Third generation, born-and-raised Yukoners, brothers Myles, 26 and Tanner Hougen, 24 have begun their own journey into the Yukon entrepreneurial market.
“We’ve been raised by entrepreneurs,” Myles said.
Their last name probably looks quite familiar to most. Their grandfather started Hougen’s Department Store and throughout Whitehorse the family has a number of businesses that include both a furniture and an electronics store.
The brothers started Yukon Built, their own company on their own two feet. “We are very fortunate for the opportunities we had when we were growing up,” Myles said, “It’s a combination of growing up with a close knit family that was always supportive of everything we did, having the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures/customers/food and the opportunities that were afforded to us by growing up in the Yukon. Everything from the ability to get outside and explore what the territory has to offer to having great close friends, being a part of sports teams that have travelled and competed nationally.”
“We are proud Yukoners. We wanted something to represent us. We are unique whether you’re from here or visiting,” Myles said.
Yukon Built is a high quality apparel company that they launched in January with the apparel including t-shirts, hoodies, caps, and toques. The company has been gaining exposure predominantly through word of mouth and social media such as Instagram.
They have almost a thousand followers on Instagram, a true Yukon outdoors following with most hashtags incorporating the outdoors and active sports such as hiking or kayaking.
“We are growing slowly enough and we are lucky to showcase other people’s adventures,” Tanner said. “Last I checked we had 1,400 hashtags to Yukon Built.”
The brothers have been busy keeping up with demand and producing new products each season of their apparel line. “We actually did sell out a number of times and had to keep reordering,” Myles said. The brothers are shipping their product all over Canada and even to the United States. “There’s a brand equity to the Yukon. It can be global,” Myles said. “The lure of the Yukon – the name itself means something.”
Every item also has a personal touch. When they ship their items abroad they put hand written notes of thanks to customers to add that personal Yukon touch. In addition, the hem tags on every product are hand-sewn and, incredibly, Tanner had to learn how to do this. “At first they would come off because I had never sewn before. Now I have a new skill,” he said.
Myles and Tanner came up with the idea of doing Yukon Built over a decade ago. Seven years ago they wrote their business plan, while attending university. Myles even had a small apparel company while at university.
But like many born-and-raised Yukoners, you must leave the nest to experience the outside world. University. Work. However, eventually they come back, because – there’s no place like it on Earth.
“You either love it or hate it up here,” Myles said. “You can love it for different reasons, but there’s something special that keeps you here.”
It wasn’t until this year that they were both finally together again in their native home to start it.
Now they’re putting in overtime to make the company a success, doing 50 to 60 hour work weeks. After their day jobs, they put their time into Yukon Built.
“It’s a lot of work, but when you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t feel that way,” Tanner said.
The brothers were raised with a strong work ethic. Around their house, Christmas Day involved the usual morning wake up, present opening and visiting the grandparents – but was quickly followed by heading to their dad’s store to do price labelling in preparation for the busy Boxing Day.
“We don’t just want to be a product, but a part of the community,” Myles said. “The brand is built – pun intended – for locals, but it’s made for the world.”
Check out Myles and Tanner Hougen’s Yukon Built apparel at www.YukonBuilt.com.