Jakob and Brodie Kahler have always been close. Close in age, close in proximity, and now close in business.
When I say close, I’m referring to being near each other in time and space; to be fair — the two brothers were like most siblings — fighting, arguing, and not fully appreciating each other until later in life. Fortunately, for brothers and best friends, Jake and Brodie, their ‘later in life’ happened during High School.
Growing up, Brodie was content to let Jake take the lead. He shared, “As the older brother, Jake has always set the way, and been a good example for me to follow. I’ve learned a lot from him.” Last year — their roles flipped — with Brodie taking the lead.
While Jake was away serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brodie was ‘chilling’ in his room sketching the amazing designs running through his imaginatively talented head. Brodie graduated from high school right around the same time Jake came home from his mission, and the two soon headed out to Provo for school and work. Jake decided to take a summer job selling solar panels in California and wanted Brodie to come along with him. “I’ve always wanted Brodie to be a part of everything I’m doing, and when I got the sales job, I wanted him to come with me. I thought it would be a good opportunity for him to develop a lot of good skills.” But Brodie had other plans.
While working at Smash Athletics, a screen-printing business, Brodie thought, “I like to draw, and I like to create stuff. I might as well put them [the drawings] on some clothes. I have a book where I write down my ideas, and I started drawing things I thought would be fun. Eventually, I was like, I want to try and create a clothing business because I’ve always really liked fashion and clothing and the idea of designing and having my own fashion line.”
Brodie shared his idea with Jake, and, like any good big brother would do, he jumped at the opportunity to join his little brother on this new adventure together — and Kujoh was born! Well, according to Brodie, it took a lot of tries and a few weeks to come up with a name he loved and could envision what he wanted the brand to represent. Brodie shared, “I was eating dinner one day, and it just came to my head: Kujoh. It [this particular spelling] doesn’t mean anything in any language — I looked it up — but I really liked it.”
Both Brodie and Jake have been looking things up, researching, and doing their homework as they’ve worked together creating their brand and business. The two complement each other perfectly. Jake explained, “Brodie is a very talented kid, very artistically talented. He has a lot of gifts in drawing, and just being able to see something, and I am not at all that way. I’m good at seeing the whole picture and helping to organize and structure a lot of things. I’m good at seeing a process through, taking an idea, creating a finished product, and getting it out to people.”
Jake is very much an extravert, while Brodie is more of an introvert — which works out quite well. While Jake networks, makes connections with various companies, and creates the marketing plans; Brodie goes to his room, turns out the lights, lights some candles, gets out his book, and goes to town creating. Brodie also decides on all the merchandise and does the screen printing for each piece. Jake stated, “Brodie is for sure the heavy lifter in all this, and I’ve just sort of helped map it out. My purpose is to help Kujoh get exposure so Brodie can concentrate on creating clothing that not only he will wear but that others will want to wear too.”
After speaking with both boys, I have to say I was very impressed with how evenly matched they are. In my opinion, they are both heavy lifters — just in different ways. When asked how they were funding their business endeavors (I assumed their parents were helping out financially. Well . . . you know what they say about making assumptions), Jake modestly shared, “I was the one who funded the business to get us on our feet and get started, get our website set up and help us create the test products. We haven’t had to reach out to anyone for help or take out any business loans.” He explained how that was possible, “What I made during the summer we put into the business and whatever we make from sales will go right back into the business. We want to make sure that we can stay on top of everything without ever getting behind or ahead of ourselves. So, that is where I stepped in and started the ball rolling on the business side, making sure that I got all the funding taken care of for everything,” pretty impressive for a 20-year-old.
For now, Smash Athletics is allowing Brodie to utilize their equipment. “I get to go in the shop and set the screens with my design, I choose the colors, and everything — it’s nice.” However, Brodie said that as their need for larger quantities grows, they plan on acquiring their own equipment. The brothers hope to eventually have a production/merchandise warehouse, in addition to a storefront where people can not only purchase their clothing but also come and hang out and have fun, “maybe watch a football game or participate in an activity.” More like a café meets sports club meets merch vibe — Kujoh is not necessarily about a lifestyle but about experiences.
Brodie shared that, “. . . throughout Instagram we will be posting photos where our clothing drops are more like events you can come to. I really want to make the brand a kind of interactive thing. It’s not just clothing; it’s deeper than that. I’m just really excited to be able to explore that in the future.”
What do Jake and Brodie hope for the future of Kujoh? Well, for now, they are looking forward to introducing their brand — Kujoh went live Sunday, February 20th! Pictures of their base layer: a hoodie, a crew neck, and a hat — just for starters — were posted on social media beforehand. If all goes well, which I have no doubt they will, the brothers hope to create fun pop-ups around the country, and eventually nationally. In conjunction with their pop-ups they would also like to start their own non-profit or collaborate with an existing one to share their brand and help others. Brodie explained, “I’d like to do these little pop-ups for a few months at a time in different places where we can get to know other people and immerse ourselves in their culture and help where we can. I also want to collaborate with different brands and companies. I’ve already looked into starting my own charity and what that would take, but it might be easier to work with one that already exists. I want to do a lot of charity, that is important to me. For now, though, we are just concentrating on getting our brand out there.”
Remember earlier when Brodie said that they want their brand to be more about experiences than about clothes — to be deeper? Well, Brodie is already working on a second clothing line called Kujoh and Kin. He said, “I really like the idea of kin being family.” Jake and Brodie shared that they couldn’t have done any of this without the support of their family and friends throughout this entire experience. They both laugh when Jake shares, “Our parents are our best clients right now — they’re wearing all the stuff!” Jake also shared that many of their friends have jumped in with both feet helping with photography, photoshoots, getting the word out, etc., etc.
Kujoh is truly about the experiences we share with our family and friends, and above all else, it’s about two brothers celebrating each others’ unique gifts and strengths; doing their part to make the world a better place by bringing people together through shared experiences!