Alive & Kickin' — Dynamite Starfish Apparel is open!

April 30, 2015 3 min read

Hi! I hope your week has been amazing. My name is Leslie, and I’ll be filling the Dynamite Starfish blog with all kinds of fun stories and news from now on. Since we’re kicking off today, I’ll start with a little bit of history of how Dynamite Starfish came to be.

If you're not the reading type, here's a little nugget to take home:
Make art, get out often, and love the people around you.


Every time I hit a good point in life where it seems like it’s smooth sailing and good weather, I start thinking about all of the paths that must have crossed in order for that moment to happen. There are countless threads of tiny events and encounters that have amalgamated into memories bursting with detail. Those memories, joined together and projected into the future, are the most precious things we have. As humans we’ll accumulate things: plates and bowls to bicycles and cars; but all we get to keep are intermittent slivers of the shattering vision that everything is connected.

There are incalculable paths that have crossed for Dynamite Starfish to exist, from single track trails to international airways, but I’ll talk about two for now.


     I wasn’t born into a climbing family or alongside particularly active or outdoorsy friends. In fact, I was born severely underweight, shy and into a family of post-war trauma survivors. I started climbing in college, where my one goal in life was to get away from my high school home town. Some friends took me to a climbing gym in Costa Mesa, I fell in love. Classic story. But after that, I didn’t climb for almost a decade. I dedicated my life to practicing martial arts and studying biology until I couldn’t take it any more. I got sick while studying abroad in Australia, and that week I stopped studying biology in pursuit of something more fulfilling. I started studying art and design and took up a bunch of odd jobs. I rode dirt bikes through mountains and snowboarded almost every weekend. During the summers I backpacked. Climbing was always in the back of my mind, but I guess I just didn’t have the time or the right group of people to make it my life. After many years, I tagged along with a good friend who was climbing often, and now it’s just about the only thing I want to do. I've made some of the best memories and met some of the most interesting people while climbing, and I hope that continues for as long as possible.


     Now to rewind a little bit. I was a biology student in Perth, Australia. I was so sick I couldn’t focus on my orientation sessions, but I remember hearing that I’d have to take an extra class on top of my already heavy load of 7, all because I had never taken physics in my life. Oh, geez. Maybe I’ll go write about it, draw about it. My roommate at the time brought to my attention that I was writing and drawing much more than I was practicing biology. Maybe I should try out graphic design? Magically my paperwork got approved, and with no experience and a stack of doodles for a portfolio, I was in. At heart I was creative because I loved ideas and expression, but slowly I learned to put that part of me away and do client work. I moved back to Los Angeles. I interned at an award-winning design studio and worked my way up to being a full-time designer. I moved on to an award-winning digital ad agency. Something in my core still felt like it was missing. What happened to the art I wanted to make? What happened to creativity? I started making art in any way I knew how. I pursued small gallery shows and learned printmaking. I started to put my art and soul out there.

Combining climbing and art was the obvious choice as soon as I stumbled upon the idea. I’ve made art based on experiences for as long as I can remember, and believe that the most fulfilling way of life is one that allows you to do the things you love. With the experience I’ve gained from working at design studios, ad agencies and 16 other odd jobs, I’m working towards creating a business that reflects my passion for the things I love to do and serves the community I care about.

This might just be the longest blog post I write, but I’m glad you stayed with me. I hope you got to know what this business is about a little bit better.

Oh, and some news: We’re open! Shirts are available for Pre-order online. You should receive your shirt by June 1st, 2015.

Climbers, please talk to your local gym or outdoor retailer to see if Dynamite Starfish apparel is in stock.

Want to be a retail partner? Email for wholesale information.

Leslie Kim
Leslie Kim

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