On today's edition of 5 fits we chat with Alden Roth. Alden is the founder of Rocketfuel Studios, a Pittsburgh based video production studio who specializes in commercial story telling! Alden is an old friend, it was great to catch up!

Hi Alden! What's going on?!

Not much, man! I'm sipping on some coffee in a cozy armchair, excited to get outside and snowboard later!

Hell yeah! It's definitely that time of year. What's your fit currently?

Honestly, I am just in comfy cozy clothes right now because it's -1ºF here in Upstate NY: Fleece-lined Nike sweatpants that make me feel like an eastern block mobster, a KAVU graphic long sleeve, and my hunter orange Rocketfuel Beanie. I'm certainly no fashion icon - I've always been more of a function-over-fashion kinda guy.

FIT 1:

Fashion and style are subjective. Whatever makes you feel your best is all that matters. We've known each other a while now, since 2012 to be exact. We bonded through rugby and film. While we're very different, our paths have been somewhat parallel. What would you say is the biggest thing you learned from your time at Point Park? 

Oh man.... I look back at college very fondly, mostly because of the friendships I made. I always say that the only thing Point Park taught me was how to tell stories really well. But, truthfully, I think the most important thing I learned is the importance of friendships and fostering genuine connections with others. I was something of a lone wolf when I first got to college and pretty lonely the first couple months. One day I saw you wearing a PPU Rugby shirt and asked you about it, and I was set from there with a group of friends and brothers I could always count on. One of my favorite film quotes, from It's a Wonderful Life, is "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." and I genuinely think I would be lost without the friends I made in college. 

It's wild looking back after all this time, and thinking about what you actually learn from those 4 years. Some of my best friends are from Point Park. I always say the biggest thing I learned in college was how to live. I grew up a lot in that short amount of time. Speaking of growing up, we're both from West Virginia, but now you're back in the Mountaineer state. How has being from there, leaving, and going home influenced your style?

Growing up, I had a very weird style... All the cool kids wore Hollister and Aeropostale, but I wanted nothing to do with that. My friends and I gravitated toward Hot Topic, with heavy influences from goth and emo culture. Lots of bands tees and big graphics, but I didn't love wearing all black so I usually picked bright, loud colors - things that were unique and made me stick out. I still really love graphic tees and bright colors, and you can see that in all my outdoor and running gear. I just think life's too short to wear boring clothes, and a fun or different piece of clothing is a great conversation starter for a potential new friendship. 
When I moved to Pittsburgh, I started getting into the outdoors and that was when my style was really about "function over fashion". Moving home to West Virginia, I feel like I have a healthy balance of function and fashion. I still care deeply about how a piece of clothing works or feels when I'm wearing it, but I also want to feel confident in it, which leans more on the fashion side of things.

FIT 2:

You're a pretty active guy, and in the last few years got into Ultra running. How did this come about? and what are your favorite threads when you're crushing 26.2 plus?

I learned about ultrarunning in 2012 when one of my high school friends started doing ultras. I thought it was totally wild and said I wanted to do it someday. Fast forward to 2020 when the world shut down, and I reevaluated my life and decided that then was as good a time as any to finally dive into trail running and ultras in earnest. I've been hooked since. I did my first ultra in 2020, the Antelope Canyon 55k, and then I did my first 100-miler, Rim to River, in 2021.
My shoes change pretty often, but I love a bright, vibrant pair of shoes - usually Hokas. My favorite trail running shorts are a tamer color, but they have 5 giant pockets which are perfect for filling with food on long runs, and they're so light that it almost feels like I'm wearing nothing - Patagonia Strider Pro 7" Shorts in pale blue. In the summer, I love to wear a hunter orange tank top I got at the Cacapon 12-hour Endurance race. On the back of the shirt reads a quote, "Make friends with pain and you'll never be alone". In the colder months, I love my long-sleeve Rabbit EZ Tee(Fit 2) - this thing is ridiculously soft. And on mi cabeza, I'm really digging the new, black, Post Season athletic rope hat that you guys hooked me up with!

FIT 3:

Much like Post Season, you started your company, Rocketfuel, from the ground up. What are the biggest challenges and things you've learned so far?

When I first started Rocketfuel with my business partner, Davis Kinville, we focused a lot on scaling up, growing for the sake of growing, and even though we had a lot of success in the first couple of years, we felt like we lost sight of why we started the business in the first place. We had a team of seven people, but I had essentially become a manager which I hated. The employees were creating great work, but I wasn't doing the work that I loved, just managing other people who were doing the thing I wanted to do. At the beginning of 2023, two of our editors quit around the same time, and we realized we needed to reevaluate our priorities and business strategy. Growing for the sake of growth didn't make sense if no one was enjoying the work. So, rather than quickly trying to fill those empty positions, Davis and I regrouped and decided to stay a team of five, even if that meant we would take longer to finish jobs or have fewer sales. We focused on creating a better work-life balance for our employees and a greater sense of joy and pride in what we were doing. Once we stopped mindlessly going after traditional business metrics and comparing ourselves to other businesses, everyone was happier and enjoyed the work more, and we were still able to pay the bills and put food on the table. 

Finding that balance is crucial to any small business. You're already investing so much effort and time you might as well enjoy it. Based on that, If money was no object, what's one grail you'd snag today?

I would love to grab a vintage ski suit from the 80s. The neon colors and patterns just bring me so much joy. But, I would want it to be the real deal, not a recreation by some of these modern brands. I don't care if it's impractical or if the technology is far inferior - those things rip! 

80's ski videos are so rad haha If I ever come across one i'll send your way. The 1970's and 80's are a big influence on my style, especially rugby style. What's influenced your style the most? A decade? A person? A movie?

Oh man, I have a few rugby polos, too. My favorite is actually a Team USA hand-me-down from my dad, I think from the 80s! I'd say, as of late, it's been my parents more than anything. My wardrobe is full of various influences, mostly movies and the great outdoors, but now being back in WV, my mom is often cleaning out their closets and giving me things that fit her and my dad when they were my age. One of my favorites is a vintage WVU pullover. It was my mom's, so it's definitely a little small for me, but I feel so cozy in it and I love to rep WV.

FIT 4:

Thanks Alden! It was great catching up! Anything else you'd like to add/promote?

Two things, I guess! First, I'd be remiss if I didn't shout out my dad's new Etsy store - DeeepShirt. He's a graphic designer by trade and in his retirement, he's been making hundreds of t-shirt designs. He was selling them on Redbubble, but his store got shut down for a bogus copyright strike, so he just made the jump to Etsy. I probably have 10 of them in my dresser and love to wear his WV designs.
Second, I'll be racing in the Silk Road Mountain Race this August. It's a 1,200-mile, self-supported bike race in Kyrgyzstan. I'm gonna be sharing all sorts of photos and videos from the training process and the race, so if anyone wants to follow along, they can check out my Instagram - @aldenroth2

FIT 5:

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