How jaylife13 Brand was Born: The Life We Choose To Live

Posted on September 30 2020

jaylife13 backpack creator

I started climbing when I was 19, took my first lessons through the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) and from there overloaded myself with various mountain related courses and finally decided to leave the big city and go climb full time in the mountains in Banff! So at 21, this is back in the early 90’s, with the help of my dad, we reconditioned a white 1980 Ford cargo van with a sliding panel door on the side so I could use it as a camper. I spent the next 18 months living in that beast over the winters, climbing all year round. I worked in the local outdoor retail stores to pay for my new climbing habit. I was fortunate to meet up with some like-minded climbers and we built our own little community. We climbed almost every day for the next 5 years, honing our skills, surviving near-death experiences, and all in all having an amazing time!

I eventually moved back to the big city, Calgary, in ‘96, and got a job working for one of the small outdoor retailers in the city. I was fortunate to have a certain talent for selling and a wonderful gift-of-the-gab so I flourished in an environment that allowed me to sell products I was passionate about and that also showed me more of that particular industry. I worked my way up to buyer and manager and eventually invested in the business and became a partner. I continued to grow in the outdoor retail industry, dealing with manufactures and suppliers on a daily basis.

I got exposed to some amazing professionals because of my climbing and outdoor retail associations and through many wonderful buying trips to the states. I got exposed to my idols, like Barry Blanchard, Alex Low, Conrad Anker, Lynn Hill, Mark Twight, Reinhold Messner and of course the man himself, Yvon Chouinard. I was also exposed to the many local hardcore climbers who inspired me, who had far more talent and experience than I ever had and who pushed the boundaries of their own limits on every climb. I also experienced great loss as friends pushed too hard and didn’t survive...

Over the years of building relationships and developing my management style, I was able to create an opportunity in 2002 along with some partners and investors and we opened up the first Patagonia outdoor clothing boutique in Western Canada, called Elements Inc. When we started we had a lot of push back from people and Patagonia who thought I was crazy to specialize in one brand. In the beginning we didn’t get much support from Patagonia corporate but within 18 months we had proved our value by presenting their product and brand in a way that reflected their companies philosophy and so they eventually gave us the green light and fell on board. Over the next few years we grew rapidly and successfully.

The work was rewarding but stressful and I learned the hard way that working too hard can break a person's will and eventually that’s what happened to me. After having the freedom to climb whenever and wherever I wanted to, I had a challenging time finding balance with life, work and expectations working as a full time owner, and found myself suffering from severe depression in a time when mental illness was taboo to talk about especially for a man who does manly things...So after five successful years and a business that had cash in the bank, my partners presented me with an opportunity to buy me out, so given the circumstances I accepted their offer to move on.

A year into my sabbatical, my best friend needed help with an expanding renovation business. The industry at that time in Calgary was booming and so we had plenty of work! My friend then decided to pack up and move out to the west coast and I was pretty much left with a new renovation business. I literally fell into it! I’d had years of experience with the construction industry as my dad was an architect and built 11 homes with four boys (my three brothers and I) over 15 years. Not to mention every summer through high school I worked as an apprentice on various construction sites or projects. And with the expert guidance from my licensed and qualified friends I developed a well trusted and dedicated custom renovation business called Serenity Ventures Inc.

I ran and operated that business solely until July 2018, finally pulling the trigger on shutting it down as my body started to rebel against the long hours and hard labour. So I packed up the reno biz, sold my truck and trailer and became a stay-at-home husband until I could reinvent myself again and heal my broken body.

Thus bringing us to jaylife13. Feb 2019 I was at rock bottom. Here I am at 50, no job, no direction, just basically floundering. Like most of us, I was not dealing well with the mental diarrhea and stresses I put on myself to find the answers to “what’s next?”.

My wife and I were doing an intensive personal development program with Mada Dalian at the time, which was fortuitous as it helped me break the mold so to speak on some old habits and limiting beliefs. So began a shift and I started to write down all the things I love and that inspire me!

From that experience I was able to focus my attention and move in a direction away from self doubt and self-loathing. If I’m not moving, I’m not going anywhere! I began to focus my talents and skills into new areas of passion and realized I could start again with something completely different while using my years of experience from all those other environments I lived, worked and played in.

I decided to make a brand and make that brand about me and my life. Hence the brand jaylife13. Thirteen happens to be my birth date and helped me create a unique way of giving my brand some distinction. The brand is based on my love for adventure and travel and having the right gear with you always. So I designed and manufactured my own waterproof backpack that could take you from mountain to ocean and from home to office while always keeping your stuff dry and look good doing it! Basically a pack that keeps all your stuff dry!

My wife and partner is my biggest supporter and helps keep me on track with her unconditional love and support and her money! Not too mention the wonderful ambassadors and many friends who have tested and bought my pack and shared their experiences. So to all of them I say thanks for believing in me and supporting this new venture!

As I continue into my fifties I am finding more sports and adventures to try. I’m totally stoked on white water paddle boarding and river-surfing. These sports are the perfect showcase for our waterproof Sensu backpacks. 

So this brings us back to jayllife13, this brand is a reflection of my life, my love for the wild places and my love for trying new things, staying active everyday, moving in a direction that promotes positive growth and regardless of how I feel, living authentically and in balance with what I’m trying to do. I’m not always successful but I’m always moving forward.

As we move through life under the halo of Covid-19 things will change again, how we adapt and move forward will be even more important so be safe, be inspired, grow and support your communities and small businesses and most of all have fun!


Live long and Prosper.


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