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Over a decade ago, after graduating from college, Brett Farrell lived with his parents in his hometown in New York. He wanted to get out and explore, so he dreamed up a trip and bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand. After spending six months in New Zealand, he went to Southeast Asia, Nepal, and South America. For Brett, this was a very formative experience. “I decided to go after what was in my gut,” explains Brett.

After the trip and returning to New York, Brett moved to Oregon. “I thought Oregon would be like New Zealand,” he clarified. “Plus, being a runner in high school, I had a vision of Oregon being a great place to run.” Brett got a job at a running store in Portland and started running in Forest Park. His first race was the Dirty Half in Bend, Oregon. A few months later, Brett joined a friend for the Big Horn 50k and was hooked on the trail running culture. “I got sucked in and really wanted to be part of the community I saw at these races,” says Brett.

 

One of the first Territory Run Co. sunrise runs at Pittock Mansion in Portland.

 

Brett also noted a gap in gear dedicated to trail running. Working at the running shop, he noticed that most significant brands were marketing around pain, discomfort, and overcoming hardship. Brett identified with the beauty of running and being out in nature. “There was a stereotype of runners being crazy or type A,” clarifies Brett. “Trail running was the opposite; it was more like rock climbing and other outdoor sports, which appealed to me. It inspired the idea to create a brand that represented that culture, and at the time, there really wasn’t a brand that did for running.”

Brett was enlightened to follow his gut and start a new trail-running brand. The hardest part was coming up with a name. In October 2013, he started working on the brand, but the Territory Run Co. name didn’t appear until spring 2014. He gathered friends (running and non-running) at his house to spit out words to inspire the company name. “My roommate said Territory, and I decided, ‘That’s it!'”

Brett started marketing Territory Run Co. on Instagram to promote the vibe he was going for and created a small following. He launched a website with some blog posts. Territory Run Co.’s first product was a T-shirt with a mountainous trail and an arrowhead graphic made by artist and runner Zach Minard, which Brett connected with through the Portland design community. “We had a launch party with a band and a keg, and people started buying the shirts there.”

 

The first product from Territory Run Co.

 

Eventually, Territory began promoting the shirts on Instagram, and orders on the website followed. His friends also helped by promoting the shirt on Instagram. “I had online orders from people I didn’t even know!” exclaimed Brett. “It was really well received and gave me a lot of energy. There wasn’t much out there for trail running brands, so it was easier for us to get noticed and feel like a bigger deal.”

Orders started coming in from all over the US, different parts of Europe, and even Japan. Territory’s next product was a “Runners of the Wild” T-shirt with unique lettering and trees on the side. The following product was the Wy’east trucker hat, which had a patch Territory logo involving mountain and horizon lines. Brett continued making new products while working part-time at Foot Traffic until 2015 when Territory Run Co. warranted enough revenue to commit all his efforts to the business.

 

The Wy’East trucker hat was Territory Run Co.’s first hat. Hats now make up 40% of Territory’s sales.

 

The Runners of the Wild membership program started in the fall of 2015. It was the first time Territory sold items as a kit. The products consisted of lifestyle t-shirts, hats, socks, and hoodies. “They were all cotton-based items,” added Brett. We added a tank, headwrap, plus a team feel that Territory’s base really liked.” The Runners of the Wild membership program continues today, with members worldwide.

Jordan Carey, a fellow trail runner and friend, was the second employee at Territory. “We were ripping on ideas before he even came to work for me,” Brett declared. “It was great bouncing things off Jordan and getting excited about products. It was an easy decision to bring him on board.” Jordan helped with products and came up with good ideas, like the Goonies Run.” Now, the Territory team consists of Aly Drake, Mack Robertson, and Kate Cornelius, in addition to Brett.

Territory subsequently added the Sunrise Run in Portland, a once-a-month trek to the Pittock Mansion. The first Sunrise Run had 10-12 people. Eventually, up to 50 runners started showing up. Sunrise runs eventually started taking place in five different cities nationwide. They continued until the pandemic of 2020.

 

A group run in the Columbia Gorge from the earlier days.

 

Territory added performance-based products and paid attention to detail on every item added to the catalog, creating a loyal customer base excited to try the next available product. “We were after the super-soft T-shirt that people wanted to keep buying, as well as keeping the vibe of the lifestyle we were going for.” Caps are 40% of sales, followed by performance t-shirts, running shorts, all-day hoodies, socks, and trail running accessories to make up the product base. Its latest hit is the running belt. They will bring back some products of the past, like shoe bags and other complementary items.

Lately, Territory Run Co. has been returning to its community focus by holding more events in Portland. One Sunday per month, the Easy Miles run happens from the storeroom and warehouse in N. Portland under the St. Johns Bridge. A monthly Runners of the Wild run takes place on trails just outside of Portland, hopefully on trails people have never been on.

Almost all sales are done directly, but Brett hopes the brand will expand to wholesale. Territory has done well running shops like Seven Hills in Seattle and Foot Traffic in Portland. “Expanding our brand to other stores feels like the right path forward,” Brett clarifies. “We will focus almost entirely on hats, making collaborative efforts with the store owners.”

 

The first Territory Run Co. shirt was displayed at Seven Hills in Seattle.

 

Other trail-running brands have emerged since Territory Run Co. was launched ten years ago. Brett hopes that his focus on the community and staying true to its focus will keep its loyal customers and extend the brand for many years to come. “When it really comes down to it,” adds Brett, “you unpack all of the layers, and we feel closer to how we should feel as human beings. Living in our busy, chaotic society, you can feel free when you get out on the trails. That’s the messaging of what’s underneath it all and hopefully what people latch on to with Territory.”

This post may contain affiliate links, for which Northwest Dirt Churners receives a small commission from any sale when clicked from this site. These commissions will provide entry fees for youth runners in Northwest Dirt Churners trail races.