At the start of their careers, brothers Tim and Dan Joo had little in common professionally besides the entrepreneurial drive inherited from their parents: Dan was working at IBM as an efficiency consultant, and Tim was lending his design skills to Opening Ceremony and Patrik Ervell. It wasn’t until the two were living together again in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that the idea of starting their own company began brewing. “It was really great because we could come home, have a drink, and just talk about our days and what we wanted to do next,” Dan recalls. Around that same time, Tim realized that his trusty Jansport backpack wasn’t really putting off the professional vibes he was looking for and started prototyping a high-end leather version, which, in the early 2000s, was pretty much impossible to find.
After a stellar reaction from a few of Tim’s fashion friends, the brothers Joo knew they had something worth pursuing, so they both quit their jobs and dove straight in, moving to Korea for a few months to prototype styles and nail down production. “We had this idea and just went for it and dedicated 100% of our time to it,” says Tim. Haerfest launched in 2011, and they’ve since added streamlined duffles and a women’s line of hardworking, dressed-up crossbodies. In 2018, they nabbed a coveted spot in the CFDA’s fashion incubator for buzzy designers—and it all started with one dusty Jansport.