“We recently sold all the furniture in the den and set up operations there,”Joe Williams III said in a jovial, casual tone, referring to the HQ for his new ultralight accessories brand, Trekker Joe’s.
The den is perhaps an upgrade ... “I did all 50 of GGG’s first order of water sleeves on my dining room table,” he said.
As a dad of four, with three who’ve moved out, Joe and along with his wife have launched into the business of making and selling groovy ultralight goodies: pouches, bear bag kits, water bottle sleeve fashioned from diver mesh, and more.
“It’s a typical story, I guess. Me and my wife have always been outdoor people, growing up camping, hiking, fishing. These evolved into lots of outdoor hobbies: skateboarding, climbing, plenty to do while time’s still here.”
With accumulating day hikes and a 100 miler on the Lone Star Hiking Trail, Joe found himself thinking about stitching together some of his own gear.
“Last year provided a stage for reflection, re-evaluating life, considering where we stood with the ‘American dream.’ Before this moment we were heading in a more corporate direction — a bit trapped by circumstance. We felt like it was time for some change.”
Trekker Joe’s began as a hobby with time-tested roots. “I’ve always been making stuff for family, friends — little gifts for people I care for.” This gift-giving spirit paired well with the DIY and MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) universe, which opened his mind up to all sorts of possibilities.
Joe’s a festive guy at heart. “I had experience sewing because I’m a Halloween guy. One year I sewed a Victorian frock as the central piece of my Edgar Allen Poe, and a feathered bodice for my wife, the raven. Making that coat was my first foray in sewing. I’m in fact still using that original machine for embroidery on current products.”
You’ll note on any Trekker Joe’s item, there’s a delicate “TJ” monogram, no two the exact same. He saves this sophisticated production step for his cherished vintage machinery.
“My biggest challenge has been social media. I have an obligatory Facebook page, but I don’t really post a lot. Exposure has been a big hurdle in general, and we’re doing everything without any business loans,” Joe said.
Built into every purchase from Trekker Joe’s is a 1% revenue donation to the local Great Springs Project in Texas, which works towards preserving four natural springs from his home in Spicewood down to San Antonio.
When Joe’s on the trail, he admits to packing a bit of comfort. “I prefer a nicer pillow rather than an inflatable one,” he said.
As the business grows, Joe and his wife would like to make like nomads, keeping their eyes on vintage auto trades for an old Crown coach to reconfigure from the ground up. “Ideally we find an 8.3 Cummins/Allison transmission.”
Whatever they decide on, rest assured the gear coming out the door will be reliably woven and emblazoned with two little letters at the top, “TJ.”