Lifestyle First: FairEnds

By Zak Bush | February 1
"We’re not about trends; we’re not about chasing the next best thing. Our happiness as people is more important than the happiness of the brand." - Ben Ferencz

Born in 2011, FairEnds is a hat company built on the idea of keeping it simple, soulful, and void of BS. The founders, Ben Ferencz and Martin Carvajal, exude this. They’re not on the sell, sell, sell tip; they’re refreshingly understated and practical. Keeping a high standard of integrity has served them well. They’ve collaborated with a large number of excellent brands, most recently Outerknown. I caught up via phone with Ben, who lives just outside of Missoula, Montana.

Jamie Brisick: How did FairEnds come about?

Ben Ferencz: I had a custom bicycle company prior to starting FairEnds, and Martin was working at a men’s clothing store doing creative direction and production. Our two brands got together and we made a run of custom bicycles. Martin and I were running the production of the collaboration. We became fast friends. We were looking for something to do together and looking for ways to have more fun, with him being in New York and me being in Montana. So as we were building this bicycle brand we were also making accessories, and out of that came the ball caps. People beyond just the bike shops were buying our ball caps. One of those shops was Jack Spade; they were doing a project with Coca-Cola for their 125th anniversary. Right as we closed Freeman Transport, which was the bicycle company, we launched FairEnds to provide hats for Jack Spade for the project. That was how we launched, that was how Martin and I met each other. We’ve been great friends ever since, yet we’ve never shared an office.

Cross country collaboration. Martin on the right in NYC, Ben on the left in Montana.

JB: Is there a brand ethos that you adhere to?

BF: We’re not about trends; we’re not about chasing the next best thing. Our happiness as people is more important than the happiness of the brand. We’ve put our own lifestyles ahead of everything. That’s not to say that we’re lazy or that we’re not wanting to give it our all because obviously we do, we just do it in our own way. So the brand evolves based on that. Most people run their businesses differently. They sort of drive it until it can’t move anymore. Our brand moves according to how we’re moving as people. We don’t have an ideal size or number of employees or even a monetary goal that we’re chasing. What we’re trying to do is make something people like, that they want and enjoy, but we never lose sight that we’re selling a ball cap. We don’t perceive them as anything more than they are.

Ben and the reflection of work/life balance.

"What we’re trying to do is make something people like, that they want and enjoy, but we never lose sight that we’re selling a ball cap." - Ben Ferencz

Martin in the standard close quarters of NYC. 

JB: Talk to me about the importance of working ethically, responsibly.

BF: Yeah, we feel very strongly about supporting people. It’s been very important for us to work with factories that have good people at the top and at the bottom, and that everyone is treated fairly. We put quality over everything we do, and that includes our manufacturing as well.

JB: What’s been the most rewarding part of doing FairEnds?

BF: For me, it’s been meeting all these amazing people. I’m inspired by the people I’m fortunate enough to work with, and I learn from them.

JB: Tell me about the collaboration with Outerknown.

BF: Martin and I met John Moore right at the time he was launching Outerknown. We had an amazing time talking about fabrics, hats, life. We stayed in touch. Then last fall we started this collaboration. We have a ton of respect for Outerknown. They inspire us daily.

Jamie Brisick is a writer, photographer, and director. He surfed on the ASP world tour from 1986 to 1991. He has since documented surf culture extensively. His books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, Roman & Williams: Things We Made, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New York Times, and The Guardian. He was the editor of Surfing magazine from 1998-2000, and is presently the global editor of Huck. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles. For more of his work check out jamiebrisick.com & @jamiebrisick