A trip on Spain’s to-do list turned into a clothing label for a Preston man

When Jonathan graduated from college in 2013, he wasn’t sure what the future held for him, but he wanted to pursue his passion for travel. So he moved to Malaga and started working in hostels, but it was when he was told about a famous walk that his life changed forever.

In March 2014, Jonathan Simpson from Penwortham decided to hike the Camino De Santiago after being recommended by several hostel locals during his stay in Malaga. He was intrigued from the start and after saving several hundred euros, he decided to try it for himself.

It was from this walk that the idea for her clothing brand, That Life, was born.

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The Camino De Santiago is an extensive network of ancient pilgrimage routes, stretching across Europe and meeting at the tomb of Saint James, or Santiago, in northwestern Spain. “The first day in France was by far the hardest – our hostel owner told us not to cross the Pyrenees because of the amount of snow, but we ended up taking the wrong path,” explained Jonathan .

“My friend and I were waist deep in the snow and I actually thought we were going to die up there. We were also on the sides of a cliff and ran out of food and water around noon, so we had to eat snow to hydrate – it was gnarly.

Jonathan at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela after completing the walk

“The rest of the walk was amazing, we walked pretty much all over northern Spain, we stayed in churches and met some amazing people. It took 32 days in total and there was no not many people, so there was a lot of thinking time to be had and that’s when I wondered what I should do with my life and whether or not I should use my degree.

“Ultimately I decided I was happiest when I was traveling and my ultimate dream would be to own my own clothing brand, I’ve always loved Ed Harvey style clothing and wanted my own range which reflects that kind of style. So a few months later I wrote a business plan and chose the name ‘This Life’ because that’s the life I want to live.”

Jonathan and his friend Ed during a peak at one of the peaks of the Pyrenees mountains
Jonathan and his friend Ed during a peak at one of the peaks of the Pyrenees mountains

A year later, after his life-changing walk, Jonathan decided to move to Australia and New Zealand, pursuing his love for travel and experiencing new cultures. However, that meant her clothing brand had to take a step back.

He continued: “I did all the farm work in Australia and worked on an awful farm in New Zealand – I literally had cows peeing on me, it was disgusting. However, after that, I worked for a company and had the opportunity to learn screen printing and jump at the chance.

“So I printed a few t-shirts and started selling them at a local store – it was really fun to watch my little brand grow and work on my hobby a bit more. In March 2020 , I went back to the UK for a bachelor party but then the pandemic started and the borders closed so I was stuck and couldn’t get back to Australia.

“That’s when I decided to really work on my brand and take the opportunity to live with my parents and save some money to give it a real boost. J started printing on demand and launched properly in August of that year.”

Jonathan then saw his business grow more and more and moved his printing equipment to a friend who offered his space. This allowed her to have more creative autonomy over her clothes, giving her brand a personal touch.

Let us know your thoughts on Jonathan’s clothing brand journey in the comments below.

That Life is based on Jonathan’s love of tattoo culture and uses world-class artists to create the clothing brand’s designs. To date, Jonathan is the company’s only employee, but he is preparing to pitch to any investors who might be interested in helping That Life grow into a bigger business.

Some of the Fishergate Mall products
Some of the Fishergate Mall products

He continued: “I do a few pop-ups – I sell some of my clothes at the Fishergate shopping center in Preston for three or four days a month. My mum comes and helps me when I do that because she loves talking to people and she’s so proud of what I do.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and I really appreciate that I can live my dream working on my brand. It definitely lives up to expectations and I really believe it will go worldwide.

“I just want to promote good vibes and success by creating the best possible product. I’m a big believer in good customer service and if anything goes wrong I blame myself so there’s no never make excuses.”

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