Recently I came across a running apparel company that really caught my eye. I was scrolling through some deals on Left Lane Sports and saw a tech tee that was bright, hip and stood out as bit different from most running and technical apparel. I was intrigued and googled the brand, “Janji” and was met with pages of totally fun and exciting apparel that had a new and vibrant feel all it’s own. As I looked further into the company my intrigued only continued to grow as I realized Janji’s mission was to “run for another.” Their business model revolves around donating portions of their sales to help provide clean drinking water in a number of under-developing countries as well as here in the United States.
Janji had two awesome things going for it right from the get go; a look all it’s own and a devotion to giving back. Wanting to know more I sent an email to the email given on Janji’s site. About a day later I heard back from Dave Spandorfer, the cofounder of Janji. I explained my interest in what Janji was doing and how they were doing it and asked if I could ask a few questions, interview style, about what Janji is all about. Below are my questions in italics and Dave’s responses.
* * * * *
Janji is focused on giving back and helping those less fortunate. Janji’s tag line is “Run for Another.” What does it mean to “Run for Another” and how can people get involved?
We really believe at Janji that runners are just amazingly good people. Runners race for a cause. They run to support one another. And the way we see it, runners should have a brand that also gives back. That’s why all of our gear goes back to giving clean water—something that’s so fundamental to running, but something basic that hundreds of millions of people around the world lack.
That being said, Janji isn’t a substitute for charity—we still want people to race for a cause and run for something bigger. But if we can find a way to give back simply through buying running apparel that feels good, looks good, and does good, we as a runners can accomplish some pretty cool things.
How does the Janji business model work? That is to say, could you take me through how a purchase of Janji apparel is used to provide clean drinking water for those in under-developing countries and in the USA?
Every piece of Janji apparel gives clean water specifically to a country. So let’s take Janji’s new Men’s Haiti Longsleeves, one of my personal favorites. When someone buys it online, we give one year of clean water to someone in Haiti by sending 10% of the online sale ($4.60) to our partner in Haiti, Water.org. These aren’t water bottles we’re sending over; we’re building deep water wells and filtration devices that give families in Haiti access to clean and safe water, something too many people in the world lack.
You and Mike are the co-founders of Janji. What prompted you to team up and combine your mutual love of running with a desire for providing clean drinking water through the development of a running apparel brand?
Mike Burnstein and I came up with the idea for Janji on the way to the Division III NCAA track meet, where we were both running the 10k. The day we ran was one of the hottest recorded May days in Cleveland history. So before the 25 lap race we hydrated endlessly and then during the race we had a water spray on one side of the track and cups for drinking water on the other side. We felt so lucky to have the resources we needed to run that race, and wanted to use our sport to give back in a way that no one else was doing.
Janji means “promise” in Malay. What “promise” is Janji seeking to uphold and why should people support it?
We feel extremely lucky to have been born in the US and to be able to run whenever we feel like it (so long as we’re healthy!). It’s our promise as a running community to use this amazing sport to give back in a way that’s beyond just achieving personal bests. For us, that means helping improve access to clean water in places around the globe that aren’t so fortunate.
Besides the fact that Janji is doing amazing things to positively influence and help countless individuals and families Janji has a unique style. In a market of bright running apparel Janji stands out with unique designs and colors that are bold yet still warm, soft and diverse. What are some of your influences for clothing designs and colors?
Nearly all of the influences come from geographical inspirations we find in the country the shirt benefits. We certainly want to give it the soft and warm feel, but we also want our designs to stay deeply rooted in the communities that we help. So for Janji’s Men’s Kenya Longsleeve, we take an iconic animal from Kenya (the Zebra) and then interlace the pattern with Maasai inspired textile prints. We want Janji running apparel to look really different from everything else out there, since we’re different than any other brand out there.
People generally seem like they want to give back and they want to be a part of a good cause. What personal touches does Janji use to cultivate that desire and help people feel a part of the cause?
That’s a great question. Janji is about giving back, although we often don’t want to be too explicit about it since that can often rub people the wrong way. That being said, we also know that to run for another is an inspiring thing. That’s why every piece of Janji carries subtle reminders: we have the shirt’s often abstract country geographical inspiration, the back neck that reminds people where the shirt goes to, and then an awesome Janji logo badge on the front that reads “run for another” with a water droplet on the inside.
Lastly, Janji is currently working with four organizations in six countries including the United States to provide clean drinking water. What are Janji’s long term goals for reaching other countries and other individuals?
That’s a great question as well. We’re obviously small and just starting out, but since we launched two years ago we’ve expanded from two countries to six. The goal over the next two years is to expand into even more countries around the world, such as India and Ethiopia this spring, and build Janji into a running brand that can one day make the lives better for millions of people worldwide. We have big dreams, but then again, we have a supportive community of runners behind us. Runners are great people who love to make the world better through their sport.
* * * * *
For more information on Janji, their unique and extremely comfortable apparel as well as their story, visit their site at runjanji.com. Also, keep an eye out for my review of some seriously awesome Janji apparel coming soon!