If you train BJJ you must have heard of Shoyoroll, the BJJ streetwear and gi company that sponsors some of today's biggest stars. Not everyone knows the humble beginnings of SYR and its founder, Bear Quitugua.
“It wasn't long ago that fashion and martial arts got mixed up. The traditional fighters uniform, the gi, was used to show technique and skill. Quitugua sought to change that perception more than 15 years ago.
He is the founder of Shoyoroll, a company from humble origins that recently blew up the martial arts world, and grew to a status of worldwide recognition. Quitugua, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, is also a formidable businessman in the mixed martial arts and BJJ communities.
Born in California but raised in Guam, Quitugua founded Shoyoroll, a premium wrestling apparel company specializing in limited edition chalk.
Clean designs, contrast stitching, and slim cuts make the brand one of the most popular on the market. Inspired by his love of surfing, skateboarding and grappling, he created the electric yellow Shoyoroll logo, visible at major US competitions.
“10 years ago, we only saw some of the chalk that was used in competitions, and it was only fighters that we knew. Then the following year, we saw some more and realized that it was not just the people we gave the chalk to, "says Quitigua. "That was super cool to see."
The million dollar company appears to be an overnight success, but the brand's roots originate on a small island in the Pacific. Bear started with a handful of hats and T-shirts, created inside a small garage in Guam.
"I was just a creative kid trying to do something that I thought would be cool," says Quitugua.
He remembers at the Jiu Jitsu No Gi World Championship held in Long Beach, California. He barely 6 years ago. A crowd waited for the door to open, eager to watch the fights from the first bjj tournament of the year. But instead of filling the stands surrounding the tatami at Walter's pyramid, more than a hundred people packed the Budo Videos sales booth. Each had hoped to buy the collectible Shoyoroll gi called "Charles Lew", but only 50 were for sale.
Budo Videos, one of the leading online martial arts retailers, first published Shoyoroll gis in 2009, after agreeing to be the exclusive retailer for North America. President Dave Contreras clearly remembers the initial public response: “They sat in our warehouse. No one was really buying, ”he says. Now, they sell out in minutes. Thousands of people around the world eagerly await the time when the limited edition chalk goes on sale. Once the web is opened, only a small percentage of shoppers are lucky, surviving sites are blocked, and thousands of other online shoppers want the same thing at the same time.
“They brought something really unique to the market by changing the look at the time. The other gi brands had been making the same chalk for years, ”says Budo Videos CEO Jake McKee. Quitugua always reserves some for its distributor and friend from Guam, Wayne Matanane, but still, not everyone gets one. "When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you roll well," says jiu jitsu black belt John Calvo, who supported the brand in its early days.
Top fighters Jon Cruz Tuck, BJ Penn and Benson Henderson wear the brand with pride as well. RVCA clothing brand founder Pat Tenore simply says, "Shoyoroll rules." All the success that Quitugua enjoys did not come without suffering. “People think that the brand suddenly became popular. They don't know the back story, all the work that was done and all the struggles we went through, ”he says. The founder of a million dollar company today talks about his childhood home in Ordot, made with wooden walls and a leaky tarp. Rainy day puddles were normal, and typhoon warnings sent his family to a safer structure. His family didn't have much, so they safeguarded what they had. "Our house was not concrete like the other houses, so if a typhoon hit it, we would lose everything," he says. Those days left him yearning for a better life and hungry for a solution.
“I told myself that I wanted to become a millionaire when I was 30 years old. When I was 5 years old, I told my dad that I wanted to be an engineer, ”he says. "He told me, 'Well, they make a lot of money.' He fell into a rut on the road, caught up in an aimless lifestyle. He said too many Guam youth are hooked too, and sadly some will never get out. «Depending on your circle of friends, you can get stuck, use the wrong people as role models