Unconventional Nomad was first conceived in 2018 by founder, Maddie Matthies. Born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts, Maddie dreamed of a life of travel and adventure, but not in a way most people would picture it.
In her dream, a red husky ran at her side. First, they would survive the trials of college together. Next, they would explore the mountains, desert, and country-side, and live a mobile life in an RV. Life in an RV would allow them to never be limited by hotels and they could roam and travel freely. The dream seemed close enough to touch, but the reality of getting there seemed impossible.
Her first two years of college came and went, and she had little to no hope of ever getting her trusted companion. Everyone told her she was ridiculous for wanting to get a dog in college. At the beginning of her Junior year, she threw her hands in the air and said, “fuck it all.” She was going to do it anyway.
After months of searching and submitting application after application to multiple shelters, she was turned down and was told she didn't meet the qualifications to own a husky. As she was about to give up, her mom asked her if she wanted to try a local kennel in the area, and she agreed. To everyone's surprise, including Maddie's, she went home with the puppy of her dreams that very day.
Senior year was straight out of a movie. Maddie never realized the impact a dream come true could have on her life. Nukka, the name of her loyal companion, was just the beginning of what would eventually become Unconventional Nomad.
After college, Maddie hopped around from job to job. She studied the Classics in college (Greek and Roman Civilization), and jobs were quite scarce in that department. She tried waitressing but found it overwhelming and repetitive. Next, she spent some time managing a local cafe in her hometown. That didn’t suit her either. She was left with no money, a tremendous amount of student debt resting on her shoulders, and little to no promise of adventure in her future.
She lost her way. Her hero's journey was crumbling, and she was left trying to piece together where she had gone wrong.
It was in this low state that her mother took her to a local department store to look at clothes for an upcoming job interview. She ran her hand over the rack, as she so often did, seeking the softest thing she could find. Her fingers caught on a shirt, and she plucked it off the rack- only to sigh in frustration and put it back. Another shirt ruined by excessive ruffles and unnecessary knots.
A light bulb went off in Maddie’s head at that moment, and she began to wonder what it would take to design a shirt of her very own. Just as she had once dreamed of getting Nukka, she had also had a childhood dream of creating her own clothing line. If she made one dream come true, why not another?
Determined to break out of the food industry, Maddie managed to score herself a part-time job at a local photography studio. She found that she really enjoyed the work and was happy to learn anything she could about photography.
She also took this time to do research on all things fashion. She dabbled in designing graphics for t-shirts. But after going through the process of picking out a brand of t-shirts, creating the graphics for it, and ordering her first batch - she found herself disappointed with the end result. The shirt didn’t fill her with the feeling of happiness she knew it should, and she wondered where she had gone wrong.
After many restless nights and extensive exploration into the deepest part of her consciousness, she knew the truth. She would only be happy if she was able to make a custom clothing pattern of her own design.
She wanted to create a t-shirt that she would be proud to wear herself. She also knew that she wanted to make her company as sustainable as possible and it was always a part of her plan to work closely with a non-profit. She knew nothing of pattern making herself, but her research led her to a local clothing manufacturer who aided small businesses with a vision. They would help make her dream a reality. The materials, manufacturer, even the packaging, had to be made with recycled and renewable resources. On this point, Maddie was unmoving.
There comes a day when a vision becomes more than a dream- a day when it manifests itself into the world. That’s where you come in. Our vision would be nothing without customers who create the change they want to see in the world. We share this story with you to inspire those who may be in a similar position.
Our brand was born out of rebellion, determination, risk, and intuition. We value the pause before the plunge, the thought before the leap, but we know now that making the dream a reality is just as important as the dream itself.