Growing up in Boston, you learn first-hand that running is a big deal.
Marathon Monday is a city-wide holiday. At sunrise and sunset, thousands of runners traipse along the Charles. Time is told by the footprints of runners in the dirt and sand and snow along the rivers, parks, trails, and reservoirs of the city. New Balance, Saucony, Reebok, and Puma all call Boston home. If America has a running capital, our money’s on it being Boston.
And that is why I decided to return to my hometown, and to bring Janji with me. I launched Janji, a running apparel brand dedicated to supporting clean water around the globe, as an undergrad in St. Louis, which isn’t exactly a running epicenter. We thought about Portland (Nike!) and Boulder (mountains!), but Boston was the best and only option that made sense for us. If you can make it as a running company in Boston, you can make it anywhere.
One of the first things I did after moving to Boston in May 2012 was to go for a run along the Charles River with my co-founder, Dave. To neither of our surprise, we were the only ones we saw wearing Janji. As a company, our goal was to address one of the biggest problems facing our planet today. But more selfishly, we also longed to spot like-minded runners wearing our gear around town, and to know we were making a difference in Boston and around the world. We knew we had a lot of work to do to make that happen.
From day one, we knew the best way to realize the dream of bringing Bostonians along with us on our mission was to partner with City Sports, Boston’s preeminent athletic apparel destination. When I joined the Brookline High School cross country team as a freshman in high school, the first thing my mom did was take me to City Sports to buy running shoes and running gear. City Sports is a Boston institution: if you run, if you want the best selection of running apparel in Boston, you go to City Sports.
And in Spring 2014, we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to partner with Boston’s go-to spot for everything running. Launching first at the Harvard Square store, we’re now sold in four of the best City Sports locations across the East Coast. And since this partnership began, we’ve organized group runs, worked Boston Marathon expos, and run in-store demonstrations together. We’ve tabled on the Charles River and we’ve explored the city on scavenger hunts across town.
We’ve sold many different styles and together, Janji and City Sports have given local runners gear that stands for something bigger themselves and their training. We absolutely couldn’t have asked for a better partner—especially from a local company in our own backyard.
Two weeks ago, on a cool summer day, I went for a run along the Charles River. I had suffered from a hamstring injury and hadn’t been out for a run in a few months. The second I got off the Mass Ave bridge and stepped onto the river I saw someone wearing Janji’s men’s Kenya shirt. As I got closer to the BU Bridge, a saw another runner wearing our Haiti shorts. The experience of seeing our product throughout our city—and the impact that comes with it—would not be possible without our amazing partnership with City Sports.
Mike Burnstein is the founder of Janji- a new running brand dedicated to opening access to clean water around the globe. Mike’s passion for running started as a high school student at Brookline High where he was part of the 2007 Mass State Championship Cross Country Team, and continued at Washington University in Saint Louis where he started Janji with teammate and friend Dave Spandorfer. He currently lives in Cambridge and can frequently be found running along the Charles River.