Opting for the Scenic Route
The Leelanau Peninsula features lush green forests, farmland, vineyards and sand dunes — but more notably is the surrounding oceanic blue waves of Lake Michigan. The coastline along the mitten’s pinky finger is recognized as a trove of recreational destinations for the hang loose kayaker to the stoked kiteboarder. This scenic route is well-known in Leelanau and the surrounding counties as highway M-22 and is the inspiration behind the infamous outdoor brand, M22.
Brothers and Co-Founders, Matt and Keegan Myers grew up in Traverse City where they took advantage of the windy coast as avid kiteboarders. Following college, the two started up Broneah Kiteboarding and traveled the world offering lessons. Eventually, they were drawn back to their homeland where they continued to offer lessons all along the iconic highway. They developed a core group of friends and had an idea to put the M22 logo on a shirt to signify the area and comradery.
“It meant something; it meant so much to us. We wanted a symbol to represent that and the M22 logo just made sense,” Matt describes.
The simplistic design gained immediate traction and soon they were receiving requests for shirts from strangers. Realizing the potential, M-22 became more than just a state highway.
Matt & Keegan Myers
Traverse City, MI
Outdoor apparel and accessories
One percent of all sales is donated to the Leelanau Conservancy
“Michigan is raw and wild and compared to other places in the world, and there aren’t many people here,” says Matt explaining why Michigan will always be home. “The people that live here are quality humans — they’re people that survive all seasons — and living through the seasons, people appreciate the simpler things and that’s why we have such a strong community.”
The M22 symbol elicits a lifestyle defined by those who shovel through the Michigan winters but continue to seek out its natural features. “It might be a dock or a remote beach in Suttons Bay, that’s someone’s M22, and for another, it’s kiteboarding out at Frankfort,” says Keegan explaining the connection between the M22 logo and their customers. “The representation can be a huge difference between people because everyone has their own experience with it and we’re just providing a symbol for them to have.”
M22 gained national recognition and not just for its adventure-seeking lifestyle. Since day one, M22 has donated one percent of its annual sales to the Leelanau Land Conservancy’s efforts to protect the land and water surrounding Leelanau County. To date, over $100,000 has been donated to the local land conservancy.
“They protect the land but they also give access; I think that’s a huge thing,” explains Matt. “They aren’t buying up land and telling people to stay away — they want to provide the public access to experience it. So that means I can take my kids to these places and these experiences will be with them for the rest of their lives.”
Donated proceeds are determined by gross sales not profit, bolstering their commitment to preserving Michigan’s land and water.
Matt has faith the future generations will continue to advocate for our land and water. “I think it’s an innate thing for wanting our children to experience what we have with our lakes. I see some of the younger generations that come into the store and the environment, it’s on their radar.”
M22 is also dedicated to sustainable practices in an effort to minimize the company’s environmental footprint. Their apparel is sourced through Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, which certifies companies that help promote safe, lawful, humane and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices, and retail purchases are placed in recyclable and compostable shopping bags. M22 has also teamed up with multiple organizations whose efforts protect our land and water including Great Lakes Business Network, FLOW (For Love of Water), and MiiR.
The partnerships and sustainable efforts are only part of M22’s mission. They’re also dedicated to educating their customers and community; promoting M22’s involvement with the Leelanau Conservancy, and raising awareness of the protection of our lakes for the enjoyment of future generations. When it comes to discussing the future and what resources will be available, Matt has faith that future generations will continue to advocate for our land and water. “I think it’s an innate thing to want our children to experience what we have with our lakes. I see some of the younger generations that come into the store and the environment, it’s on their radar.”
While Matt and Keegan weren’t aware of the environmental threats in their early years, Matt has noticed a generational shift. “The new generations care about the environment, they want to support businesses that have that behind them and they want to buy products that are conscious of it.”
M22 is more than a symbol or a highway sign. It’s a bond between family, friends, community, and strangers. It’s a connection to the land and water — the feeling of sand between your toes, the crunch of leaves on a trail, and the rush of bubbles escaping the surface after you plunge in. Your adventure may start at M22, but your contribution to a legacy will benefit a future generation of new adventurers.