This interview was conducted by /u/skiwithpete.
KappaKapps is an artisan key maker for the keyboard community. It’s actually two guys, who work on KappaKapps together - they go by KappaKappsLogistics & KappaKappsKeyboards. If that’s a little confusing - it’s only the beginning - IRL their first names are same and their last names are just one letter different! Soon enough you’ll get over it, like I did, because they’re like twins; each answering each other’s questions and finishing each other’s sentences. It was more like talking with a friendly version of the Borg than two individuals. And, I get the sense that they’re really smart dudes, with a clear vision for KappaKapps. I hope you enjoy.
skiwithpete: Thanks guys, do you want to introduce yourselves?
KappaKappsLogistics: Hi, I’m /u/KappaKappsLogistics
KappaKappsKeyboards: Hi, I’m /u/KappaKappsKeyboards
skiwithpete: Awesome, let’s kick things off.
KappaKappsKeyboards: Sounds good.
skiwithpete: Thanks for agreeing to be on r/mechmarket as part of the Artisan Corner a monthly segment on makers/artisans/and big players in the Mechanical Keyboard community. What do you describe yourself as in the community?
KappaKappsKeyboards: Hi! We’re KappaKapps, and we make artisan keycaps and do vendor services for various keysets. All of our profits go to charity, and for the months of May and June, we’re donating to Extra Life. We believe in supplying everyone with the keyboard accessories they want-so we make sure to always have Kapps in stock. We also want to help the community with getting keysets that have large MOQ, and we have some GMK keysets in the works.
skiwithpete: Is that the longterm plan to have everything go to charity? Or is that just while you’re starting out?
KappaKappsLogistics: I, /u/KappaKappsLogistics, am the charity coordinator so I’ll answer this one. We plan to have our profits go to charity in the long term. We are also looking to expand to a larger range of charities, and allowing the community to choose the charity of the month.
skiwithpete: Wow, that’s awesome.
skiwithpete: Ok, before I get too deep into KappaKapps, let me ask you guys some keyboard related questions… What are you guys rocking right now? And what’s your collection?
KappaKappsLogistics: Right now I’m still into the Pok3r with MX Clears. My collection currently includes the Ducky Shine 3 with mx reds, the Azio Levetron Clicker with White ALPS, and the monoprice TKL (before it was discontinued) with MX Blues.
KappaKappsKeyboards: I’m currently rocking an old Cherry G80-3000 and a G80-3700HAU, but I just ordered a Carbon Fiber 60% case and I’m going to make a custom keyboard with that. I have a few other keyboards in my collection, a Model F XT, a Realforce 87, and an Apple Alps keyboard, mainly to try out other switch types and to test out some non MX Kapps in the works.
skiwithpete: I was looking at the Carbon Fiber 60% for ages. I just never pulled the trigger on it. I should have.
KappaKappsKeyboards: It’s a little pricer than I expected, but will be a solid first custom for me.
skiwithpete: When did you buy your first mech? Did you discover the community and then boards or the boards then the community?
KappaKappsLogistics: Both at the same time. I always knew there was some community around mechanical keyboards, but the presence of the gaming community definitely had a stronger influence on me (this was around the early SC2 era), and I decided to get a Razer Blackwidow. I started browsing GeekHack and /r/mechanicalkeyboards (the real communities) in 2013. (Had to look at the calendar for this one haha)
KappaKappsKeyboards: I bought my first mech shortly after discovering Reddit and /r/mk a year or two ago, I think the summer of 2013? Not exactly sure, its been a long time. I discovered the community, read the wikis, researched all the different places to buy keyboards, and pulled the trigger on a Cherry keyboard off of eBay.
skiwithpete: I’m an original SC player myself (probably shows how old I am).
KappaKappsLogistics: Broodwar or even before?
skiwithpete: I didn’t like Broodwar - I felt like they’d destroyed the purity of the game; which had already achieved perfection
KappaKappsLogistics: I loved SC2, very good game that pushed mastery. Primarily the reason I got into mechanical keyboards too.
KappaKappsKeyboards: I’ll let you two talk about SC, I’m mainly a FPS person.
skiwithpete: Rogue Spear was my FPS of choice, but I feel like that’s saying I was in to Pong, maybe I’ll stick to the Mechanical Keyboard questions…
KappaKappsKeyboards: I’m more of a counter strike player myself, but I love playing all sorts of FPS games
skiwithpete: I love and hate this question, but I feel I need to ask it: WPM? Style?
