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Q&A with KIKOOYA Founder Jon Skaalen

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Q: Can you describe the pathway that led you to starting an apparel brand?

A: This is a story of an athlete to entrepreneur. I played every sport I could fit in growing up, eventually playing water polo through college. My career journey started in acquisitions then to analytics and sports marketing. I have always remained active and ultimately drawn back to my roots of keeping my body in motion and being outdoors. My passion is to create apparel that supports an active lifestyle and challenge myself and others to "Author Your Adventure." The clothing is an extension of how I want to live.

Q: How did you come up with the name for the company?

A: The name Kikooya is a nod to a type of grass found in the rough on many SoCal golf courses. When your ball lands in the rough, you have deviated from your intended corridor of play, making the next shot more difficult. It is a metaphor in my life where I get to ask the questions “How can I frame my mind?” and “How do I approach my next step, especially when it is a difficult one.” Kikooya is extremely tough and resistant to various harsh conditions and elements thrown its way. That is the type of perseverance that permeates the mindset at the company.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: My inspiration comes from helping others increase their time spent in the following three areas: more time outside, increased physical activities and trying new adventures. I believe the combination of those 3 things will increase one’s physical and mental wellness. I watch my kids run, play, and push themselves purely for the joy of it. I feel like that gets lost as we get older, and it doesn't need to be the case.

Q: How would you describe your design style?

A: First and foremost, any item that makes it to production must be functional and versatile. We test it in a variety of different activities to make sure it not only looks amazing but has the right amount of performance built in. Second, I have always been focused on intentional simplicity. Inspired by Scandinavian aesthetic, Kikooya stands for high quality with a clean and crisp look without sacrificing beauty. We want to ensure a seamless transition from outdoor performance to various other activities throughout the course of the day.

Q: What is your goal for the brand?

A: I want the brand to be synonymous with pursuing a life well lived, fostering a deeper connection to nature, oneself, and the community while encouraging meaningful outdoor experiences. The focus is on creating and curating intentional, well-made, and authentic pieces that emphasize the importance of human touch, fostering a genuine connection with your customers.

There is a mindfulness of not just where materials are coming from but also the lifecycle of the product. We like balanced aesthetic and durable construction with attention to subtle design details that ensure performance and keep items looking nice thus promoting longevity to reduce waste.

The essence of Kikooya is personal. The human connection, time, and thoughtfulness is the soul of the product. The goal is to connect with individual experiences and aspirations, allowing customers to create meaningful ties with the brand.


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