He’s the guy behind many of the t-shirts and uniforms of the American Barefoot Club and the USA Barefoot Team. But Ken Reynolds has a secret past.
This hard-core Wisconsin Barefooter once followed the Rolling Stones across the country.
Yup, the mild-mannered, Midwestern husband, father and high school coach is basically a ROCK STAR… but we knew that already!
Before we get to the story about ink, cotton and rock and roll… Let’s talk about the creative genius who keeps USA Barefooters looking good.
Father, Wrestling Coach, Footer
Ken is a husband and a father of two… and a “father figure” to hundreds of young athletes as the wrestling coach at Elkhorn High School in Wisconsin.
He’s been a coach for more than 40 years and has even had a former wrestler go on to the USA Olympic Team.
“I feel like I am always a coach. I coach my kids, I coach my employees… I feel like I am changing lives when I coach… it is one of the gratifying things you can do in life,” says Ken.
Ken grew up in Chicago and water skiing with his family on Lauderdale Lakes in Southeastern Wisconsin. But when he learned to barefoot, that was all over.
“I stepped off a kneeboard at 14-years-old and just loved it. I just love being on my feet. I haven’t touched a ski in years,” says Ken.
Ken barefooted for years before he met Keith St.Onge at Footstock and decided he was ready to take his barefooting to the next level. Ken had finally found a coach of his own.
“When I met Keith and I felt like this is a guy I would love to barefoot with and I started going to Florida to train at the World Barefoot Center,” says Ken.
“Keith has made me believe in myself and has helped my self confidence, not only with skiing, but in life.”
Ken says he considers the line step, his “biggest” barefoot accomplishment so far.
“Doing the line step made me feel pretty good,” says Ken. “It seems as every time I ski, I do something I never thought I could.”
Ken continues to advance in his barefooting and killed it at the 2019 Barefoot Nationals.
“King of Merch” in the Barefoot World
Ken is also the owner and founder of Overwear Apparel which has supplied thousands of t-shirts to barefooters for several years.
Ken designed the Team USA Gear for the 2016, 2018 and 2020 World Championships and has some incredible things available for the 2020 U.S. Barefoot Nationals and you can buy them now online here.
Ken the won the Barefoot Nationals Medal Design contest we held on Facebook in February 2019. Eight designs were submitted, and he won.
And then in true Ken Style he donated his $100 prize to the USA Barefoot Team!
Key chains, koozies, backpacks and more… if it says American Barefoot Club, Ken has probably designed it, printed it and sent it out!
“I love the Barefoot Community and all it has done for me in the short time I have been involved,” says Ken.
And so he keeps giving back.
Ken also supplies ABC Barefoot Examiners with barefoot badges often at cost. Making Overwear Apparel the barefoot water ski merchandise headquarters.
Ken meets Mick Jagger and The Stones
Ken did screen printing as a side hustle in college. He was doing t-shirts for everyone from sororities to sports. It ended up paying his way through school at University of Wisconsin -Whitewater.
“Part of the reason it took me so long to get done with college is that I was running a full-fledged t-shirt business,” says Ken
In 1989, The Rolling Stones were making a stop at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin and Ken was contracted to make a ton of shirts for Alpine Valley Music Theatre. The Stones were scheduled to do four shows as part of their Steel Wheels Tour when Ken’s phone starts ringing.
“I got an order for you!!! 300 sweat shirts for the Rolling Stones road crew,” said the manager at Alpine Valley, “Get down here!”
Ken answered the call, he met with Mick Jagger and the band and that order for 300 sweatshirts turned into an experience of a lifetime.
Ken basically became Mick Jagger’s personal t-shirt designer for the entire Steel Wheels Tour. Not the merchandise sold at the concert, but the things Mick wanted to give his band and crew… from polo shirts to hoodies to t-shirts and more.
“We even made some “bad ass” robes for the band and crew to wear after the concert when they took showers,” says Ken.
Ken would deliver Mick’s requests to the concerts personally, often having dinner with Mick and going back stage at concerts
“It was a phenomenal experience, everyone was so nice. Mick and even Keith Richards were so interested in what I was doing and really made a 22-year-old kid’s summer pretty incredible,” says Ken.
From Mick to Mike and The Last Dance
The recent ESPN Mini-Series “The Last Dance” brought back memories for all of us… but Ken also had a role in the Bulls 6th NBA Championship.
“Our Company printed 35,000 shirts for the Bulls 6th Championship. It was another really cool experience.That was a small slice of what was totally printed as they printed several million shirts,” says Ken.
Ken says he was lucky to be part of the that incredible season.
The #BarefootNation is lucky Ken is part of every one of our seasons!
Somehow always puts up with us & comes through no matter how we screw up. Quality product with a smile & a nice guy
This is probably some of the nicest things ever said about me, I am truly humbled.
Betsy Gilman and Lauren St. Onge have really pushed me out there to the Barefoot Community. Thanks so much for all the support and love! Ski on peeps!