Manuel Rappard is an entrepreneur who’s been passionate about quality and innovation for as long as he can remember. His love of clothing also started at a young age - he got his first pair of Diesel jeans when he was only twelve! Now he’s the founder of RPMWEST, making versatile products that last a lifetime.
Ideas for new and interesting businesses were always a part of Manuel’s life. While in college, he started a venture with his sister called “Dear Tommy.” They had people write letters to a teddy bear and then turn them into t-shirts. While it didn’t exactly take off, the company gave Manuel his first taste of running a small clothing operation and showed him how rewarding it could be to start a business from the ground up.
Growing up in Germany, Manuel was always on the move. His family moved frequently, and whenever they did, he was exposed to amazing new people and places. He continued broadening his horizons in his teens, when he moved to the U.S. Manuel finished high school in Michigan and attended both Michigan State University and New York University. After graduating, he helped a friend start a TV show that eventually aired on forty-two ABC affiliates around the country. When he left the show, Manuel settled in San Francisco and landed a job at Google.
But Manuel’s not the kind of guy who plays it safe and hopes for the best – he jumps in and commits. After a few years at Google, he and his business partner left their lucrative jobs, cashed in their 401ks, and risked everything they had to build a local product search engine. Even though they were sleeping on air mattresses and surviving on just a few dollars a day, they were pursuing their dream.
After nine months, Manuel needed an income, so he took a job as an assistant for a San Francisco clothing boutique. He flew to tradeshows around the country looking at menswear, picking out the best styles and bringing them back to sell in the shop. However, Manuel saw a problem with this sales model: there were too many middlemen and the profit margins were far too high. The way he saw it, if he could get quality clothes direct from the manufacturer to the customer, he could drastically reduce the price without sacrificing quality. It was this realization, combined with his lifelong passion for simple, high-quality menswear, that led him to create his first pair of jeans.
Not long after, RPMWEST was born. The company’s grown a lot since its founding and Manuel is still looking for new challenges and great people to connect with. For Manuel, “good enough” is never good enough. He strives for perfection in everything that he does, and he’s always working to make his company the best it can be. His story’s far from over, though, so stay tuned to see what’s next.