By Aaron Geerts
Express staff writer
The Warriors of Winters High School are as proud as they are ambitious, often moving on to accomplish great things. Cody Klimper is one such WHS alumni, who has traversed a bumpy career path that’s led him to become the owner of his own clothing business.
After graduating from WHS in 2010, Klimper headed down to Long Beach State. His first semester was dedicated to criminal justice, however, he quickly switched gears toward a career in kinesiology. He trudged through the coursework which required a vast — and overwhelming — amount of unpaid internship hours. Through working at a local gym, Klimper met the owner of a startup clothing brand called ‘Built,’ and was enthralled with a desire to join this company that combined his love of fitness and fashion.
“He eventually brought me on as a rep for the brand, and I kept bothering him to let me do more and more. One day, he finally gave me a project which was pulling in new brand ambassadors. That put me in charge of all our ambassador marketing which is what grew our company so much,” said Klimper. “At one point, we got all the way up to 200 reps and influencers. And at that point, we were getting momentum and my worry was if I don’t jump on this company now, someone else is going to take my spot. So, I quit college with one semester left and was also offered a raise and a new manager position at the gym next to where I lived. Instead of accepting, I told them I had to put in my two-week notice.”
Klimper gambled on his ambition and the young company began to grow — one, 80-hour week at a time. As time went on, Klimper said he saw his value to the company’s growth and realized he was not adequately accommodated for his efforts. After requesting a percentage of the company, the owner failed to satisfy his workhorse. That’s when Klimper decided it was time to move on and become a business owner himself.
“Once I quit, I had to decide what I was going to do. Either go back and work for someone else or start my own thing. After how much learned from that company from the inside out, I told myself I know I can do this,” said Klimper. “I fell in love with the apparel game, more than fitness in the long run, and I wanted to get into the back end of things because I love manual labor and working with my hands. But I basically started out consulting other people on how to get their apparel business started because I knew the ins and outs of how to get it done. Then I started ‘Klimp’s Embroidery’ which, looking back, wasn’t the way to go, but I was also helping people figure out how to get their clothing made in the LA area.”
Klimper continued to grind his way toward success in LA. An uphill battle, he says he learned from his mistakes and honed his craft until eventually, he was ready to transform Klimp’s Customs into a new brand. That’s when KYTU — his new clothing brand — was born which is an acronym derived from his dad’s saying, ‘Keep Your Tailgate Up.’
Through the tireless efforts and endless hours of work he’s put into his ambition, Klimper credits his hometown and WHS for instilling a steadfast work ethic and small-town social skills that yielded tons of connections in LA.
“I’ve always been super grateful for where I’m from. And I think having that small-town and ‘able-to-connect-with-people’ vibe is what got me so well-connected within the fitness industry. Working at the gym, I was never afraid to talk to people and ask how their day is going which sounds like it’s no big deal, but in southern California, nobody does that. I credit that aspect of me to Winters,” said Klimper. “The advice I’d give to current Winters Warriors is just going out into the world. Even if you have every intention of coming back, leave the area and do as much as you can. What I always tell people — as cliché as it sounds — go into every situation with an open mind, give it your full effort and see where it takes you. You have to utilize what you have here and realize networking and talking to people is what gets you far along with hard work. That’s what took me from criminal justice to fitness to what I’m doing now.”
To learn more about Klimper’s business venture, visit kytu.co or find examples of his craft on social media by searching @kytu_manufacturing on Instagram.
Where Are They Now is a new feature series where the Express puts a spotlight on a Winters alumni. The only requirement is that the interviewee is a graduate of a high school in Winters. If you would like to share your after-high school story, send an email to email@example.com.