Kitsbow gear is made by humans, not machines, and not by labor that is exploited. Our gear is made by people re-inventing the production of premium apparel in America as a team activity, combining their artisan skills with team-oriented problem-solving and product creation. This is the story of one of our employees, Dave.
Dave has been working at Kitsbow since January of 2020. He’s now a Maker II (highest level of craftsmanship) and currently works in the cell that produces your Mescal Shorts, Haskell Shorts, & Haskell Pants.
Dave, riding his bike, in front of the Kitsbow Factory & Old Fort Ride House at 59 Commerce Street in Old Fort, NC.
The Journey to Kitsbow
Back in 2019, Dave was taking a 5 day immersion course on bicycle repair when he learned that a textile manufacturer called Kitsbow was moving to North Carolina. He was taking the immersion course because he was determined to align his career with his passion. He loved riding his bike and decided he was going to be part of the bike industry. After learning about Kitsbow during the bike repair course, he took it as a sign and applied for the job! “I previously worked in textiles and loved it. So I’m going to go that direction and see what happens”. The rest is history...
Sewing is more than a skill for Dave, it’s a legacy.
Dave is a third generation textile artisan and has been around sewing machines his entire life. As a child, he was taught how to sew with needle & thread and has fond memories watching his grandmother sew clothing in her home studio for the whole family, including wedding dresses, and intricate doll clothes. “Working at Kitsbow was a natural progression in my curiosity. I wanted to see if I could do it, and I can!”
Both of Daves’ parents worked in the textile industry. “My mother is so proud of me and happy to see apparel coming back to North Carolina”. During the 60s, 70s, and 80s, textile plants were a huge industry in North Carolina. Many ended up shutting down and going overseas after NAFTA was passed. “I’m proud to be part of history bringing apparel back to this area.”
There’s over 255 unique steps involved with making Haskell Pants, Shorts, and Mescals, and Dave has them memorized.
Flow like water…
“I didn’t know what to expect from this company but I’ve experienced a lot of growth and I’ve seen a lot of growth in the company”. Kitsbow practices Lean Manufacturing which means growth, learning, and continuous improvement is found at the core of everything we do.
When reflecting on the changes at Kitsbow, from the PPE pivot to learning how to sew new products, Dave quoted Bruce Lee. “You’ve got to be like water and take on the shape of whatever is going on, like water does”.
He goes on to say, “if you pour water into a cup, it will take on the shape of the cup”. This Bruce Lee quote was an epiphany for Dave and he uses it as his guiding force when navigating change. “I’ve tried to take on the shape of whatever is going on around me and go with it. Change is hard and you just have to be zen about it.”
A true artist
When asked what his favorite part of Kitsbow was, he responded without hesitation , “I truly enjoy all aspects! I like using my hands & creating things. I see myself as an artist”. Dave finds it fulfilling to see the garment come together as it moves along the line, from start to finish.
Every piece of apparel sewn in Old Fort, NC is accompanied by a card initialed by each of the Makers, Cutters, and Operators that helped create that particular garment.
As an artist, one of his many creative outlets is poetry. He agreed to share a poem he wrote:
Alas I’m haunted
By the Forest of Summers green
A dusty path rising, guides me to visions yet unseen
In a quiet moment the trees embrace me as natures child
Tempting me to take my place among them, living in the wild.
In Fall I delight in forests colorful gown
I watch with bated breath, as leaves quietly touch the ground.
I gaze at the night and ponder of explorers yet dwelling in the past.
While a playful breeze whispers to me saying that I should not be the last.
I walk the night sky and guarding sentry in the forest during winters sleep
As cleansing snows fall and frigid rains weep
Stepping as a feather, I dream in the leaves of the coming spring.
Once again, I am haunted by the forest of summers green.
Thank you, Dave, for helping Kitsbow change an industry!