ThermApparel empowers people to take back control of their lives. Our mission is to provide our customers with cooling products that embody dignity and comfort while safely mitigating their risk from heat. We utilize cutting-edge science that improves the quality of our customers' lives allowing them to be happier and healthier. It's our vision to get people back to life’s small pleasures like backyard BBQs, graduations, sports, and hobbies. All the things that make life great, because Now You Can.
How ThermApparel Began
It was a simple insight that led to the creation of ThermApparel and the UnderCool Cooling Vest. As industrial design graduate students at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, Kurtis Kracke and Brad Dunn participated in an access technology initiative with the Rochester chapter of the National MS Society.
Poor attendance at a hot July meeting revealed that people living with MS are very constrained in hot weather due to their heat sensitivity. To Brad and Kurtis this was a challenge to which they could apply their design talents and they started investigating.
It quickly became apparent that while there are cooling products on the market, none of them meet the critical criteria for people with heat sensitivity caused by health conditions – concealable, lightweight, and comfortable. After more than 200 customer discovery interviews, and more than 50 prototypes, the Undercool Cooling Vest was born.
With its concealable, lightweight, and comfortable design, UnderCool empowers people to get back outdoors, safely exercise, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Our customers tell us "Now I Can exercise, spend time with my grandchildren, mow the lawn" and more. They can get back to living life normally and enjoying simple pleasures. Life with UnderCool is “like living life pre-MS”.
After that meeting, ThermApparel’s mission was born. We decided that no one should be stuck indoors all summer and kept from living a happy, healthy life full of fun, family, exercise, adventure, and dignity. ThermApparel’s products have made life-changing differences for people around the world (all 50 states and 20+ countries and counting)! Today, Kurtis and Brad continue to use their creative design skills and input from their wide base of involved customers to conceive new cooling products.
ThermApparel is first and foremost its customers, but three people stand behind the name day in and day out: Kurtis Kracke (CEO), Brad Dunn (COO), and Julia Unruh-Kracke (CCO). Brad and Kurtis both function as one brain most days. Who knows who's the left side or right side: it’s just bad if one of them is at the office without the other. Julia brings perspective and heart to the company with the ability to communicate and empathize with others. We are obsessed with treating people with dignity and having fun.
Kurtis is the designer and creator of UnderCool. He believes deeply that the combination of creativity and compassion is the greatest leverage we have as humans in the challenges we face. Being dyslexic and having a rare disease has allowed Kurtis to understand this principle and the needs of ThermApparel’s customers. Before ThermApparel, he had an extensive career as a successful entrepreneur starting 3 businesses. For the past 20+ years, he has balanced his creative and business skills by working in the photography, design, and advertising industries working with retail, museums, and Fortune 500 companies. He is the risk-taker of the group that loves going fast, whether skiing or driving go-karts on a race track. He also enjoys bbqing, grilling, and stand-up comedy but hopefully not at the same time. He is “pun”ishing to work with because of his bad puns and worse “Dad” jokes. When he is around laughter is not far behind.
Brad is the designer and creator of UnderCool. One part eclectic music aficionado, one part statistician, one part builder, two parts designer, and three parts listener. His goal is to make great things, not because he wants them, but because others need them. He uses a wide array of experiences in sports, construction, cooking, and teaching to frame problems and find solutions. Formal training in architecture and industrial design affords him the ability to streamline both the design process and its final production. He has a personal family connection to MS and his previous work on medical products led to the start of ThermApparel. Around the office, he is the daily DJ with his Spotify account, always has a glass of iced tea handy, and has a taste for chicken pot pies.
Julia came to ThermApparel through a long career as a photographer. She cut her teeth in high-pressure situations by photographing weddings, events, and small babies. Her immense empathy for helping people get through the stress and difficult times helps our customers, Kurtis and Brad, and anyone else who happens to come to the office. Her own healthcare experiences make her the perfect fit to talk with our customers on a day-to-day basis. To know Julia is to know her kitties, one of which is a three-legged cat. Julia loves gardening and has the uncompromising ability to always see a good perspective on whatever happens.