Ryan Mayo, a CU Boulder Alum, is the CEO and Founder of Last Exit Goods - an American made leather, canvas, and outdoor goods company. Ryan began Last Exit Goods as a side hustle in 2012, then went full time in 2015. The company's name was inspired by the Pearl Jam song, “Last Exit”.
“I’ve spent most of my career in and around cities, so I always pined for the getaway to nature...skiing, biking, fishing...it’s the world beyond the pavement that inspires adventure”
Before beginning Last Exit Goods, Ryan worked for Clif Bar. He found that he spent a lot of time thinking about what was going into his body, but not about what he was putting on his body - what he was wearing. He went home, audited his closet, and found himself taken aback by the lack of domestic clothing he owned. He began looking into companies that were producing their clothing stateside and found a number of cool and influential brands that were doing it.
“I was looking for an American made belt and couldn’t find one at any of the stores I normally shop at...I like to work with my hands, I needed a belt, I figured - ‘Why not give it a go?’”
The Conservation Alliance
Last Exit Goods is a member of The Conservation Alliance, a group of more than 150 outdoor industry companies that contribute money to support nonprofits dedicated to conserving and protecting public lands. Ryan was inspired by Clif Bar’s participation in The Conservation Alliance and wanted to give back to the wild places he loves.
“I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, it’s a really inspired place for me to be. I have the same voting power as the big guys… [and] you really know where your money is going.”
Striving for a complete ‘Made in the USA’ supply chain
Although his biggest priority is quality and durability, one of Ryan’s goals for Last Exit Goods is to build a completely ‘Made in the USA’ supply chain. Although he’s close, he’s not at the finish line yet. The last milestone is some of the hardware for the goods. “I always have a desire to be working toward something more. It can be hard to find suppliers, but I don’t plan on relinquishing this dream.”
Ryan’s favorite product in production is the Animas Wallet. He has been carrying one for around for four years and appreciates its design and ability to carry the things he needs with him every day. His favorite feature is the raw leather material he uses - “it gets so much better with age”. If that’s not a quality you want in a product, I don’t know what is!
Thoughts on entrepreneurship
“I love that despite the roller coaster experience that is the entrepreneurial effort, I feel that I am very much in control of my destiny…I am in charge of my time, where I put my resources, and how I focus on the brand and the efforts of the company. No two days are ever the same. It’s exciting but humbling.”
Ryan runs most aspects of Last Exit Goods by himself. Although he works with a few manufacturing people, some collaborative partners, and some photography and designs folks, he does a vast majority of the work alone.
“I underestimated the loneliness factor of being an entrepreneur. Before Last Exit Goods, I worked in very dynamic and collaborative organizations for a long time. Working on my own, I dont have the luxury of having a lot of people to bounce ideas off of any time of the day.”
One piece of advice
“Entrepreneurship is a lifelong learning experience. Learning to write and the use of the written word has served me well in my career. It is hugely underrated in relation to business and being an entrepreneur. It’s really a critical piece.”