Jason Powers is exactly what you’d expect him to be. Funny, tattooed to the hilt, living in a beautiful apartment at the top of the Castro in San Francisco with a hyper boxer named Daisy and his boyfriend, James, who’s running business development on a line of menswear Powers says he’s been dreaming about for years.
“Rampant started as an art show, meant to challenge myself to do something completely out of my box. The intention was just to see if I could actually do it, and the reception was really warm,” he writes me, later. “People were asking about where I sold my clothes and how they could help. It was that encouragement along with invitations to show at other events that really fueled the desire to make rampant a viable business!”
His tone changes in a follow up call, when I ask him about his years as a bar tender in Sacramento, building out his business and putting in money into designs he was never sure would actually sell. “It’s been a long road,” he tells me, and describes months of working in a one bedroom basement apartment with a sewing machine.
I can empathize with how those months must have felt, but I wonder, listening to him talk, if they weren’t the times that taught him the innovative skill-set he’s using for his first line of hand created men’s pieces.
Rampant’s bottom line is “build your own dress shirts with carefully selected fabrics that relate to different fabrics.” Starting with Larkin St Youth Services, an initiative providing mentorship and portfolio building experience for at risk or homeless youth.
The commitment to San Francisco starts with donations to Larkin, but continues with locally sourced and produced materials, and stretches into Rampant’s delivery and pick up service – ensuring that local dudes get the right fit, and can return pieces that aren’t a match without lifting a finger.
Powers says he’s taking the pain out of shopping for guys he knows care about their look, but won’t take the time to ensure that their wardrobe fits like it should. He get’s excited about this, showing that his company differentiates from your average department store line by bringing back the art of the perfect fit, without the hassle of running to a tailor.
“We are creating a shopping experience that is really geared toward the way men shop,” adds. “Building a web portal and a showroom that is off the beaten path and designed to be as high or low touch as a guy wants. It’s about offering smart recommendations and allow for micro-customizations to be much more personal and special.”
Powers brings it all back to the heart of his work, as we wrap up out conversation, reminding me that he went out of his way to choose materials and manufacturing partners that his customer would relate to.
“We sourced, purchased, designed, and produced every part of these shirts in the city of San Francisco,” he adds. “This city has hidden pockets of industry that have been tricky to find, but worth it in the long run. It shows our commitment to the community that we are here to stay and here to make things better. Part of that commitment is in the materials we chose. Whenever possible we chose the organic or Eco-friendly materials, because we think it matters.”
He admits that the path he’s chosen may be more difficult, but Powers just isn’t cool with cutting corners.
“Yes it’s more expensive to produce local,” he nods. “But being part of our community is important to us — and it resonates with our guy.”
He ends with a smiley emoticon, and I picture his face, focused – producing shirts in his basement, building a dream I love watching unfold on top of a mountain in San Francisco.
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