Our Ruff Road to Get Here

To pursue the path towards becoming our most vibrant selves,

To be unafraid to live the life of our daydreams,

To embrace those whose road has been less kindly paved.

Jess and Moxie crouch on a boulder above Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (sketch by CAZ Leja)

Our road led us to Africa where we met as aid workers. It led us to pack our motorcycles and ride south. What we discovered there was paradise in a small home on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in Central America and a puppy who would change our lives forever.

BMW F700GS and BMW G650GS in Quiché Department, Guatemala
Greg and Jess ride their BMW adventure motorcycles south to Guatemala

After several months of exploring this stunning land of forested mountains, deserts, and turquoise waters, we adopted German Shepherd Moxie as a nine-week-old puppy.

German Shepherd puppy Moxie in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
Brand new Mama Bear Jess glows with pleasure as she holds nine-week-old puppy Moxie

As the days passed and awkward puppy Moxie blossomed into a regal shepherdess, we faced a daunting problem. We just couldn’t find dog apparel to fetchingly attire our beastie princess and yet rugged enough for our wilderness excursions. The options we found were either one or the other but not both. As Jess stated the problem at the time:

“Everywhere we go there are wildflowers and the only collars tough enough look like seatbelts! What we need is Vera Wang meets The North Face – but with color and character, you know?”

That’s when we suddenly realized that we were surrounded by indigenous markets teaming with vibrant textiles. Surely someone has thought to make dog apparel, we figured, and in fact there were leashes and collars on offer.

Osprey backpack and German Shepherd on Atitlan Volcano, Guatemala
Pack mule Jess and her guiding shepherdess trek up the rocky face of Atitlan Volcano

Unfortunately, these were made of used scraps and backed on cheap leather. We were discouraged by the unnecessary use of livestock and by materials that would be no match for the elements, nor even for the gentlest of beasties – which our Moxie is most certainly not!

“Why not make your own?” Greg’s dad suggested during a visit. Yeah, we thought, Why not?

So, with ‘why not’ echoing in our ears – that most fateful phrase that’s launched a thousand harebrained endeavors – we set to work, determined to bring to life Jess’s idea for dog apparel that’s runway ready and built for the outdoors!

We met with artisans, weavers, and tailors, and we studied how traditional techniques could be fortified with modern materials. We resolved to accept no compromise between brilliantly colorful, waterproof and colorfast, and built as rugged as the best outdoor and motorcycle gear.

And, you know what? It only took dozens upon dozens of prototypes until we were satisfied but eventually the first product collections were finally ready for launch!

woven típico ribbon on telar de cintura back strap loom
Hands that weave threads of sunlight

During those early days we also discovered something completely unexpected. Partnering with artisan women born into less fortunate circumstances was far more empowering and transformative than anything we had achieved as aid workers.

motorcycle travelers with indigenous Guatemalan artisans
Left to right: Sebastiana, Jess, Yolanda, Greg, and Maricela

Our road led us to Africa and then to Guatemala; it challenged us to be relentless in pursuit of something better for our pup, and to believe that others share the values and vision that became Ruff on the Road.

It’s about stepping outside, getting your paws dirty, and discovering the most vibrant, colorful version of yourself.

German Shepherd runs through Guatemala mountains
The essence of Ruff on the Road

It’s about pursuing your inspiration – wherever it leads you – through the hardships and snags, resolving to put one paw in front of the other so long as you can. Because the colors you wear reflect the calling that drives you and the materials mark the grit to see it through.

It’s the inspiration to be the You that dares to follow your own RoadRuff enough to stick with it – and let your paws take you there!