Video: JanSport History

Discover the history of JanSport. Find out how the brand came to be and get the inside scoop from one of the JanSport founders.
 

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Kirsten Chapman: You no doubt know the JanSport brand known for it's superior quality and out of this world customer service. But, what you might not know is it's history and as if quality and customer service alone weren't enough to make you fall in love, wait until you hear the JanSport story.

Skip Yowell: Hey look, there's a JanSport!

Kirsten Chapman: Meet Skip Yowell, one of the founders.

Skip Yowell: 40 years later, I still get really excited when I see product on people's backs all over the world.

Kirsten Chapman: Skip writes in his book, "The Hippie Guide To Climbing The Corporate Ladder And Other Mountains," that the history of JanSport plays out much like a movie. A small family business armed with an idea, works out of a transmission shop and ultimately becomes one of the world's most recognized brands.

Skip Yowell: We were just hoping to survive, and really turned into business and not have to get another job.

Kirsten Chapman: Skip's cousin, Murray, had visions of building a better framed pack and selling them to climbers. He invented the frame and asked his girlfriend, Jan, to sew the pack. In exchange, he'd name the company after her.

Skip Yowell: She didn't blink a second.

Kirsten Chapman: But, she had to marry him too.

Skip Yowell: It's always fun to see somebody say, "Oh, you're Jan of JanSport," and see Jan with a big smile.

Kirsten Chapman: Having a strong love for the outdoors, products were born out of their own needs, like when they got caught in a blizzard in Washington's Cascade Mountains. Only one picture was taken before the camera froze in the five below temperatures and they nearly froze too. Their traditional A-frame tent wasn't covering it.

Skip Yowell: Our zipper broke in the front of the tent, and we couldn't keep our stove lit and the aluminum pull on the inside was rolling around like a helicopter. Jan thought she was going to die.

Kirsten Chapman: What they needed was an igloo. What they invented was the dome tent.

Skip Yowell: You could move it, you could turn it upside down to shake out the dirt. It held up in high winds. There was a lot of room.

Kirsten Chapman: An industry revolutionized by three self-proclaimed hippies. As Skip tells it, they had no business plan, no special training, even less money, no store; just Murray's innovative design, Jan's skill, and Skip's instincts and love of people.

Skip Yowell: Our passion was living our lifestyle and turning it into a business.

Kirsten Chapman: Founded in 1967 on the principles of getting out and discovering life for yourself, to own JanSport is to own a piece of Americana, to own a piece of a dream. For eBags, I'm Kirsten Chapman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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