Blood and Bolts, an up-and-coming apparel line based out of San Francisco, is the collaborative effort of owners Ben Bloom and Geoff Mahley. The company creates products that are durable and adaptable but also aesthetically pleasing. At its core, B&B is a tribute to California and a call for exploration.
“When I started the company, I really wanted to use it as an outlet to learn all these different creative fields,” says designer Bloom. “It’s been an amazing experience in that sense.” Bloom’s role lies in crafting the visuals, including B&B’s branding, clothing design, and beautiful outdoor photography. “I would have never expected it, but I’ve gotten so stoked on photography now that I have something legit to shoot,” he says.
The online shop currently features four collections – Birch, Maple, Spruce and Redwood – with shirts, sweatshirts and hats. These outdoor goods are designed for men, women and explorers alike. To see the clothes in action and fuel your own wanderlust, follow the B&B blog and Instagram.
Read on for my full interview with co-founder Bloom and a chance to win the t-shirt of your choice from the B&B shop…
When and how did the company come to be?
I started Blood & Bolts a little over a year ago. I was in design school at the time and wasn’t really content with what I was doing/learning in my classes. I wanted a more hands-on experience that involved a variety of mediums and clothing design was something I had always had an interest in. I had been really into skate/street wear my whole life, but I wanted to try something different which is where the outdoors came in. I had been raised going backpacking and camping, but I didn’t really associate with that because as a teenager that wasn’t “cool.” Besides a few brands, there wasn’t very much outdoor apparel that spoke to a younger crowd so that’s really what I wanted to do.
Who are the people behind Blood & Bolts?
Right now, the company only consists of myself and my partner Geoff. I handle all the creative stuff and he takes care of the business side of things. We both grew up together and share a big interest in the outdoors and the environment. Not to mention if I tried to do anything with numbers, I’d probably run the company into the ground.
Why the name Blood & Bolts? What does it mean to you?
Originally the name was about skateboarding. I didn’t really think too much of it, but other people gravitated towards it and eventually I settled on using it. Since then, I’ve heard so many awesome interpretations of “Blood & Bolts” that I never thought of. People have related it to working hard, rock climbing, the juxtaposition of urban culture and nature, and a ton more. Looking back, it might have been the best decision I made for this company and I didn’t even know it!
From the names of your collections to the company mission of embodying”the culture of activity and youth,” your brand seems greatly influenced by nature and spending time outdoors, what are favorite outdoor spaces to visit in California?
I grew up going up to Echo Lake and the Desolation Wilderness my whole life so that’s definitely a favorite for me. Other than that, I love Point Reyes because it’s so close to SF and it’s still pretty empty. The entire California Coast is pretty amazing for that matter. And Yosemite will always be a favorite.
What is one of your favorite products on the site right now and/or one product that is a favorite among customers?
Right now, I’m pretty stoked about our most recent collection of button-up shirts and hats. I really like the Chili-Pepper shirt, I just wish it was warm enough in SF so I could wear it!
What about Blood & Bolts products makes them ideal for travelers or outdoor explorers?
We definitely put a lot of work into getting everything made with quality. I know everyone says that, but we really spent time figuring out what shirts are the most comfortable, what material is the warmest for beanies, what fabric felt the most durable for the button ups, etc. As the company grows, we’ll be able to put a lot more focus on materials and creating technical apparel, but for now I think if you’re backpacking or hiking or doing anything outside, we’ve got some damn comfy stuff to accompany you! I just wouldn’t climb Everest in one of our sweatshirts or anything.
You’re a new company, what is one thing you’ve learned since starting this business that you would offer as advice to anyone else considering starting a business (or otherwise following their dreams)?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned (and still deal with) is do as much yourself as you can. Although there are always going to be awesome people around to help and contribute, if it’s your own company, you’re going to be the one that cares the most and the one that gets the most done. And don’t fucking give up! This has been a roller coaster of an experience, but at the end of every day, I’m always happy that I did it.
The B&B logo is a bison and the company’s catchphrase seems to be “born to roam,” why do you think it’s important to roam?
I think traveling is more important than anything else in life. The shit you experience traveling is more memorable and influential than anything you can do just sitting around at home. When you’re old and telling your grandkids about that amazing life you had, you’re not going to tell them about how you were employee of the year at some desk job. You’re going to tell them about the time you lived in Indonesia for three months and surfed until your arms fell off. Personally, I think it’s about breaking my comfort zone. Whether it’s surfing a new spot, hiking a new trail or just going somewhere you’ve never been. It puts you in a vulnerable position and forces you to adapt.
| T-SHIRT GIVEAWAY |
This giveaway is made possible by the cool folks at Blood and Bolts. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a t-shirt (see selection here) of your choice from the B&B shop. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted by email on Wednesday, Aug. 27. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.