We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Moss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have been designing and building global brands for the past 30 years. A few years ago, I sold my advertising/branding agency and decided it was time to create my own global brand. My passion with design and branding is heavily guided by history and stories. My style definitely leans towards an authentic, vintage character. It took a few years of vetting what I wanted to build, until a friend of mine suggested something that was right under my nose – Moss Tents, my family legacy. My Father, Bill Moss, invented the “Pop-Tent” in 1956 and that revolutionized the camping and expedition industry. He and my Mother, Marilyn Moss Rockefeller started Moss Tents in 1974 based on all of my fathers tent designs – Moss quickly became the world leader in expedition tents. Long and successful story short, they sold Moss Tents to REI in the late 90s and later REI stopped the production of Moss Tents. Since then, Moss Tents have taken on an international, almost cult, following – with people collecting and using original Moss Tents. Recently my Mother wrote a beautiful coffee table book on the history of my father’s genius called “Bill Moss: Fabric Artist & Designer”. So, I decided that I would bring back to life the brand and legacy of what my parents had created. For the past three years, I have been building Moss Adventures, an experience based travel and basecamp company. I am bringing back the DNA of what Moss Tents was to the world, not through the products, but through the lifestyle of authentic adventure and self-reliance. We offer guided expeditions and full “glamping” campsites for adventure enthusiasts who want outdoor experiences that will transform their personal confidence and skillset.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My new company, Moss Adventures, is a completely new career direction for me – building the brand identity of a company is what I have been successful at for the past 30 years, but now, I have to be successful at building an adventure lifestyle company – not just the brand. The legacy of the Moss brand is out there still thanks to my parents success at building that company and its core messaging. Now, I have the equity of that brand and just need to bring it back to life! During my design career, I had several very large obstacles to overcome, but the two main ones were a disastrous fire that destroyed my entire office building in 1995. I lost everything; my library, my personal artwork from school, my father’s paintings, all of my client work files, all of my equipment along with $130k worth of embroidered sweatshirts for Houstons restaurants and $60k worth of original slides from a national photographer that had left them with me to review for a potential project. After the fire, the Phoenix design community (several large agencies) came to my aid and offered up their equipment and space for me to use to get back on track. The other large obstacle was the project I worked on for Steven Spielberg and SEGA games – GameWorks. I had a year-long contract with them to design and produce all of the retail merchandise and packaging. The deal brought me a 3 million dollar contract – however, when the year was finished, the people in charge of the project wanted me to “take a hit” on the invoice to the tune of pennies on the dollar. This process took over 9 months and during that timeframe, I owed a lot of the money to the manufactures all over the world. Long story short, my lawyer ($500) advised me not to take the offer and to tell them that if they didn’t pay in full that we would go to all media with the story that Spielberg (and co.) tried to screw the little guy. The immediately wrote me a check for my invoice and all expenses up to that point to basically walk out the door. I did learn a lot from that year as well as earned a spot on the design map for the size and caliber of that client. and that project. Now, with my new venture, I have taken all my experiences from my design career and am using those to help guide me in building this business the best way possible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them on an off-road, remote “expedition” into the deep forest of Ocala National Park. We would have my business partner, Shayne Young (world-renown overlander and Land Rover builder) guide the trip and would take several of our Moss Expedition Land Rovers on an adventure!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Absolutely my wife, Angelica has reintroduced me to my love of global travel and adventures. I grew up in and around the outdoor world of camping and travel but somewhere down the line was sidetracked by the “work” of designing brands.
Other: https://www.behance.net/mosscreative My design portfolio
https://andrewurban.com Jay Parnassa Shapiro