It’s common for successful companies to have a good slogan. The Morehead-based company New Frontier Outfitters, founded by brothers Jared (16) and Joshua Ravenscraft, is no different.
Made for the Journey.
The slogan, motto and mantra are an appropriate summation of the outdoor lifestyle and apparel company with a heavy emphasis on the brother’s Appalachian roots growing up in Morehead. The Ravenscraft brothers’ journey in business has been a memorable one made in large part due to their respective and collective experiences at MSU.
The brothers grew up in Rowan County and their family still owns and operates Atkinson Florist in Morehead. The oldest Ravencraft brother, Jared, always dreamed of playing college basketball and eventually going pro. After injuries plagued his last two years of high school, he initially attended Kentucky Christian University in Grayson for two years before transferring to MSU as a walk-on his junior year.
“That was a dream come true,” Jared said. “I got back to a good playing level and rehabbed my injuries and felt like I got another chance.”
On the way to earning a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications in 2016, Jared was a part of the team that set the school record for most wins in a season, making it to the finals of the College Basketball Invitational.
Traveling the country with the MSU basketball team allowed Jared the chance to indulge his appreciation for fashion. He picked up gear from obscure brands in surf shops and local apparel stores. He even gave presentations on some of these brands’ creative directors in some of his communications classes.
It was the hours and dedication required from his basketball coaches that gave him his work ethic.
“There was no time for slacking, so I really quickly had to adjust to having a set schedule,” Jared said. “It just set a lot of quality and a lot of standards.”
Joshua’s MSU journey began just as Jared’s was ending.
Joshua said after Jared completed school and basketball, they immediately started reconnecting and bonding over their love for Appalachia and the outdoors. They also stumbled upon a stash of old ski badges and their father’s vintage trucker hats. Next thing you know, they are building a website in their family’s kitchen and manufacturing and selling trucker hats to students on campus and at nearby community festivals out of the back of their Jeep.
“He’s (Jared) kind of the head in the sky and I’m kind of the feet on the ground,” Joshua said of his sibling business partnership. “We felt like there needed to be a voice here in this region. And somebody saying good things about this area and clothing is the path we took.”
Joshua began taking the concepts he was learning in his business courses at MSU and applying them to New Frontier Outfitters. And that company tagline, “Made for the Journey,” had its birthplace on campus.
“The slogan that’s been there from the jump, I came up with that doodling in (Dr. Ahmad) Hassan’s room,” Joshua said of his business management professor. “Just cool stuff like that wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have been at Morehead State and been involved with the business department.”
As the company grew, its hats and apparel were being sported by Kentucky-based country acts like Sundy Best and Troy Gentry from Montgomery Gentry. New Frontier Outfitters ended up landing an unofficial celebrity endorsement that put the company on the map.
Popular actor Channing Tatum was filming a promotional tour across the country for his 2017 release “Logan Lucky.” When he came to Morehead to visit Harold White Lumber, Jared and Joshua made sure to have a goodie bag of merchandise for him. During his interviews for the film, he was frequently sporting a “Made for the Journey” trucker hat and wearing it at various outings. The brothers were on a flight when the footage and pictures of him wearing the hat began making the rounds in the press and on social media.
“We landed and took our phones off airplane mode,” Joshua recalled. “Our phones lit up like Christmas trees. Channing Tatum?”
“In today’s culture, people almost don’t believe you unless an influencer or someone famous supports it,” Jared said. “It’s like playing basketball at The Rec and someone drops 50 points and someone’s like, this kid’s good.”
Awareness of New Frontier Outfitters has since traveled far beyond Eastern Kentucky. They have a staffed brick-and-mortar location in downtown Morehead and have been receiving online orders from as far away as The Netherlands. The two were also floored last year when the company received the 2019 Martha Layne Collins Award for Excellence in International Trade from World Trade Center Kentucky.
“I was really shocked to receive that. I was like, wow, I thought they only gave these to huge companies,” Jared said. “It just goes to show you – you don’t have to be great to start. You don’t have to be some huge corporate company. You can build it from the ground up.”
Accolades aside, they take even more pride in how they produce their products, using eco-friendly inks, manufacturing in the United States and consistently focusing on sustainability.
“You can’t be an outdoors brand and use materials that are bad for the environment. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot,” Jared said. “It’s cool to be eco-friendly now. It’s cool to be good to the environment and (the customers) are realizing that.”
New Frontier Outfitters’ profile has increased and so has its mission. They are less concerned about being a current trend and more determined to have a lasting impact. The net proceeds of certain apparel items benefit organizations like the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Foundation or Direct Relief, a global humanitarian aid organization. The company had to put its plans to expand the business and its offerings on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead started manufacturing cloth face masks, where every mask purchased means the company donates one to Team Kentucky.
“Being a brand doesn’t mean you make cool products. It has more weight to me. For the brand we want to be, you have to have a mission and you have to have some social responsibility,” Jared said.
Joshua said, “When you go to bed at night, it’s like, these are actually helping people and it’s through New Frontier.”
The Ravenscraft brothers owe a lot to the area they love. They grew in up Rowan County and gained knowledge through college classes and athletics while grinding in the company’s early days on MSU’s campus. They have galvanized their company’s mission so the products they make matter and contribute to worthy causes. Jared and Joshua Ravenscraft hope the journey New Frontier Outfitters takes in the future always circles back to giving Morehead – from the people to the surroundings – the spotlight, respect and appreciation it deserves.
“At the end of the day, all brands have a voice and we want to have a strong voice and that heavy community footprint to do good,” Joshua said. “I think good things are coming out of Morehead and we’re just a small part of that.”
For more information on New Frontier Outfitters, visit www.madeforthejourney.com.