Rugged Black started by entrepreneurial Colorado couple in middle of pandemic

Talk about your business pivot.

Matt and Allison Addison started a business that allowed people to pay a monthly fee to book with salons on a centralized online platform. Matt said the business offered women an all-inclusive pass and allowed them to pay $100 a month to “get done whatever they wanted to get done.”

“We were humming along and we had some really good traction. And then the pandemic hit,” he said.

Hair, nail and other salons were among the businesses that quickly closed to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“We were faced with the reality that we’re collecting money from people and they don’t get any service,” Matt said.

So, the couple, who live in Commerce City, stopped members’ payments and switched their focus to another venture the two had been working on: athleisure wear for men. The company, Rugged Black, raised more than $12,000 in a month on Kickstarter.

“I feel like we pivoted so much it turned into a 360,” Matt said.

Talk about pivoting has become more common as businesses try to adapt to the pandemic-induced upheavals in the economy. While the timing for the salon marketing business was off, it seemed perfect for a new take on men’s athletic/casual clothing. After all, who’s wearing suits and ties with so many people working from home?

“We came to an epiphany when I looked down at what I was wearing and I looked at what Allie was wearing. It was like she gets to look good and feel good in the Lululemon pants and I’m stuck with big, baggy cotton joggers,” Matt said. “That definitely didn’t spark joy at all.”

But it did spark their enthusiasm to pursue the men’s wear idea. Allison, an attorney who works on mergers and acquisitions, started out majoring in fashion. Matt, a former management consultant with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, worked with Allison on design and the kind of material to use.

They researched the men’s athleisure wear that was available and didn’t find much of what they had in mind. They wanted a clean, simple design with no big logos for the pants and hoodies.

“The material itself is kind of a work in progress,” Allison said. “You want to be able to find that balance where you have something that allows the stretch but also has durability.”