For such a low-tech activity compared to sports that require expensive gear, we runners sure can find ways to part with our cash if it makes our daily run a little easier. Functionality is key. Many of us award bonus points if it’s fashionable as well. And affordability? If a product has all three of those attributes, it’s like finding the Holy Grail.
Turns out a holy grail of athletic accessories may exist right here in Fresno. A local runner, Farin Montanez, has been making and selling her own line of athletic buffs and selling them under the name Gazelle Gear.
Many of us may be most familiar with the term “buff” from the television show Survivor. On the reality competition, the multifunctional headwear is used to the identify “tribes” as well as protect players from the elements. A buff is essentially a tube of fabric that can be worn in a variety of ways: a headband, a balaclava, a neck gaiter, a hood, and a wristband are just a few of the many ways users can customize it for their needs. In extremely cold temperatures it can keep the face and ears warm; in the heat it can help protect against sunburn or act as a sweatband. It can even be worn over the mouth and nose to protect against dirt and dust inhalation on dry and dusty trails.
Montanez says she was inspired to create her own buffs after purchasing one. “I wanted to purchase more for the winter to cover my face, head, and ears when I run but I didn’t want to pay $20 for just one,” she says. “I thought I could probably make it. I looked online and found a how-to on Pinterest.”
That was just the beginning. Soon, her friends were asking her if she would make buffs for them as well. Montanez quickly realized that she could use this as an opportunity to earn some extra money—at the time, she was trying to raise funds for a trip to Boston to run the Boston Marathon.
Montanez decided to call her new business Gazelle Gear, a nod to the nickname (“Gazelle”) given to her by her running friends. She began selling her buffs—made of a rayon/polyester/spandex blend and available in two sizes, the Finite (a half buff) and the Myriad (a full buff)—out of her car before morning workouts with her running club, the Wicked Fast Wascally Wunnahs. She also sells them via her Facebook page, and has a small selection available for sale at Fleet Feet Sports Fresno. At $8 for the Myriad (or two for $15) and $5 for the Finite, they are far more affordable than similar name brand products sold online and in major chain retailers.
Everything is made by hand, in her home. Sometimes it’s a group effort. “I’ve gotten a lot of help from running buddies,” she says. “They’ll come over for an hour or two and we’ll have wine and snacks. I couldn’t have done it without help.”
Most of Gazelle Gear’s sales come through word of mouth. Through Facebook, she has made sales to old friends from all over the country and even overseas. An acquaintance from Nevada, whom she met at a trail race, ordered a few, which resulted in some bulk orders from running companies in that area.
“Business was really good when we started because of the fundraiser for Boston. I think a lot of people wanted to help,” says Montanez. Since the Boston Marathon in April, she says, she hasn’t had very much time to promote Gazelle Gear—in addition to her full-time job as a copy editor with the Madera Tribune, she has two young children.
While she doesn’t have plans to grow the business in a significant way in the near future, she still sells her Gazelle Gear via her Facebook page and occasionally at local running events.
Gazelle Gear can be ordered via messaging Farin Montanez through her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GazelleGear). The buffs are available in a variety of colors and patterns and can be customized using a heat transfer process for an additional $2 fee. For more information about the many ways to wear Gazelle Gear buffs, you can visit her website at www.gazelle-gear.com.
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