By: Mountain Product Developer, Mark Genito
There’s no denying it, people are weird. They’re everywhere you look. Like that couple grocery shopping barefoot or that guy who talks about his cats like they’re his children (guilty). There is no escaping them, but the weirdoes are the ones that make life more colorful, more interesting, and more fun. They look at your status quo and your industry standards and they yawn, unimpressed and they choose their own way forward. Some of the finest weirdoes I’ve ever met have all come from the same place, Mystery Ranch Backpacks.
I started working at Mystery Ranch in 2008, at a time when we were just a group of 30+ oddballs trying to keep the lights on for a young-ish company still trying to get its footing. Nowadays, we are a collection of about a hundred equally as strange but ever committed individuals and the lights are still on, the machines are still running and our little family of weirdoes keeps growing. Each one has made an indelible impression on my life and on the brand itself. At the Ranch, we’ve had all the tattoos, the piercings, and the un-ironic mustaches. We’ve had that one dude that cuts the sleeves off all his shirts and famously never wears underwear. We’ve had the brave men that wear kilts in the dead of winter and nail polish in the light of day. We’ve had the bold women with dreads, hot pink hair dye, and shaved heads. We affectionately call ourselves Ranchers and we’re the heart and soul of an anti-corporate culture at Mystery Ranch that celebrates individuality. Being different is seen as an asset. Being a little odd is seen as a valuable qualification. In other words, weird is good, and weird is encouraged.
Owner and famed backpack designer Dana Gleason once celebrated the grand opening of his Bozeman facility by having an employee cut the tie off his neck instead of having a traditional ribbon cutting. That was the only time I’ve ever seen Dana wear a tie. He seems to hate them and what they represent. Being traditional is not really our thing. That act was a cue to the rest of us to follow his lead. It was a declaration of weird that said Hey, we’re different and we do things a little differently around here and we’re not going to apologize for it. The weird trickles down from the top and is present in every part of the company. The employee that did the cutting of the necktie that day had a business card that read “Ranch Hand” as his official job title. The shears he used to cut the necktie live on as a tattoo on his calf with pride.
And we are proud of what we’ve built here. No doubt we’ve matured a lot over the past 20-years as a company and a brand, but spend a few days hanging around the Ranch and you’ll see that the same culture of weird is good still persists. We’re not only a company defined by the gear we make but also by the people that make it.
Photo Cred.: Mountain Product Developer, Mark Genito