By Del Cromartie on January 22, 2023
Navy veteran, Brent Kappes, designed an antibacterial sock made from bamboo that helps prevent athletes’ foot. Bamtech, Brent’s active lifestyle clothing line, not only introduces new fabric technology but it is sustainable and 100% manufactured in the United States.
What’s the best thing you like about Pasadena, CA?
“Although I’m originally from Portland, OR, I really enjoy living in Pasadena. The people here are really nice. You typically think people in LA are kind of snobby, but I think they move to Pasadena to get away from that. It’s beautiful here and I live right down the road from the mountains. That’s perfect for my active lifestyle.”
Do you have a hobby?
“I’m a big outdoors guy and I’m really close to the mountains. I can drive a mile down the road and the mountains are right there. I’m an avid hiker. I’ll throw on a twenty-pound weight vest and I’ll just hike through the mountains to get a little bit of exercise and fresh air. I also do rock climbing.
I love staying physically active. It’s more of a lifestyle to me. I enjoy watching football and am a big USC Trojans fan. When I can, I love to watch their games in the Colosseum. Lately, I’ve been getting into graphic design and creating images that look cool and appealing for Bamtech. It’s a lot of fun for me.”
What’s the most unusual job you ever had?
“When I was in the Navy, I had to work in the kitchen. The chefs would cook everything and then pass off the trays to me. I’d have to clean all the burnt chicken or the grease off the pans. I’d have to wear these super long gloves that went up to my shoulders, a huge apron and a face shield and blast scorching hot water onto these pans for hours and hours a day. I did that for 6 months. You can get a lot of different jobs working in the kitchen, but this one was definitely the worst one!”
Does Bamtech donate?
“Yes, donating is very important to me. I contribute to a non-profit called 1% for the planet. They are an organization dedicated to environmental initiatives around the world and I donate 1% of all profits to veteran organizations as well.”
Why did you go into this business?
“I started this business in government contracting. I was selling bamboo socks to various divisions and groups within the military. I started selling FBA for a little. However, I transitioned from that because my end goal was to get my socks into boot camp. That process proved to be very challenging: the people that you must meet and competing with massive long-term contracts, it’s difficult.
I thought being a US veteran along with providing a better solution would allow me to secure the contracts, but it doesn’t work like that. Other factors, like the price, are also considered. The government is looking for the cheapest bidder and I’m not able to compete with that, especially since we only offer the best quality materials.”
Why did you begin with bamboo socks?
“While serving in the Navy, I suffered from persistent athlete’s foot. The quality of the clothing and socks being issued to us in boot camp wasn’t the greatest. You hear so many positive things about how the armed forces have the greatest materials, weapons and technology. But when it came to the clothing, it was just subpar. That’s when I began exploring different fabric technologies that I could implement to create a sock of my own.
I came across bamboo as an antibacterial material that lasts long and is incredibly soft. This material would resist bacteria and help prevent you from getting athlete’s foot. I thought about how I could combine bamboo with the technology aspect of it. I took bamboo and tech and came up with Bamtech. That’s how it all got started.”
What makes Bamtech different from other active men’s wear clothing brands?
“Bamtech is certified handmade-in-the-USA high-quality clothing that people can wear for a very long time. We offer reliability and comfort. Our clothing is manufactured from sustainable fabrics and all our operations are based in the USA, right here in Los Angeles. Other larger brands use far less quality in their clothing and get their materials for very cheap from overseas.
With Bamtech, the quality of our products is a huge differentiating factor between us and our competitors. We offer a higher level of comfort and a more desired fit. Some of our t-shirts are longer and are tapered towards the bottom whereas, with other brands, their sizing is very broad. The fit of our competitor’s t-shirts can vary by each so there’s no consistency in the fit. Our apparel is antibacterial and incredibly soft. At Bamtech, we like to say: ‘better fabric, better training.’
Many who have tried our clothing confess to not returning to the cotton t-shirt they’re used to wearing, and we’re proud of that. We directly support the local community. By choosing to stay local we create economic opportunities for those who live in the Los Angeles area. Larger manufacturers have outsourced their manpower overseas because of cost reasons, which has caused the American clothing manufacturing industry to dwindle over the years. I feel like if I could help pioneer a recovery of US manufacturers of clothing, that would be amazing.”
So, you manufacture in the USA?
“Yes, everything! From literal scratch. The fabrics are grown and made in the USA. The zippers are made in the USA. The drawstrings are made in the USA. It’s all handmade here. It’s really cool and all local.
With all the manufacturers I work with, I verify where they are getting the textiles and fabrics, as well as who is manufacturing their goods. Some people have tried to pass off materials as made in the USA when they’ve been sourced from outside of the country. The entire process for Bamtech clothing starts and ends in the USA.”
What areas do you cover?
“We currently support customers in the US and Canada.”
What is the most significant event that ever happened to you?
“When I enlisted in the navy, my only goal was to become a navy seal. I have always admired them. During that journey, I broke my leg. Dealing with the recovery from that injury and having to choose a new career field was very challenging for me.”
What did you learn from it?
“Sometimes the cards are the way they lay because of where you’re supposed to be going and there are some things you can’t prevent. In this case, an injury. But look at where I am now. I probably would not have started this business if that didn’t happen, so I like to think that one thing leads to another.”
If you could share one tip with the readers for choosing performance lifestyle clothing, what would it be?
“Try to stick to your smaller businesses and brands. Stick to your mom-and-pop stores that have been in business for a long time and are still local. When I say smaller businesses, I’m referring to staying away from the big competitors, the big names whose products come from China. Typically, it’s going to be much lower quality and it will be hard to determine where it’s made or where the materials came from.
I recommend keeping your shopping local. This is huge. Also, explore other clothing fabrics like bamboo. When I tell people about it, they don’t even know that’s a thing. When they try it out, it’s a complete game-changer for them.”
Do you offer any special discounts?
“Bamtech offers a discount of 25% through govx.com. Veterans, first responders and government employees who are registered through the site can use the discount.”
Brent is what we like to call a local biz hero, a self-made entrepreneur who brings true value to his community. High stands of professionalism and strong work ethics of small business owners like Brent and his Bamtech team are the infrastructure of the Los Angeles economy.
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