Building from the ground up is no easy feat, Jesse Hutmacher said, but attacking a venture head-on is the adrenaline rush he seeks.
“Anyone can be a savage — everyone has it in them. It’s about whether or not you unlock it and let go. When you think about ‘savagery,’ it’s related to a primitive, beginning state. So with my business, I’m putting in that raw willpower to get to where I want,” said Hutmacher, describing his brand, Savage Athleisure, which officially launched in October.
Click here to shop Savage Athleisure.
As a former collegiate athlete at Baker University and long-time admirer of fashion, the 24-year-old waited a few years for the right moment to build his own athleisure venture, he said.
“I realized that the perfect time never comes, so you just have to go for it,” shared Hutmatcher, who balances his time as an entrepreneur with training as an agent in the federal government. “I really hit the ground running in December of 2020, devoting time every day to work on designing or communication with manufacturers or the legal side of setting up trademarks and a website.
“It’s really hard some days,” he continued, “but it’s like the fitness world. It takes the right form, practice and consistency to succeed, and I think you can apply that to anything you do in life.”
Savage Athleisure’s striking skeleton logo was inspired by Hutmacher’s own skeleton hand-horns tattoo, he said, noting its meaning: Rock on until you’re gone.
Click here to follow Savage Athleisure on Instagram.
Disrupting athleisure prices
Along with passion, another of Hutmacher’s big drivers in founding Savage Athleisure: He was tired of expensive price tags when looking for workout or lounge wear, he recalled.
“The other half of the purpose behind Savage Athleisure is to attack the industry with fair, affordable prices,” Hutmacher said. “Of course, the brand still has to make profit to keep business moving, but it is ridiculous to charge someone $80-plus for a pair of joggers.
“I wanted to put out products that are the same quality, trendy and durable; but they’re at a fair price,” he noted. “It’s about inclusivity because, again, anyone can be a savage, and they should be able to wear clothes that give them the boost to feel like that.”
Mens products on the site, for example, run $25 to $35.
After sampling dozens of fabrics and testing his products out himself, Hutmacher is confident that Savage Athlesure’s quality holds strong, he said.
“I wouldn’t put anything out there that I wouldn’t wear,” Hutmacher added. “As for the women’s line, my girlfriend tests out everything.”
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Leaning on others
Although Hutmacher is the only official employee of Savage Athleisure, he refuses to call himself a one-man team.
“It’s all coming out of my bank account, but I definitely have a support group who is extremely helpful,” Hutmacher said. “There’s a really nice quote that goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ The people who I am surrounded by definitely support and push me to go far.”
Hutmacher’s girlfriend, Katie Welch, has not only helped in sampling products, but also stepped in on the marketing side when needed, he praised.
“I really wanted to be here [in Kansas City] for the launch,” said Hutmacher, who grew up in Olathe, Kansas, but travels out-of-state often with his job. “But I got a phone call right before that I was going to have to head down South for six months for training. Thankfully, my parents have also been extremely helpful in shipping things out and keeping inventory organized.”
Growing the brand
Hutmacher’s main focus with his business is building organic growth, he said.
“Almost everybody who’s placed an order has gone back and placed a second order,” Hutmacher noted. “My goal is to get the brand out into local gyms and have it spread through word of mouth. But it’s also not just for the gym — I have buddies who rock climb, and they love [Savage Athleisure] for that.”
Savage Athleisure might also hire local athletes to wear and promote the brand, he added.
As the weather gets colder, Hutmacher is excited to launch a winter drop of thicker sweatshirts and sweatpants, he teased. He is also in the works of what he calls “phase two” of the brand.
“Phase one is the modern, minimalist design,” he explained. “Phase two is going to be a streetwear style, so that’s what I’m starting to work on with some graphic designers. I’m hoping to launch that in the beginning of the new year, and then we can start to blend the two parts together.”
Throughout his first entrepreneurial venture, Hutmacher has aimed to stick to his motto: Stay humble. Stay Hungry. Stay Savage.
“The brand is small right now, but building this foundation is important,” Hutmacher acknowledged. “Something I say a lot around the brand is, ‘If you want to do extraordinary things every day, first you need to do the everyday things extraordinarily well — savagely well.’”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.
For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn