Turning One Athlete's Trash into a Successful Business
Atayne, based in Portland, ME, gets its raw material through a cheap and dirty strategy -- from the streets, literally.
By Alex Davidson
Trashole. Rubber necking. Going mechanic.
Those terms may sound like new snowboarding moves, or even names high-schoolers use in social circles. But, believe it or not, they’re actually part of a successful marketing campaign. They belong to a new vocabulary created by entrepreneur Jeremy Litchfield, founder of a clothing company that makes athletic wear from recyclables.
As a way to hawk his products on the cheap, Litchfield created “Trash Running,” where people, clothed in his Atayne shirts and given roles like “picker” or “holder,” follow marathon runners and collect all types of trash. Not only do they label someone a “trashole” if he drops his water bottle, but they get media attention, raw materials and a captive audience -- all for free.
“We had to come up with unique and free ways to cut through the clutter,” said Litchfield, who started Atayne (pronounced “attain”) in September 2008. “[Trash running] has been such a great opportunity for us. It’s given us a way to get involved with a race but not spend a lot of money.”