HomeBlogHow to Become a Dirtbag Climber + Entrepreneur: Meet Kush Climbing Founders
How to Become a Dirtbag Climber + Entrepreneur: Meet Kush Climbing Founders
Crash pads, get ready for a long-needed makeover. Meet Kim + Kyle, the dirtbaggers turned entrepreneurs who started Kush Climbing, the ‘world’s first crash pad built with sustainability and creative expression in mind’.
We’re so excited about Kush Climbing – the pad party we’ve seen out on the rocks has been in need of a shake up for a while. Where did you guys get the idea for Kush Climbing?
We knew that we wanted to start our own business. So we started looking at all of the things and activities that we enjoy doing and tried to find where we could make them better.
We have the opportunity to make things the way we wanted them to be.
That’s when we decided on crash pads.
The first sketch was of Buddha hands catching a fall. From there we knew we would be printing the designs. The next decision was to make our products as sustainable as possible. We love the wild places we explore and want them to be around for a long time. It just made sense.
Awesome. Love the philosophy of ‘make things the way you want them to be’. What was the process like for putting together a business plan?
The idea had been on our minds for a while when we took a climbing trip through California. We hit Joshua Tree and Yosemite boulders in March of 2015. We talked about our idea a ton while traveling. The road is great for that.
On the drive back to Colorado we decided to make it happen.
We wrote our business plan in the back of our Joshua Tree bouldering guide book.
Fueled by Redbull and recent adventures, the ideas just flowed while we drove. Fourteen hours later, we had a business plan. Even though we are far from Joshua Tree, that book still guides us.
What is the best piece of advice for climbers who want to become entrepreneurs?
If you’re not already, become a full blown dirtbag.
Cutting rent and moving into our RV is the only way we were able to cover start up costs. Moving into our ride opened up a whole new way of traveling and getting our ideas and products in front of early adopters. We mostly live at the gym, our local climbing community hub, and get to commune with rad dirtbags on a regular basis. These are the folks that are all in. They eat, sleep and breath rock climbing. These are our people. The ones we make the gear for. We’ve made amazing friends and invaluable connections. I would also suggest getting a work space. Having a space to get work done has been a huge help for us in the last few weeks.
To be honest, if we had an apartment we’d still be spending all of our time at the shop, gym or in the mountains.
You guys are literally living the dream. Is there anything about living in a RV that you didn’t expect?
We definitely didn’t expect to become amateur mechanics. Our rig is from 1976. She just hit 100,000 miles. To date we have had 2 electrical fires, an interstate blow out, bad ignition switch, bad radiator cap, had to replace the fuel pump, and the breaks have gone out a few times. That is all within the span of a year. Our vehicle manual that has been worth it’s weight in gold. We try to do as much of the mechanical work as possible, and did not expect all of the issue that have come up. But I guess we should have. She is a big old lady, and we sure do love her.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about crash pads?
Everything has been surprising. We had an idea to produce crash pads, but that was it. We’ve spent the last 15 months learning how to make it work. The entire process of cutting, sewing and stuffing is all new to us. It’s been an amazing learning experience. But the most surprising thing is how much materials costs. Especially when we started making them one at a time. To purchase in bulk and have our cutting and sewing completed by a local manufacturer. We’ve refined the cost and process to make this thing into a reality. Now we’re working on bringing a completely unique product to the climbing community.
Sweet. Last question – how do you balance being married and working together?
This part isn’t as hard as many would think. Our background goes way back. We actually went to kindergarten together. Though we don’t remember one another there is definitely photographic evidence. We really met in college at LSU. We dated for a couple years before heading out to Western Europe after graduation. The adventure through Europe cemented our relationship. It was also the trip where we got engaged and discovered rock climbing.
Spend eight months cycling all day and sleeping in a tent with someone and you can pretty much make it through anything. We both have our strengths and work well in combining them to come up with the best solutions. We live it every day, so some times it can be a bit draining.
When it gets to be a little crazy we always have climbing there to help us blow off some steam. When your partner has your life in their hands there is no room for anything but sending and good times.
It’s a release that allows us to step back while still taking part in what the core of our business revolves around. So yeah, we do well.
Thank you so much for asking such wonderful questions. It’s always nice to sit back and reflect on the journey that got us to this point.
Anytime! We’re super excited to announce that we’re working with Kush Climbing and Caleb Freese to create a stretch goal crash pad, ‘Candy Crash Saga’.