10 Questions with Benjamin & Jordan Barnett, Founders of Kapow Meggings, an e-commerce fashion startup
Kapow Meggings is a lifestyle apparel brand founded by Sydney brothers Ben & Jordan that makes iconic men’s leggings designed to supercharge male fitness, fashion, and festival style. Known for its irreverent brand and wild designs, Kapow sells globally from distribution centres in the USA and UK.
1. What’s your background?
Ben spent 12 years in advertising and design agencies with clients like Toyota, Vodafone, Tourism New Zealand, and Travelex before joining US consumer tech company Yelp, launching the brand in Australia and spearheading marketing & community in Sydney.
Jordan’s background is in advertising & marketing across entertainment, retail, fashion, hotels, and alcohol clients before joining Skype, where he ran the biggest global branding campaign in the brand’s history, collaborating with Victoria Beckham and other cultural influencers.
2. What’s your brand story?
Kapow was born in the Nevada Desert surrounded by 70,000 half-naked humans at Burning Man. Guys wore brightly coloured women’s leggings because they couldn’t find any for men. Over the next year we talked to men around the world, who told us they wanted huge colours, wild patterns, and show-stopping designs.
3. What has the company’s growth trajectory looked like?
We started small with five designs. Selling exclusively online and starting with zero marketing, after a few months we were getting orders from far-flung places like Japan, Finland, Brunei and South Africa. Since then we’ve doubled sales every 6 months and now have USA, UK and German stores with distribution centres in USA and the UK.
4. How did you know you had a viable product?
Men’s fashion is driven by sports and pop culture. The rise of athleisure was followed by athletes wearing compression tights to aid performance and recovery. Meggings really hit the mainstream when celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Russell Brand, Diplo, and Shia LaBeouf started wearing them, and got international coverage when Anthony Kiedis from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing at the 2014 Superbowl in meggings.
5. What does your team look like?
Kapow is a great example of how e-commerce startups can truly be borderless. Our founders are based in Sydney and Florida, our designer is in Sweden, our developers in Manila, our social media director is in Bosnia, our German director splits his time between Mannheim and Chiang Mai, and our fulfilment centres are in Dorset and Wyoming. Between us we have every time zone covered.
6. What about the controversy?
Bring it on. Meggings are a polarising product, we find people either love us or hate us. Our social media posts can end up with some fiery engagement, but we’re happy people are getting involved and voicing their opinions.
7. What’s your goal for the business?
To be the #1 men’s leggings company on the planet. We stated with an Originals range and a Metallic range, and earlier this year we launched a new Performance Range of men’s compression tights. Traditionally these come in black or navy, so we flipped the script by producing high quality athletic leggings in show-stopping designs with names like Jungle Funk, Hyperdrive, and Star Lord.
8. Do you have a mission statement?
It’s a basic idea, but relevant in today’s climate of media outrage and Youtube trolls. We believe humans are born for self-expression, and that we should support each other. As a little kid you run around in a Superman cape and a tutu with a sandal on one foot and a gumboot on the other, because it makes you happy. As you grow older you’re taught to conform and get pressured to dress and look and act like everyone else – or risk standing out and opening yourself up to criticism from your peers or faceless keyboard warriors. If a person does something differently, our first instinct is to judge them for it. People become afraid to poke their head over the battlements and tend to choose the safe option. In our ideal world creativity and self-expression are encouraged, people take more chances, and we all support those who are doing things differently.
9. Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We just dropped a holo-glitter fashion range, and are about to launch followed by a line of ultra-luxe athletic leggings that will hit before Christmas. We’re pumped about this last line – there’s nothing like them on the market, they will really raise the bar for men’s leggings globally. Our customers consistently ask for underwear, shorts, and tops, so we’ll also be diversifying our product offering into new apparel lines in the first half of 2019.
10. Do you have a favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Time infuriates me. The way it continues to tick by while I stand there and watch.” This has been printed on a piece of paper on my wall for the better part of a decade. I don’t know who said it, but it’s great motivation to get out there and make things happen right bloody now, no more procrastinating, no more excuses.