Plenty of people run for donations. With Janji, you get to wear one.
Janji is a departure from traditional running-based charities. Instead of raising money through races or pledges, Janji allows athletes to purchase running apparel whose proceeds help give water or food to people in underdeveloped countries.
Janji was established in 2010 as the brainchild of collegiate runners Dave Spandorfer and Mike Burnstein, after they realized that athletic gear had unmined potential as an opportunity for runners to give. It has since grown into a successful charity, appearing in specialty stores nationwide.
After Janji reached out to Fleet Feet Davis, the store jumped on board.
“(Our reaction was) ‘Of course it’s gonna work; people will understand and see what it is and want to support it,” apparel buyer Carol Owen said.
Fleet Feet quickly ordered Janji’s running shorts, and plans to sell them starting this month.
Each article of clothing incorporates a symbol from the country to which a portion of the item’s proceeds will be donated. For instance, a pair of shorts featuring the national colors and bird of Haiti will help give “eight packets of nutritional medicine to a severely malnourished Haitian child,” according to the Janji product catalog.
In addition to the central charity, “it’s cool-looking stuff,” according to Fleet Feet co-owner Chris Denton. The shorts also fulfill the “technical” requirement for serious runners, meaning sweat evaporates more quickly and chafes less than with regular fabric.
Janji is also the newest addition to Fleet Feet’s long history of community outreach.
Along with canned food drives, the Waffle Run and the famous Turkey Trot, Janji “fits with the whole idea of giving back that Fleet Feet really stands for,” according to Owen.
“We really love doing things for the community, and so this kind of takes it to another level,” Denton said. “We’ve never been able to buy or sell apparel that’s had such a mission behind it.”
Fleet Feet hopes the attractive and functional nature of the Janji products will dovetail with their clientele’s inclination to give.
“When you tell people the story about it, they realize their money can multi-task,” Denton said. “They can spend the money and wear some cool stuff and also know that it’s going to these great projects in different places in the world. People like that, especially runners.”
Fleet Feet is also banking on runners’ traditional affinity for charitable causes to make Janji’s running shorts a popular item.
“(Runners) love to donate their time, they love to make money for charitable organizations,” Denton said. “Let’s not just run a race for charity, let’s wear some clothes for charity, too.”
Added Owen, “You need some new running shorts, why not get some that benefit somebody in the long run?”
Ultimately, Owen thinks buying Janji products will be a “no-brainer” for local customers.
“The people who live in Davis are very aware that we’re much more fortunate than a lot of people, and there’s a lot we can do to give,” Owen said. “That’s why we wanted to give them a try.”
“It really is a great fit for us, because our clientele here are very civic-minded,” Denton said. “They love it when they’re buying into something that’s greater than themselves.”
For more about the clothing line, visit www.runjanji.com.
— Reach Anna Sturla at [email protected]