The Made In America Team sports Vast Terrain activewear every day. Order your new American Made gear at VastTerrain.com
Carrieann Banacki-Gillert left her teaching job to pursue a job in the manufacturing business. Together, Carrieann and her husband Carl created Vast Terrain, a premium activewear brand that stands out from the rest. Vast Terrain’s products are sourced and made in the U.S., but are still reasonably priced to compete with companies that import.
In this conversation, Carrieann and Carl discuss their vision for Vast Terrain and how they stand out from competitors.
Made in America: Carrieann, what is your professional background?
Carrieann: I have a masters in art education, so I was an art teacher. I wanted to change things up and decided I wanted to be in manufacturing, but I wasn’t sure what. Carl and I were looking at things we liked to do, like running and mountaineering and hiking, and we just decided that we would design clothes. We simply couldn’t find premium and technical activewear that was made in the USA at an affordable price and decided to pursue this niche market.
Made in America: And Carl, how about you?
Carl: I’m in finance and work full time for a private equity backed technology company. I work more on the technology and operations side of the business while Carrieann manages design and marketing.
Made in America: So, this year you officially launched?
Carl: Yeah, it’s taken a few years but we officially launched at the beginning of the year.
Made in America: So Carrieann, why did you shift gears from teaching to manufacturing?
Carrieann: I had been teaching for quite some time and I wanted to switch gears. Carl and I always wanted to travel places and Vast Terrain has provided a good opportunity to travel the U.S. visiting our factory partners and managing our product photo shoots.
Made in America: Are you still in Florida?
Carl: Yes, we’re in Tampa.
Made in America: No way, I am too. [both laugh] So is your warehouse in Tampa as well?
Carl: Yes, but our materials and factory partners are all over the U.S.
Made in America: Tell me a little about your sourcing. How has it been finding locally owned fabrics?
Carrieann: It took about 3 years to get everything together. We started off looking in North Carolina for fibers and yarn that were new to the market, and then we had to find someone to help us to develop them for us into the proprietary technical fabrics we use to make our activewear. Our fabrics ultimately gets sent to the San Francisco area where they are cut and sewn into premium activewear. We had to do a lot of research and I went to some trade shows with activewear. We also lived in Luxembourg for a year for Carl’s job and we went to a couple fabric shows over there. So, we brought back things we liked from other countries to see how we could make our fabric. We wanted to make everything in the U.S.
Carl: And what we found is that a lot of brands that are made in the USA don’t use domestic fabric. Their fabrics are imported because they have lower minimum and cheaper prices. Not only do we use US sourced fabric, all of our fabrics are proprietary to Vast Terrain. So overall, our materials are 97 percent made in the U.S. There were a couple small things that we could not find in the U.S. anywhere.
Made in America: Do you have a video or commercial yet that displays the technology that the material has?
Carrieann: We have a section on our site labelled “fabric technology”, where you can read about each of our fabrics and what is in them, and then you can click on a certain product and get more information about the fabrics in it and its true cost. We are 100 percent transparent and we actually show you the factory that we use and the inside of it, so we pride ourselves in that.
Made in America: I saw that a shirt runs for about 50 dollars, which is pretty incredible for a product that’s made in America to be similarly priced or even cheaper than companies that import their products. This fabric is your own proprietary?
Carl: Yes. It’s called Argentum which means silver in Latin. We use yarn that has silver salt technology that is embedded at the micro level, so they’ll never wash out. Some companies treat their products afterwards with anti-odor as a topical, but because ours is at the fiber level it’ll never come out. When we first got the shirts, I wore one running for six days straight and air dried it each day and it never retained any odor. They wash beautifully and it’s our best fabric that we have. Our Argentum fabric has been tested at an independent laboratory and performs better than all the leading competitors at controlling odor.
Made in America: Are you marketing only directly to consumer?
Made in America: Are you using social media and other tools?
Carrieann: Yeah, we have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. We work with micro influencers to get more products out and we were working with a firm but we decided that we could do it ourselves and we’ve been happy with our results.
Made in America: Do you think this will be a successful long-term business?
Carl: We’re starting to gain traction. I think if you look at some of the other brands that are made in the USA, I think we’re proprietary enough that we’re starting to gain traction. Right now, it’s really up to ad and PR. You know, we’re not going to be Lululemon tomorrow but we will be something in a few years.