Naadam’s Journey from Risky Loan to Lucrative Cashmere Fashion Brand

The remarkable success story of Naadam, a cashmere apparel brand, epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking that can lead to extraordinary achievements. Founded by Matt Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus, Naadam’s inception during a serendipitous encounter with Mongolian goat herders in the Gobi Desert has evolved into a thriving business model that defies conventional norms.

From Desert Adventures to Business Innovation

In 2013, Scanlan and Rijsemus found themselves immersed in the world of Mongolian wool trade after an unexpected encounter with goat herders during a vacation. This experience sparked an innovative idea: to create affordable cashmere products by sourcing wool directly from herders, bypassing traditional middlemen. Despite lacking industry experience and initial funding, the duo embarked on a bold journey.

The Risky Leap of Faith

In 2015, Scanlan’s parents took a significant risk by using their home as collateral for a $2.5 million loan to kickstart Naadam. With borrowed funds in hand, Scanlan and Rijsemus ventured into the Mongolian desert, purchasing 50 tons of unprocessed cashmere wool directly from herders. This daring move marked the beginning of Naadam’s unconventional path to success.

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Innovation

Overcoming initial uncertainties and financial risks, Naadam’s founders persevered by leveraging innovative strategies. A pivotal moment came in 2018 when a three-minute video showcasing their desert escapades and brand vision went viral, propelling Naadam into the spotlight. This video not only defined the brand but also attracted widespread attention and support.

Sustainable Growth and Community Impact

Naadam’s journey from a risky loan to a $100 million annual revenue stream exemplifies sustainable luxury and ethical business practices. By disrupting the cashmere supply chain and ensuring fair wages for goat herders, Naadam has not only achieved financial success but also made a positive impact on local communities in Mongolia.

Looking Ahead: A Testament to Resilience

The evolution of Naadam serves as a testament to resilience, creativity, and the transformative power of entrepreneurship. From humble beginnings in the Gobi Desert to becoming a prominent player in the fashion industry, Naadam’s story inspires aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace risks, innovate boldly, and pursue their dreams against all odds.


  1. CNBC – How Naadam Grew from Risky Loan to Lucrative Cashmere Fashion Brand
  2. Tammy AI – From $2.5 Million Loan to $100 Million/Year: The Naadam Success Story
  3. Fast Company – Why One Man Bought 150 Tons of Cashmere in the Gobi Desert with $3 Million
  4. Forbes – How Naadam Created A $100 Million+ Sustainable Luxury Cashmere Brand
  5. NBC Connecticut – The Market for Hybrid Jobs with Six-Figure Salaries Has Collapsed