Kiel James Patrick wants to save America—one rope bracelet at a time. His Boston accent, in conjunction with my spotty LAX cell reception, keeps me lightly on my toes. I’m at the tail end of a layover on my way to Maui. “You have to go to Koiso Sushi Bar in south Maui,” he says. “It’s in a strip mall but it’s the best sushi I have ever had.” He was just there a couple months ago with his girlfriend, and co-conspirator, Sara. We skip the details and talk heavier things. Like how he plans to save America.
Every summer as a teen, Patrick would tie on a Turk’s head sailor bracelet. It was the all-access wristband to the northeastern summer. They’re better salt-stained and sun-faded. And only after an entire summer, developing a patina proving a season of youth well spent, would mom simultaneously cut it off with the issue of your oxford shirt and repp tie. Kiel James Patrick treasures those days. In fact, he missed them so much he began creating his own Turk’s head inspired pieces and peddling them in his dorm, after class and on the beach. After selling over 200 bracelets at a single trade show, he knew he was on to something.
When I open the package a waft of Providence gently hits my face. He assured me that a small (my wrist measured in at a puny 7”) will fit—and it does, perfectly. Patrick’s attention to detail is meticulous. Each rope bracelet is made in and by residents of Rhode Island. A concentrated effort that’s intentional as much as it marketable. Although he’s outsourced most of the manual labor to locals, he still gets his hands dirty sewing buttons five to ten hours a week in order to keep an eye on quality. He plans to eventually own his own mill...really, own all the channels that go into making his bracelets. The jobs lost by outsourcing overseas drives him to find vendors in his own backyard.
Sneak preview of the new KJP Croffix Sailing Belt
“Yes it costs a little more [to source my materials within Rhode Island],” he explains, “but this way he’s got a job, she’s got a job, I have a job, everyone’s making it—I don’t have to be greedy. I don’t want to be greedy.”
His wares are popping up in established bastions of prep such as Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, and the storied Murray’s Toggery Shop to name a few. This summer a licensing agreement with a couple Ivy League universities will expand the boutique brand’s reach as the bracelets don the stripes and shields of Dartmouth and Harvard.
Thanks to Patrick, your mom won’t be cutting off your rope bracelet at summer’s end. And although you may not be able to relive your youth, you can help save America—one rope bracelet at a time.
Comment below to win a Kiel James Patrick bracelet (sz. small, $35 value). Simply describe the most memorable summer from your childhood. A valid email address is required in order to be eligible. The winner will be selected end of day April 6th, 2010.
Congratulations are in order for Lee Anne, our KJP contest giveaway winner, who shared a summer filled with New England culture, love and self discovery.
"My most memorable childhood summer is my last childhood summer. I was 18 and hopped in my Volkswagen Beetle and drove from Texas to Cape Cod with my best friend. We went to spend our summer as camp counselors in Sandwich, Massachusetts. I saw NYC, Boston, the entire south all on the drive there."
"When I crossed over the Sagamore Bridge for the first time, this southern gal was inundated with New England 101. I learned how to sail, shoot a perfect bulls-eye, serve a tennis ball, pick blueberries, how to shuck an oyster, and most importantly, how to decipher a New England accent. I learned that being “wicked” was a good thing. I saw the Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard and rode Vespas on Nantucket. I flew my first kite. I spent a magical summer on the ocean, my clothing and bed always lightly covered in sand, and loving the taste of that salty water. I watched sunsets over the horizon. I had a summer crush, and made lifelong friends, some of whom live on other continents and speak several languages."
"Most importantly, I found myself. I discovered my love of adventure, my love of traveling the path less traveled, and how much I will always have a piece of New England in my heart. When I’m in the midst of some of life’s biggest challenges, I often close my eyes and imagine sitting on a pier, looking at the beautiful Cape Cod sunset. It always brings a warm smile."