Q + A with BANDITS



After working ten years in the corporate world, Connor audaciously quit his job and relocated to Bali, Indonesia with his wife and dog, hoping to begin a new life of adventure. He spent his days motorbiking around the island, capturing photos of volcanoes, and visiting terraced rice fields, all the while wearing old, tattered bandanas. When Connor realized there weren’t any quality bandanas on the market, he decided to create BANDITS. Today, BANDITS allows each bandana artist to support the charity they’re passionate about to tell a deeper, more personal story with each design.

Why did you choose the specific industry your brand is in?

I loved the way that bandana made me feel. I loved the confidence, the freedom, and the outlaw attitude my bandana personified. I loved that bandana, but as I reached up to re-tie it around my face for the ride, the fraying fabric (and the smell) told me it was time for a new one. What I didn’t love was when I started looking around for bandanas to buy and realized how BORING they all were! Low quality scratchy cotton, played-out patterns, and way too much paisley. I asked my friends back home if they knew of a good bandana brand I could order from online. When none of them could name one, my mission became clear.  

I was going build a BETTER bandana – a bandana with designs no one had ever seen before, a bandana that could help to make a difference in the world, and a bandana that felt softer and more durable than anything else on the market. 

What does your typical work day look like? 

One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur is that there actually aren’t many “typical” days. Between selling at markets, presenting at trade shows, pitching new vendors, visiting suppliers in India and Bali, and planning for new collections, each day brings new challenges that let me use completely different skills and parts of my brain. Over the past 2 years, I’ve barely even stayed in one place for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, which I think goes a long way in keeping me mentally sharp and always open to new ideas.  

 No matter where I am though, my day usually starts around 6:30 am with a 15-minute meditation, stretching, and gratitude (using the 5-minute Journal, which I would absolutely recommend to any entrepreneur), followed by a big cup of coffee. Then it’s on to packing orders, responding to emails, and making breakfast if I can. After breakfast, its on to whatever project is at the top of my to-do list – right now I’m spending most of my time prepping for the release of the “Summer Series” - a collection of 4 new designs, artists, and charities dropping in July.

 I always try to break up my work with some kind of athletic activity. It might be yoga, hiking, running, a workout, or just a long walk with my dog Bodie, but for me, it’s really important to take some time each day to get my blood moving and clear my head. At the end of the day, my wife and I like to make dinner together, share our entrepreneurial ups and downs, and unwind (usually by planning our next road trip or overseas adventure).  Before bed, I prep my to-do list for the next day and try to get ready for whatever tomorrow has in store.   

What’s the most important thing you attribute to your success?  

Being picky. I started BANDITS with the idea that our customers deserve the absolute best bandana on the market, and throghout the process of building the brand I’ve never ever settled for “good enough.”  I’ve probably driven my suppliers and manufacturers crazy, but I won’t approve anything for production that isn’t of the highest possible quality. I spent the better part of the first year of the company sampling, re-sampling, and eventually moving the production process from Indonesia to India. I did this all with the goal of making BANDITS better for our customers, better for the planet, and better for all of the incredible people that make them. I know that this dedication comes through in the end product, and is a big reason that our customers love BANDITS. 

You only fail when you give up. If you haven’t given up, you haven’t failed.

Your biggest inspiration? 

 My wife, Nicole. She’s the one who convinced me to move to Bali, made me belive that BANDITS could be a real business, and taught me to embrace the unknown. Without her adventurous spirit and encouragement, I’d probably still be stuck behind a desk dreaming of my escape. 

Favorite “Get Sh*t done” Song?  

It honestly changes depending on what sh*t I’m trying to get done, and it ranges from classical to country. If I had to pick one though, it would be “F*ck Up Some Commas” by Future – it’s the one song never fails to get me moving and pumped up to take on the day. 

Do It. Take the Leap. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be scary, and you will definitely have days when you want to give up - don’t. 

Dream Brand Collab? 

Working with the Stance Socks brand in some capacity has been a dream for a while. I modeled a lot of the business aspects of BANDITS after Stance, and the way they’ve elevated an overlooked accessory to the level of high-concept art has definitely inspired me. 

 Specifically, I’d love to create a unique, limited-edition collection of artist-designed socks + bandanas that could generate money and awareness to address the issue of ocean plastic pollution. It would be even cooler if we could somehow weave in fibers made from recycled ocean plastic. Having started the brand in Bali, I’ve seen the devastating effects of plastic pollution first hand. I think it’s problem that needs all of the attention, funding, and brainpower it can get.  So Stance if you’re reading this – Let’s make this happen!

Hannah LeeComment