Rapid ascent

Rapid ascent

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The Clymb president Kelly Dachtler
// by Jason Kaplan

BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Outdoor enthusiasts know what’s important. They drive a $1,500 car because the $9,000 bicycle strapped to the roof is their real ride. They would rather be skiing or boarding or hiking the backcountry and spending big bucks to do it, about $646 billion a year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. This devotion to an active lifestyle, and the expensive gear that goes with it, inspired president and co-founder Kelly Dachtler to create The Clymb. Launched in 2009, smack in the middle of an epic economic downturn, the members-only e-retailer has seen phenomenal growth. Dachtler wants it to become the next billion-dollar active-lifestyle brand.

Dreamed up around Dachtler’s dining room table with co-founder and mountain biking buddy Cec Annett, The Clymb buys overstock from more than 800 outdoor retailers like Merrell, Patagonia and Oakley. They email-blast limited-time offers to their 3.5 million members, who can pick up the gear at big discounts. The business model sounds familiar, but Dachtler bristles at any comparison to Groupon.

“Groupon is a transactional marketing platform,” he says. “We own and stand by the goods we buy.” An admitted introvert, Dachtler, 36, works from a glass-walled office in The Clymb’s Pearl District headquarters. He surrounds himself with artwork — such as a Peter Saville-designed skateboard deck — that inspires the former graphic designer.

Born in Wyoming and raised in Southern California, the tall, sturdy Dachtler grew up loving surfing, snowboarding and BMX biking. His entrepreneurial spirit bloomed early on with the launching of two apparel companies while still in high school. “It was mostly beachwear,” he says. “They didn’t go anywhere.”

Dachtler supported himself through his college years with freelance graphic design projects that grew so robust, he dropped out of school to pursue it full-time. He landed a dream client, apparel designer and personal inspiration Mossimo Giannulli, eventually taking a full time role in Giannulli’s company. He helped roll out Giannulli’s brand for Target before being named creative director for Juicy Couture. “I have no business-school background at all,” Dachtler admits. “I came to love the PnL [profits and loss statement] and the balance sheet out of necessity.” A quick study, he oversaw Juicy’s first national advertising campaign, the rollout of flagship retail stores and the licensing of a handful of different product categories.