KappaKappsLogistics: Style as in QWERTY?
skiwithpete: Style: I’m like a modified touch typist… just checking if you’re by the book touch or employ some other style - but yeah, I assumed Qwerty… if you’re on Colemak tell me
KappaKappsLogistics: My WPM ranges from like 100-150, depending on how careful I’m paying attention to spelling/grammar. I’m also a touch typist. Touch typing makes blank caps a possibility :P
KappaKappsKeyboards: Haven’t checked in a while, but the fastest I used to be was 120WPM. It may have gotten down recently, as I’ve been trying out some new wrist rests that I still need to get used to. I started off looking at the keyboard, but now I touch type. I’ve been looking at colemak as an alternative, as I have a few bad habits from over the years, but I’m down to 40WPM on it :/
skiwithpete: Nerd or geek?
KappaKappsLogistics: Hard question, I’d say geek for me.
KappaKappsKeyboards: Hard question too, but I’ll have to go with nerd, I love physics and math
skiwithpete: ok tell me about KappaKapps… First, let me ask, what are your roles?
KappaKappsLogistics: Sure, so I handle more of the business strategy, charity coordination, and prototyping/quality-control.
KappaKappsKeyboards: We do pretty similar roles at the company, but I do a little more of the designing and technical specifications for the keycaps.
KappaKappsLogistics: We try to involve each other with all decisions so there aren’t any conflicts on the executive side that may affect our supporters.
skiwithpete: How did you guys meet?
KappaKappsKeyboards: We met over the summer at a camp, and we soon found out that we both liked mechs, so we started talking. But it wasn’t until late 2014 that we saw that there wasn’t a good supply of artisan keycaps, so we decided to start KappaKapps.
skiwithpete: Let’s talk about your artisan keycaps, what techniques do you use to make them?
KappaKappsLogistics: I’ll talk about the 3D side and let W take the resin process
KappaKappsLogistics: We design them in 3D software, like 123D. This is somewhat of an elaborate process depending on the complexity of the design. From there we prototype it on a 3D printer to see if we need to make any changes. For our Undead Clackin’ we use a SLS printer to get the best quality for our Kapps, and then apply one of our finishes to the Kapp. For one of our future line ups, we plan to use an FDM printer because the design is a bit simpler, but we will maintain quality with our finishing process: Sandpaper and chemical treatment.
KappaKappsKeyboards: We’re currently working with someone for high quality resin casting, so expect those in the coming weeks. The process is pretty complicated, first we 3D print the masters in a special SLA plastic for extremely high detail. Then our resin caster makes production masters out of those masters, and makes a big mold out of those. Its a time intensive and expensive process, but we hope the end product will be very good quality and enjoyed by many. We’re also doing limited runs of metal Kapps, we’re prototyping topre and alps Skullio in steel, with aluminum and some other materials in the near future.
skiwithpete: So you guys really are a team that builds together.
KappaKappsLogistics: I gue..
KappaKappsKeyboards: …ss so
skiwithpete: Who are your keycap / artisan heroes in the mech world?
KappaKappsKeyboards: I love the work that other artisan makers have done, but I want to make something different. We worked with some other designers in Europe and Asia, and together we made UnDead Clackin and Skullio.
KappaKappsLogistics: I guess Click Clack, it’s hard to say because we are trying to do something a bit different from everyone else.
KappaKappsKeyboards: I like Click Clack’s work because he was one of the first artisan keycap makers, and he really paved the road for artisan caps now.
KappaKappsKeyboards: The one thing I’m not fond of is the exclusivity behind his caps, which is why we decided to make sure to always have Kapps in stock. I have a love hate relationship with limited edition stuff, so some designs and materials are limited edition such as Skullio in steel
skiwithpete: where do you guys take your inspiration from for your keycap designs?
KappaKappsKeyboards: Our inspirations come from pop culture and history, with emphasis on Greek and Egyptian culture.
skiwithpete: What are your long term goals for KappaKapps?
KappaKappsLogistics: Our long term goals are to continue to create unique artisan Kapps (not copies), having new designs, and expanding our vending with more keyboard supplies and accessories.
skiwithpete: Have you got anything just around the corner that you can / can’t tell us about?
KappaKappsLogistics: Game of Clacks: A Click of Kapps and Board - really that’s all I can say haha
KappaKappsLogistics: Also the Skullio design which we will be offering in limited edition on metal. :)
KappaKappsKeyboards: Some other designs are on our google+ page, those are being saved for later while we fix some details.
skiwithpete: Where did the name KappaKapps come from?
