CEO Matt Taylor shares how he’s connecting the running community.
Since 2014, running apparel brand Tracksmith has quietly catered to some of the fittest, gathering a clientele of competitive yet amateur runners. Recently, the company moved its headquarters from Wellesley, Massachusetts, to Boston proper, where they also opened the Trackhouse, their first store.
Here, CEO and co-founder Matt Taylor (who ran cross country and track at Yale) talks about the brand he’s built, the underserved “running class,” and more.
How important are Tracksmith’s Boston roots?
Tracksmith is a quintessentially New England brand. We're inspired by the region’s heritage, no-nonsense mindset, and the local running culture. The characteristic weather, the landmark races, and the area’s many college and club teams are all reflected in our brand, our products, and our ethos.
It’s no accident that our first home in Wellesley was right on the halfway point of the Boston Marathon course and our new spot at 285 Newbury Street is just a few yards from the finish. We love everything about this city and its runners. We’re privileged to call it our home and are constantly finding inspiration from the athletes we meet here.
Who is Tracksmith made for?
We’re champions of the running class, which we define as a vastly underserved portion of the running market. These are runners who are competitive, but not professional—the millions who train and race in the pursuit of personal excellence.
We’re focused on crafting products that fulfill the performance needs of competitive runners. We’re obsessed with selecting materials and including details that make the biggest difference for these athletes such as comfort (no seams that will chafe on a long run) and utility (a phone pocket in a location that will reduce movement). It’s this single-minded focus on what serious runners need that really sets us apart from brands that are trying to cater to a broader fitness audience.
What’s the thought process behind selling apparel like The BQ Singlet, which is only available to Boston Marathon qualifiers?
Boston is not only the oldest marathon in the world, but also has the hardest qualifying standards. Achieving a BQ is something runners chase and covet. It’s a sign of personal excellence and a standard that’s deeply ingrained in running culture. For us, it just made sense to craft a product that celebrated the BQ. We’ve released one each year since 2014.
Tell us about Trackhouse.
The Trackhouse is our headquarters and a community hub for runners. The name was really intentional. It’s a homebase for runners to come train, recover, or just hang out. We host three workouts a week: a Tuesday speed workout, a Thursday tempo run, and Sunday long run.
After the Boston Marathon, we were packed with everyone from locals to athletes from Denmark, the U.K., and Mexico sharing stories. We even had a new athlete-driven coffee company, Linden & True Coffee, (founded by Ryan and Des Linden with Ben and Sarah True) offer tastings in the space.
What's the biggest lesson running has taught you about business?
Running taught me that it’s important to set lofty goals, but it’s just as important (if not more so) to establish the good habits that will get you there. It takes discipline, as a young runner and a young brand, to form and stick to habits, but they ultimately make all the difference.
What does your personal exercise routine look like?
Right now I’m nursing a labrum tear in my hip, so it’s a little different than what I might like. But last year I turned 40 and that inspired me to set some new goals and embrace new running challenges like trying to improve my mile time. With my work schedule and with two kids, it’s a lot easier to focus and push hard for a serious 30-minute track workout than the hours required for marathon training.
Where do you see Tracksmith in five years?
We’ll be doing a lot of what you see us doing now: celebrating and catalyzing running culture, just on a broader scale and with greater reach. We want to be more present in the lives of runners and find more ways to connect the community. We’re thinking through ways to have more of a physical presence, but also expand internationally. The running community transcends borders, so we want to tap into the global culture and those experiences in ways that are authentic and true to our sport.