This year’s NACTA Celtic Marketplace in Lombard, IL is home to a warm, wonderful – and sometimes wacky – cast of Celtic characters. Perhaps none fit the bill so well as Tim Gallagher and John McClain of Portland, Oregon-based StumpTown Kilts.
What inspired you to start the business?
All of us enjoyed wearing modern kilts but found some things either lacking or annoying. Timmy ‘out grew’ 3 of his kilts that were made in one size only, this can get expensive or you simply can’t wear your kilt (unless you take to a month of hard exercise, or 3 months in Timmy’s case ;). We mainly started it to satisfy our own needs in a kilt and an option to the limited styles available.
What are the challenges of the gig?
Wow, it started with design and the final product and has continued from there. We took a year and a half in design and went through 16 prototypes to produce the absolute best modern kilt we could. Not to mention being a relatively new small business in times like these is pretty tough and takes full commitment, from production to travelling to shows to social media, etc. It is a lot of work, but we are also lucky enough to have some very talented people who believe in us and our StumpTown Kilt (STK). They put in quite a bit of ‘free’ time in very key areas that actually allow us to get some sleep at night.
What are the rewards?
Wearing a modern kilt 7 days a week is great, they are incredibly comfortable. My genuine pleasure, or I suppose it would be pride, is seeing someone else enjoying our kilt, it is a satisfying feeling. We also make donations to help various causes out and will be joining in this coming year to help Breast Cancer Awareness with pink STK’s and Colon Cancer fund raising with brown STK’s. It’s important to keep the humor.
What kinds of products do you offer, and how are you different from your competition?
We produce Men’s and Women’s Modern Kilts. The StumpTown Kilt (named after Portland OR and made in the Great Northwest USA) is a box pleat based on the original military kilt, while most others offered are a knife pleat. We also have 6 adjustable waist sizes (Men’s) and 5 (Women’s) to allow for weight fluctuation. The STK also has attachable pockets by way of a clever pocket
strap system that looks stylish even when no pockets are attached. While we enjoy and respect the tradition of kilts, we made ours to satisfy modern needs and style. We wear ours so much that we have come to think of them as ‘the new shorts’, plus it is made for easy care just wash and wear. We made it for our lazy laundry inattention as well. The STK is both highly fashionable and functional. We recently introduced our Women’s version and have had great reception. It is not just a cropped version of our men’s STK but is designed for a woman’s curves.
Who are your clients?
We have a broad client base really, from old school kilt wearers who enjoy their traditional kilt but want an easier wear kilt to kick around in, to young men and women who dig the fashion of it. The twenty-somethings have really started responding to our modern kilts and have been adding their own style to them. It is fantastic to see people’s personal styles come out and the different looks that can be built around our StumpTown Kilt.
What are your short, mid and long term goals for the business?
We are continuing to expand our market penetration across this country and into Europe at the moment. The hardest part of this is letting people know we exist and there is an alternative to both traditional and modern kilts. Because of the features of our kilt and our high standard when it comes to how they’re made, we’re seeing a good response in the sales of our kilts and our business is really starting to get traction. It’s very exciting. Our next intention is to bring in other fashion into our product line such as men’s fitted pants, vests, hats and vests. From there we will keep diversifying our product offerings.