As an ex-pro soccer player, a triathlete and a marathon runner, Keith Nowak had some seriously high standards of his athletic wear. That’s why he launched his own men’s line called Ten Thousand. So what does an athlete-entrepreneur’s morning routine look like? Read our Q&A with Keith below.
We heard you’re a triathlete and you played pro soccer. How’d that lead to launching your own business?
Sport and fitness has always been a very big part of my life. Basically if I wasn’t in school I was kicking a ball somewhere. I pursued a chance to play soccer professionally in Italy after high school. I played one year in the Italian third division which was an incredible experience.
I’ve been finding more ways to push and challenge myself since. Half marathons led me to marathons which led me to Ironman triathlons. The season is a long grind and the racing is very hard, but there’s no greater feeling than crossing a finish after 140.6 miles of swimming, biking, and running.
I started Ten Thousand because I couldn’t find the gear that I wanted as an athlete and the business has been driven by those insights and instincts. It’s awesome to be able to work on something that is so closely connected to my life.
Which item in the Ten Thousand line are you most proud of?
We launched with a shirt and pair of shorts as the first step in our vision of brining an approach of less but better to our market.
I personally sourced all fabrics by getting hundreds of fabric swatches into our tiny apartment and used my gut as an athlete to determine what would work well. We prototyped dozens of fabrics and wore them in every workout we did to see how they performed.
I’d say the Foundation Shorts are really incredible. The fabric for our shirt is better than anything I’ve ever worn previously but with our shorts we took a lot of risks in design, manufacturing, and material and it’s been so awesome to see it all come together in a product that people really love.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
I train 7 days a week and mostly in the morning so I typically wake up around 5:30. I tend to wake up and be in the pool, on the bike or running within 10-15 mins of getting out of bed so my routine is pretty simple – wake up, put on clothes, get out the door.
What gets you gym-to-office ready after your morning training?
During the week I am always rushing to get back from my workout and get to work so my post-workout routine is a quick shower with Jack Black All Over Wash and Malin & Goetz Grapefruit Cleanser and then a bit of Port Products Balancing Daily Moisturizer and Buckler’s Chapped Lip Remedy (the wind from biking and chlorine from the pool really dries out my skin). I like to keep things simple because I spend a lot of time showering at the gym post workout so small and portable is key.