne Reed from Chicago, IL, and I'm an educator. I just finished receiving my college degree, so now I'm licensed to be a school teacher."

2. Why did you decide to focus on education?

"I feel like education just kinda chose me. After several major changes in college, and actually dropping out at one point, the idea of spending my life serving children and their families just won me over one night."

3. What makes the Midwest special?

"Chicago makes the Midwest special. Ha. But more than that, I think Midwesterners all have a sort of confidence that says, 'Yeah we live in the middle of nowhere with nothing around, but don't mess with us.'"

4. What artists/leaders do you respect the most?

"I respect Jesus and Chance the Rapper. Jesus had a heart for the people, and his life was spent serving others. That's where I hope my heart can get to one day. Chano makes great music and gives it out for free. Additionally, he is a positive force to rally behind because of his goal, as well, to unite people. Both are phenomenal leaders."

5. Lunch with anyone dead or alive?

"I would probably have lunch by myself in the library or in my car. I'm a huge introvert, so sometimes I just need 20 minutes or so to recharge during my day. Haha. I'm down to meet with anybody else right after that!"

6. What is your relationship with the Hounds?

"I met Adam a few years back while volunteering in Chicago. I was attracted to his sense of style and ability to think "big-picture." He was just someone you could trust, and who made you care about his ideas. I've since rocked their gear in music videos and am excited to continue our relationship."

7. Dream career?

"Make great music. Visit schools across the world. Get fascinating books into the hands of all kids. Encourage and excite teachers, parents, and students. And oh--- Summers off :)"

8. What accomplishment are you most proud of so far?

"Doing things the way I'm most comfortable with - music, my teaching style, etc. Everyone's got something to say when you choose to switch things up from the norm. But I'm thankful that God has given me the strength and the faith to go against the norm, even when those around might be saying not to."

9. How did you start your journey volunteering?

"When Chicago had a school strike back in 2012 or 2013, I heard about the thousands of students who would have no place to go. So, I hit up leaders in Chicago and found out what businesses or ministries would be opening up their establishments to housing CPS students. I found one called Inner City Impact, and have been volunteering with them ever since... I am without question, the person I am today because of everything I've learned working at ICI."

Dollar Votes

Adam Muncy

We are not here to sing praises to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Thankfully, election season is over. We are here to talk business.

When done best, business is a democracy. Just like in our political system where your vote means something, business is based on voting. Every dollar you spend is a vote. When you purchase from Patagonia, you are voting for ethical production, honest sourcing and on-site daycare for employees. When you purchase from the Root Collective you vote for transparency, handcrafted shoes and women entrepreneurs. When you purchase from us, you vote for co-op production, lifetime quality and empowerment through education.

Likewise, your dollars spent elsewhere count just the same. Spending money on fast fashion votes for what can be dangerous working conditions and exploitative employment practices. Making purchases at some big box stores votes for the person handling your transaction to not make a living wage.

The free market is a beautiful thing because it allows you to choose who wins. It allows you say what's right. Do not use that ability carelessly.