Rogue Journeymen was founded in early 2016 by Chris Kelly, the owner of Topanga Creek Outpost which is an outdoor adventure bicycle shop that's been around since 1999. Rogue Journeymen's mantra The Spirit of Finding Your Own Way can be traced back to when Chris, who felt suffocated in Los Angeles and against all odds, escaped the urban sprawl by relocating the shop to Topanga in 2008 during the height of the recession. To further pursue his passion for adventure cycling and mountain biking, Chris decided to stop carrying the lucrative line of road bikes and urban bikes, and instead only focused on getting people out on adventures with bikepacking bikes, mountain bikes and touring gear. While being deeply immersed in Topanga's creative energy, Chris continued to find his way and ended up pursuing a new creative outlet outside the bike world.
People often ask what makes Topanga such a special place. Topanga is a mountain community on the outskirts of Los Angeles and is also deemed an artist enclave since the 1950's. It's been home to legendary musicians like Woodie Guthrie, Neil Young and Alice Cooper. In fact, the shop location was once the rehearsal studio for Jim Morrison and the Eagles. The creative vibe is felt everywhere and it inspired Chris to tear down the standard retail store slot walls and replace them with handmade display furniture, all crafted in-house. One day a friend of the shop Danny, a luthier by trade, dropped off a box of scrap and discarded guitar wood as fuel for the shop's potbelly stove. Fascinated by the interesting shapes of half-finished guitar necks, head stocks, and main bodies, Chris came up with the idea to craft tables out of them instead of burning them. The tables were so unique that they not only created an artisanal ambience, but also resonated the musical history of the shop.
To continue down the creative path, in 2015 Chris started working with leather material and set up a full leather workbench inside the bike shop. When Christmas came around he wanted to test the waters and made a batch of leather valet trays to sell as Christmas gifts, mainly to see if people were even interested in these time-consuming and handcrafted items in a world that's taken over by click-now-and-get-it-tomorrow reality. Turned out that people loved the valet trays. So much so that customers started to make requests for other leather goods. With that encouragement Chris along with his friend Andrew have stayed busy crafting items like belts, mason jar/coffee mug holder, key chains, bracelets, hatchet sheath and more.
Rogue Journeymen truly embodies the spirt of finding your own way. Stay tuned for the next chapter to come. Click here to visit the gallery.