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meet matt abbott, nativ founder/owner

Posted on 30 August 2016

~ biological beginnings ~

matt abbott wandered his way into the apparel business. in fact, we call him the original wanderer around the office. after obtaining his undergraduate degree in biology from the university of arkansas, matt, an avid lover of being in and studying the natural environment, enrolled in a master’s program for freshwater ecology. two years into the program, matt was ready to do something else though he wasn’t quite sure what that “something else” was yet. 

~ the road trip that started it all ~

matt has always been called to the adventure of unknown places and simple living. this call was answered when he decided to quit his job, sell most everything he owned, pack the rest in his subaru, and set out on the journey that would become the inspiration for the nativ brand. his travels took him from his nativ arkansas north to acadia, then slowly zigzagged west through the aderondaks, black hills, badlands, tetons, sawtooths, and cascades until he reached the shores of the pacific. the long road home found extended stays in oregon, california, colorado, utah, arizona and new mexico with plenty of stops along the way — never using interstates, only back roads, and sleeping under the stars in a tent each night. each morning he would pull out the map and decide where to wander that day. this taste of true freedom with no particular destination was the inspiration for the "wander far" nativ philosophy. upon arriving back 

throughout matt’s journey, he was inspired by real people and real places and gained a true appreciation for what our world had to offer. he also learned that living nativ doesn’t just mean where you’re from; it’s where you are. it’s experiencing a transformation as these places become a part of who you are.

~ wandering into entrepreneurialism ~

in 2007, near the end of his road trip, he got a call from a friend asking if he wanted to start a restaurant in little rock. why not? matt thought. so he returned to little rock and learned what it took to create and build a business.

while matt was working and operating the restaurant, he was also designing and hand screen-printing t-shirts out of the garage apartment where he was living. his designs centered around his home state of arkansas and reflected the love and pride that he had for home, despite his frequent travels around the country. his first batch of shirts totaled four and he gave them all away easily, with requests for more. during his free time, matt sold his shirts out of his subaru outback at street fairs, farmers markets, and music festivals.

~ nativ begins ~

when the t-shirt business started growing, matt realized it was time to make a decision: focus on the restaurant or focus on the t-shirts. he chose t-shirts and set out to grow the company at his own pace, not taking on any investors or bank loans. in 2010, matt’s longtime friend brett tucker came on as a co-owner and the two have steadily grown the business since then, each year moving to a larger location to accommodate the growth.

~ on the personal side ~

matt lives in little rock with his wife betsy, daughter amelia, son bo and dog waylon.

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