At Brunswick Park, we designed each of our pieces with the avid traveler in mind. In order to do this we had to talk to some "avid travelers" and over time have collected some pretty cool travel stories. Here's the first that we'd like to share with you...
Mark Bollman travels a ton.
The Babson College grad and founder of Newbury Street staple Ball and Buck is seemingly always on the move, whether it’s San Francisco, Beijing or several weeks in Montana with nothing but a BMW dirtbike and whatever he can fit in a pack.
As glamorous as that sounds, traveling isn’t always easy. But Bollman has created a brand in Ball and Buck that’s so intertwined with who he is as a person, “work” is kind of a relative term. He doesn’t so much “travel for work” as he “travels and works.” They’re one and the same.
“For Ball and Buck travel is about adaptability,” Bollman told me. “As a Boston-based brand, it’s natural to build and sell products that work well in New England's climate. Traveling, though, puts the products into environments that are very different to the New England norm. From sub-zero temperatures to near 100% humidity, we are pushed to build products that work well on the extremes of the climate scale just as well as they do in our normal zone.”
It’s genius if you think about: Years ago, fresh out of college, Bollman had the foresight to create a brand that perfectly fits his lifestyle. For most entrepreneurs, it can be the other way around.
“Taking into account the experiences that both our team and our customers have wearing and using our products, we are able to fortify and upgrade our designs yielding them better ready for anything you can throw at them,” he added.
And he throws a lot at his products. On any given day, Bollman might be found fishing in Newport, RI, romping through the woods of his rural Massachusetts home or cooking under the stars in his beloved Montana.
Or, you know, paying a local in Beijing $5 to use his ladder to access a remote section of the Great Wall of China.
We asked Bollman for one of his craziest travel stories. Here’s what he told us …
Back in 2015, I took a three-week trip to Asia involving visits to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Beijing. While in Beijing I wanted to spend a day hiking the Great Wall, but as with all travel experience, I'm willing to go to great lengths to avoid the tourist areas in favor of the authentic ones. The Great Wall experience was no different. Working with the hotel, a taxi was arranged to drop us off at a "non tourist" section of the wall, then pick us up at another pickup point 10 miles down the wall. While in the cab the driver, who spoke very little English referred to an American Woman who recently did the same thing but had much more equipment; we figured it to be more of a language barrier than anything to be concerned about.
Looking back, the first sign that we had bitten of a bit more than we could chew was when we entered the 2-mile trail up to the wall and were stared in the face with a sign saying "this section of the wall closed.” Though at the time it seemed as though the authentic experience had been achieved. When we finally approached the wall we quickly realized how "authentic" this was going to be. There were no stairs, signs or apparent ways of even getting onto (what was left of) the wall. We heard footsteps and a mountain man, who lived at the point where the trail met the wall ran over to the side and flipped down a ladder accompanied with a sign saying $5 for ladder. Out the wallets came and we were on the wall, which more resembled a post-apocalyptic rock quarry than any sort of Great Wall you imagined in a history book. A couple hours of climbing on all fours and even legit rock climbing vertical faces and we hit the end: A +/- 60-ft. vertical face. We turned back.