It has been a crazy ride for Kamloops entrepreneur Leroy Connell.
Or, as it’s written on the back of his new line of hoodies and T-shirts: krazy — with a backwards k, that is.
With no formal training or artistic background, Connell is featured in a Mancave Playbabes — a Maxim-style magazine — and this week is travelling to California where he will hang out with Jay Leno.
Connell, Krazyboy to his friends, is steadily making inroads into the world of fashion. His focus is
biker, mixed martial arts and graffiti imagery that’s getting attention inside and outside the world of motorcycling.
The fashion journey started in the late 1990s, when the then-shipbuilding worker, whose tattooed arms are a testament to his biker roots, started to notice old jackets going for big money on eBay.
“I went to thrift shops and put them on eBay and they were selling like crazy.”
When supply in thrift shops dried up, Connell figured he could design jackets and other leather goods himself. Rampage Leathers was born in 1999.
Using friends and acquaintances, Connell sourced a manufacturer in Seattle, who put his drawings and designs onto leather garments. They ranged from leather motorcycle racing suits to “S&M kinky stuff.” But Connell wasn’t satisfied standing still with Rampage, where he estimates he sells about 5,000 items a year.
He intends to branch out into everyday clothes.
Witnessing the popularity of Ed Hardy and DC brands, Connell figured he could do exclusive a lot better.
That’s led to Krazyboy clothing, which is in its infancy.
“I wanted to come up with something more unique. There’s so many leather jackets mass produced.”
Thus far, he has produced T-shirts, hoodies, motorcycle jackets and “booty shorts” for women. A familiar, signature element is the phrase “get your krazy on.”
The key to Krazyboy is the limited number of each design.
“I thought, ‘I’ll make it unique.’ There’ll be one hundred of one style and that’s it.”
Krazyboy is a featured
element for the Love Ride, a huge fundraiser in Southern California for the USO (United Services Organizations), which raises money to entertain U.S. troops serving abroad.
The top 10 fundraisers for the one-day ride will each be given a Krazyboy leather riding jacket, with unique patches from the ride and embroidery with the rider’s name. While Krazyboy is all about exclusivity, the jackets are one-of-a-kind.
“It’s your jacket,” he said.
The connection to the ride came from late-night TV host Jay Leno, who is serving as the grand marshall. A Krazyboy jacket came into his hands and he sought out Connell’s work for the fundraiser. Leno and Peter Fonda — the original easyrider who is also taking part in the event — will also go home with Krazyboy on their backs.
While Connell works from home in Barnhartvale, sketching designs he sends to his manufacturer, his clothing is not readily available here. The nearest shop is Thunder Alley in Vernon, but he is working to get wider distribution, particularly in the U.S.
A big part of his efforts and success are in promotion. He sponsors mixed martial arts, auto racing and has branched out to create a local agency to use models who wear his clothing for contract marketing.
Connell is also plotting to get the Krazyboy signature on everything from baseball bats to soccer balls, using sponsorship to build the brand.
Connell is in California this week on the Love Ride. But he’ll be doing more than chatting up celebrities. He’s slated to meet with a major Harley-Davidson dealer, who will hear Connell’s ideas for a line of unique riding apparel.
“If I can get it into Harley shops, it could be something good.”