A Talk with Origin…. Pete Roberts, Dedeco, and Jocko

7 min read
Read how an American made Jiu-Jitsu dream become reality through tireless dedication and the willingness never give up

A Talk with Origin…. Pete Roberts, Dedeco, and Jocko

Read how an American made Jiu-Jitsu dream become reality through tireless dedication and the willingness never give up

Location: Boston, MA

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Photo by: Duncan Graham

What was your “Why” with Origin USA?….

“Because everyone said it couldn’t be done.” – Pete Roberts, Co-founder of Origin USA

André Almeida “Dedeco,” thought starting a manufacturing company in the U.S. was insane at first. 

Pete Roberts, a friend of Dedeco, is the current President of Origin USA, Origin Labs, BJJ Weekly, and a partner in Jocko Industries. He wanted to start a manufacturing company in his backyard because he had aspirations to re-invent the American manufacturing industry.

 This was a risk he was willing to take. 

 “You can’t make…. you can’t make Gi’s in America,” Roberts said. “Manufacturing is dead.” 

 But as crazy as it sounded, Dedeco went along with it.

Dedeco is the co-founder of Origin USA, an American-made Gi and apparel company set on developing Gis for people of all ages. 

Dedeco was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and studied different forms of martial arts during his time there. He’s a 6th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Ricardo Delariva and Ricardo Liborio.

For people new to the art, a Gi is a uniform worn by people who do Jiu-Jitsu and is used as a tool to help them submit, takedown, and throw their opponent. 

The beginning of Origin

Pete was out of the country competing when he found out his original manufacturers were scamming the company. Shortly after, Pete returned to the United States, where he then called Dedeco.

“I said, “Hey Pete, what are you doing?” Dedeco said. “He said, “I just landed, we’re going to start making Gi’s in America… talk to you later,” This was the first thing Roberts said to Dedeco at five in the morning when he returned to the states.

Dedeco said he couldn’t sleep after the call. But when Roberts called again to explain further, Dedeco responded, “Holy cow. How are we gonna do that?”

“Get ready. It’s gonna be a very bumpy ride,” Dedeco said as a friendly warning to his wife of what was yet to come. However, Dedco’s wife wasn’t entirely reassured about the idea. 

In fact, she thought the idea was absurd. She felt the idea was so absurd she tore down the caution tape surrounding the area of trees Roberts marked to cut down to build the factory where they would be making the Gi’s, Dedeco told us. 

…. A funny moment in a stressful time as many entrepreneurs face. 

Getting started the American way

Origin USA first started in 2011. The company started by importing their products during the first year until they switched to manufacturing.

Despite the odds and being told it couldn’t be done in America, Roberts and Dedeco picked up their chainsaws and accepted the challenge.

One of the challenges they faced was access to fabrics. They could not get materials outside of China or Pakistan, and they felt that importing the fabrics from other countries defeated the purpose of them being made in the USA.

At the time, the co-founders worked their way to finding an old loom. During their search, they found an old-timer Lenny Davis who taught them to sew Pearl weave. To which they called American Pearl weave, a cotton fabric. 

Over the years, they have switched to other fibers and other weaves and other twists of the thread. All these changes helped to develop some of the most innovative, comfortable, and advanced Jiu-Jitsu kimonos available. 

They worked with raw cotton and fabrics, which resulted in a loss of money, but they had to come too far to turn back.

Roberts said he remortgaged his house and got another $100,000. He admitted he felt that they made many mistakes along the way.

“I’d say that there were more tuition payments than mistakes because it was a transition to something, a learning experience, something you’ll never do again,” Roberts said. 

Starting their business was a challenge. Every step of the way allows one to pivot in thinking outside the box, but Roberts said he doesn’t want to go back to the start.

Can you talk about bringing Jocko on the team?

Roberts and Dedeco were searching for some help when they came across Jocko. They wanted to find someone who could help the company create a platform and become known worldwide. But being such a small company, they had a hard time finding the support they wanted. 

“If they didn’t know about us, they thought we were either crazy or that the kimono was too innovative and wouldn’t be successful,” Roberts said.

Jocko was a fan of Origin. Jocko became popular around 2015/16. Roberts said that he and Jocko had spoken in the past before, but Robert’s never returned his email.

“Call him. I haven’t heard of this guy,” Dedeco questioned who Jocko was.

There was quite some time before Origin and Jocko finally collaborated. It was only after Jocko announced that he was trying to get in touch with the founders of Origin that they finally connected. 

“We had a steak and a handshake in Portland, Maine,” Roberts said. “And he had the platform, we had the product, and we just combined.” 

They discussed launching a nutritional line with Jocko. The line became quite successful as it became 70% of Origin’s growing business. 

It is a massive division for the company. It is now the whole nutritional division. 

As Origin continues to grow, Roberts describes Jocko’s nutritional division effects on the company as explosive.  

“The Inc 500 said we’ve cracked the top 100 fastest growing businesses in America. We’ll see,” Roberts said. “You know, we’re waiting for the results. But we’re right up there.” 

What would you like to share with the world?…. An entrepreneur’s vision

Origin has come a long way, and for Dedeco, he hopes that the world knows that these accomplishments did not happen overnight. 

“We didn’t cut corners; we didn’t try to find shortcuts,” Dedeco said. 

Roberts and Dedeco spent the beginning of their journey spotting the funds necessary. Dedeco said there were times he used money from selling Gi’s to his students that he could use to help make payroll.  

There were many early mornings for Roberts and Dedeco and lots of traveling to meet halfway. They broke all their piggy banks every step of the way.

“We don’t have the money again, going to the little piggy bank that I had with the students buying our Gi’s,” Dedeco said. “Scrape some money here; we can buy that again. Meeting up, back to work every single day; it wasn’t easy.”

Roberts stated one important thing he wishes people knew was what the life of an entrepreneur is like. 

“Especially when you start something, and you don’t have two nickels to rub together,” Roberts said. “All you have is an idea in your head, and you have a vision, and you’re trying to find a way to activate and really take action on what’s in your mind.”

An entrepreneur’s vision almost seems impossible when they don’t have the money. The first thing they must do is humble themselves. But the goal is impossible because entrepreneurs don’t have the knowledge, but knowledge is free, Roberts said….. So get knowledge with all your getting!

“But Pete was there soon stitching the Gi’s, putting the Gi’s together every day on the machines,” Dedeco said.

Roberts dedicated himself to learning how to sew from watching videos on YouTube. There was no factory at the time, and they were working out of their homes. 

Drives that lasted hours commuting to and from different locations later turned to shorter airplane flights. 

Dedeco said they didn’t have the luxury of starting a factory to mass-produce. But Roberts took his time to learn and commit to sewing and making Gis and rash guards. 

“I don’t know how many times this guy sent me a photo of his finger that the needle went through, and he didn’t go to the hospital he wrapped around some rag that he found on the sides and kept going,” Dedeco recalled at the beginning of their journey the dedication Roberts had to the company striving for a through and through U.S. made product. 

A true success: Origin USA 

Origin is a true American-made success story that should inspire anyone! Bening, an entrepreneur, is not an easy road. You have to learn so much on the fly as you’re working to create, run, and build a successful company. But to those who preserve and don’t quit, the rewards can be outstanding for them and literally the world over.

Never quite in life, always keep training, and you can build your dream in this life!

Oss 

 

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