This piece is part of our FTWtoday Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.
Kyle Rose is the co-founder of Trippy Outdoor, a Fort Worth-based outdoor furniture company that launched in January. We discovered the modular, mobile furniture at the Main Street Arts Festival + were awestruck that an eight-pound chair can hold 1,000 pounds.
We asked Kyle 10 questions about his groovy products, creating a fun brand, and contributing to healthy lifestyles and environmentally-friendly manufacturing in Fort Worth. Keep reading to learn about Trippy chairs and how you can get yours today.
What was your inspiration for Trippy Outdoor and the products?
Our story is kind of two parts. One part is the product inspiration — my business partner Dony Dawson has a product engineering background and came up with this concept a while ago. He lived in South Africa for a little bit, and while he was there, saw a form factor of a chair that was pretty similar to this. We started looking around, and it turns out it’s an ancient concept from different cultures. They were made out of thick hardwoods, and they’d be two inches thick and probably over 50 pounds.
Part two of the story is, the summer of 2021, we were coming off the first wave of the pandemic, and we really wanted to figure out a way that we could start a really fun business about being outside because we felt a little bit trapped in the house. We were whiteboarding like 30 different ideas, and one of these was Dony’s chair. We decided “Yeah, that’s something we could probably make ourselves,” which is important to us.
We landed on the idea in July of last year, and then we just went to work setting up the manufacturing facility, doing all the brand work, marketing, and getting the website going. We launched the website in January of this year.
Where are Trippy Outdoor chairs made?
We do all the manufacturing and everything right in Fort Worth, and it’s something that we think is really interesting and unique in the outdoor chair market where everything looks more or less the same.
The facility that we’re in right now was a baseball practice facility. There was turf on the ground, all these nets hanging everywhere, and people were having batting practice in there. So we ripped all that stuff out and bought all the machinery. Within six months we were making and selling products from scratch.
Are there different options?
There are two adult chairs. Kids and teenagers like the medium-sized one, and the bigger one is great for adults. But it kind of depends on what you want to use it for.
The taller one is really nice, and you can lean back and rest your head. It’s great if you’re talking about patio furniture, the beach, or camping. The medium-sized one is a little bit lighter and smaller. And we’re coming out with a kid’s version that’s half the size. My daughter is three, and she loves it because she can do it herself.
The chairs are made from seven layers of maple glued together. We lacquer and seal all of them, so they’re both water and UV-resistant. We’ve explored potentially doing some other woods, finishes, and stains. But for now, customers can choose the colors on the aluminum brackets on the back.
What is your favorite part of the product?
I’m super proud that it’s built locally and guaranteed for life. I love showing people how you take it apart and just drop the seat right in the back because it’s magnetic. That just blows their minds. When you think of typical outdoor furniture like Adirondack chairs, they’re just so big, heavy, and bulky. This is the exact opposite.
How did you come up with the name Trippy Outdoor?
Myself and Robby Whites, who’s one of our other partners, were just chatting on the phone one day, throwing names back and forth. I said, “What about Trippy?” and we both kind of paused for a second. We were like, “No actually, that sounds great. That could be cool.”
We knew from there we could do something so fun. You bring in the art element. You make it really colorful. Part of what we wanted it to be from the beginning was this element of fun and art and expression, and so we thought Trippy would be awesome for that.
Now we try to embody that in everything. The chair is one thing, but we’ll have future product lines. We always want everything to be unique enough and different enough where people say, “Wow, that’s kinda trippy,” and then combine that with the fun, colorful, artistic vibes.
The packaging is so cool. Who designs it?
All of our boxes are basically four-sided murals of these really cool illustrated landscapes. We try to do that as much as we can. We have a really talented graphic designer and all-over creative person on our staff, Shane Dawson. He designed the packaging, the flyers, the website, and anything that you see that has to do with graphic design or illustration.
In the future, we would love to expand that beyond and do different collaborations with local artists. We just bought this graphic printer where we could print high-resolution graphics on the chair — like the ones on a skateboard deck. We could collaborate with local artists, mural artists, or tattoo artists, and we could print the designs onto the chair. Right now, we are testing with the printer and exploring potential brand licensing.
Since the chairs are so mobile, do you have a favorite place to take them?
The medium-sized chair actually fits in an overhead bin on an airplane. We went on a camping trip in California and I took my chair. I take them to the beach. It settles right into the top of the sand and is sturdy.
My partner’s kids love going to the skate park, so they’ll take them over there. Kids will kind of geek out because they look like a skateboard.
What are your long-term goals for Trippy Outdoor?
We have ambitious goals to continue to launch other product lines beyond just the chair. We just want to have fun with it and continue this really lighthearted, artistic expression. We felt like there’s so much you can do there in terms of fostering a community around your brand and then continuing to launch quality items that let people have fun outside.
We’d love to grow. We’d love to employ hundreds of people. We have long-term ambitions around becoming a recognizable brand like Yeti, or a local example like Solo Stove.
How do you think that Trippy Outdoor products contribute to a healthier, more sustainable Fort Worth and beyond?
One thing that was so fun about the festival was just meeting the community. When we told them, “Hey, we’re building this stuff here in town,” you can just see that people are excited. It’s fun because we’ve created jobs. We have nine people now on staff that are residents of Fort Worth, and hopefully, that will continue to grow as we see some success.
Beyond that, the chair is made of maple wood, which is sourced in the northern US. If we were to manufacture them in another country, we would have to send the raw logs overseas. They process it, cut it into veneers, glue it up and send it back. You’re sending these freight boats back and forth. Instead, we get it straight to Texas and build it ourselves, which is less CO2 emissions for the environment. That was a little bit eye-opening for me, honestly, understanding the supply chains that go into manufacturing products.
That’s so exciting. We loved seeing you at the Main Street Arts Festival a few weeks ago. Will there be other events soon where people can find Trippy chairs?
It was our first big event, and it definitely gave us a bunch of energy. It was so fun just talking to people and hearing feedback. It was a blast and we’re actually going to do another show next weekend, Art in the Square in Southlake. We’ll announce other events on our Instagram.
Right now, everything is available online, but we are working with local retailers to have them in stores soon. We met local entrepreneurs, other event runners, retailers, and cool little local businesses that were interested in carrying us. Forging those relationships and understanding that we’re going to be able to work with all of these different groups around the community — whether it’s a concert series, a backyard retailer, or a gardening shop — there are ways for us to support one another.