KappaKappsKeyboards: I like Greek culture, and the Greek letter Kappa is one of my favorites. As I was thinking about names, I slowly decided on KappaKapps since there is only one letter difference between Kappa and Kapps and it slid of the tongue very well.
KappaKappsLogistics: Also, twitch.tv chat would always use Kappa. Because we are both gamers(and use twitch.tv) we decided it would be pretty cool if we did something with that for our name .
skiwithpete: Tell me more about the gaming side of this. As I’m kinda a redditor I feel like there’s a whole world out there I’m missing
KappaKappsKeyboards: We casually watch people stream games on twitch.tv, and the chat on twitch can sometimes become very satirical. So when people say something sarcastically, they often end it with Kappa, which corresponds to an emote of a twitch employee with a smug look on his face. Its an interesting part of something we spend our free time on.
skiwithpete: Is that a community that you also engage with as KappaKapps?
KappaKappsLogistics: Yeah, maybe in the future. We are looking forward to sponsor video game streamers on twitch.tv… One of the things that might be controversial here is that sponsoring streamers would lead to advertising costs. We hope to make these as transparent as possible without damaging our sponsorship. However, we can promise you that we will not be like Susan G. Komen and blow 90% of the charity money on advertising.
skiwithpete: Tell me about your involvement with the reddit the community
KappaKappsLogistics: Obviously, as a vendor, we want to advertise our site. However, it’s not very good content if we just spam /r/mk with images involving our site. Thus we try to help out the community, generate reviews, guides, and answer questions. Allowing for a balance of content and spreading our word.
KappaKappsLogistics: Oh, I almost forgot to mention we are also launching a subreddit: /r/kappakapps mainly for weekly updates so we don’t have to fill /r/mk or /r/mm
skiwithpete: and what about r/mechmarket?
KappaKappsLogistics: For /r/mechmarket we try to keep text posts to a minimum. For example, we will only publish a text post when we have a new product line up. If we do see someone that wants artisans, we will link our site.
KappaKappsKeyboards: Also interest checks for various Kapps such as Skullio and keysets such as GMK Cyrillic
skiwithpete: What do you foresee happening in the Mechanical Keyboard community over the coming years?
KappaKappsKeyboards: I foresee a bigger shift to mechanical keyboards as more people find out about mechanical keyboards for programming, typing, and gaming. I think that as more people start using mechs, there will be a bigger demand for keycaps and keysets, and we plan to be prepared.
skiwithpete: Do you guys have a nemesis?
KappaKappsKeyboards: give my partner a second, he’s finding a gif ;)
KappaKappsLogistics: There’s another redditor that does a lot of the same stuff that we do… this gif is super relevant: https://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/638/626/5c6.gif
**skiwithpete: What’s the motivation for donating profits to charity? Is there a personal link to the cause? Or just makes you guys feel good about something? Or is it just an evil capitalist plan? **
KappaKappsLogistics: We want to help people in need. There are a lot of gaming specific charities, like Extra Life, and “vehicles” to get money to charities, like humble bundle, we wanted to start something like that. It’s also a good business experience with CAD design and 3D printing. We hope to publish receipts of all our donations, but as previously mentioned we do need to withhold some information because we aren’t alone in this industry.
KappaKappsKeyboards: Also we’re going to post pictures of all the Kapps we sold and the total donation amount to reddit at the end of the month, unfortunately PayPal holds our money for 21 days before we can send the funds to charity.
skiwithpete: Do you have advice for other artisans thinking of starting out? Whether keycap makers or otherwise?
KappaKappsLogistics: It’s important to not copy and have your own unique designs. Copying other designs or making knock offs can be a touchy subject. Especially in terms of artistic ethics.
KappaKappsKeyboards: Be creative, and don’t copy other people.
KappaKappsLogistics: It is ARTisan for a reason!
skiwithpete: Well guys, you come across as two very bright dudes, doing some good work for a good cause so it’s easy for us to wish you all the best going forward. Is there anything you want to add?
KappaKappsKeyboards: Thanks to the reddit for sticking with us!
skiwithpete: :) Thanks guys, that was fun - my first three-way
KappaKappsKeyboards: bow chika bow wow
About the interviewer:
/u/skiwithpete is a regular on /r/mechmarket having bought and sold many boards, keysets and artisan products through the forum. He’s also one half of artisan sleeve makers https://1upkeyboards.com with his wife Stephanie.
Mildly Edited on an SSK