Building a house out of shipping containers and other adventures of one alumnus
Kicker Kalozdi ’08, B.A. Communication
by Mary Denny
Kicker Kalozdi will be the first to tell you: “There is a story about everything regarding me.” Big grin, wink: “Some true, some not so true.”
It is true that he is a successful businessman/entrepreneur. He oversees marketing and manages sales reps for his family business, New Orleans–based Kalencom Corporation, which manufactures and markets infant accessories. He also started and controls DamnDog, a subsidiary line of distinctive, high-quality men’s bags inspired by ideas and designs he’s picked up from world travels. He loves the fact that DamnDog lets him have more fun and humorously market products while benefiting local animal shelters with a percentage of sales. “It also gives me the opportunity to legitimately work with my damn dog, Chewie, a grumpy eight-pound fur ball who goes everywhere with me and is my sales associate,” Kalozdi laughs.
It is also true he lives in a home built from metal shipping containers. Inspired by one he saw driving down a street one day—and undaunted by the fact that he had never built anything other than props and scenery for Trinity University’s theatre department—Kicker decided to build his dream home from seven 8’x40’ shipping containers. The finished structure, which he designed and completed without a contractor, stands three stories tall with the containers staggered to provide maximum rooftop deck space. He also plans to add a two-story slide and trampoline combo, complete with laser-tag arena, just for fun. “We’re poetically marrying the industrial nature of the Irish Channel district with the residential future,” he beams, proudly noting the house is one of a very few with views of both the Mississippi River and the Superdome.
Last fall, producers of the web-based media empire Apartment Therapy filmed an entire episode at what Kicker has dubbed the KAN house. He was delighted to discover that one of the camera men was not only another Trinity alumnus, but also one he recognized immediately: Emmett Craykett Canasta, who filmed Kicker for TigerTV during their Trinity years.
There’s no doubt Kicker loves to travel. “Adventure is my fuel,” he exclaims. Lest anyone think he exaggerates, “travel well” is literally tattooed on his arm. More than normal sightseeing, Kicker’s travels are about “doing something there.” Things like a hut-to-hut hike through lava fields and wilderness in Iceland, for example, or his recent honeymoon trek along a remote 2,000-year-old pilgrimage trail in Japan. Wife Anne shares Kicker’s love of adventure travel and happily deals with numerous snakes, slippery stone trails, and challenging transportation options along the way. “We search out the ‘epic,’ explains Kicker, “and then fully embrace the fact that we may get uncomfortable or have to deal with complications.” While professing to “loving every minute” of such trips, the payoff is “legit bragging rights” along with countless stories to entertain their many friends.
Amazingly, two thriving businesses, home building from scratch, and rigorous adventure travel are not enough to keep Kicker busy. Having an off-the-charts energy level, Kicker and Anne just finished an intense season filled with obstacle races as well as their first marathon. Their 2019 calendar is already peppered with a number of races and hiking trips while they seek out a technical mountain climb and possibly an ultra marathon. As Kicker says, “There’s always something.”
Ironically, Kicker wasn’t always so gregarious. He arrived at Trinity, drawn by the “awesome” prospect of eating TexMex food for four years, as “a timid guy who generally stayed in the background in social situations.” While standing in line to get his school ID, he noticed that everyone was awkwardly fidgeting and no one was talking. “From that moment on I said I was going to make friends and be more outgoing,” Kicker says. “I turned to the people behind me, introduced myself, and started talking. I have not shut up since!”
Kicker credits the Trinity environment and supportive faculty and staff with giving him the opportunity to develop into the “outgoing, dare I say charismatic, character I am today.” He became a campus personality hosting TigerTV’s “Not So Late Show” and co-hosting with Fletcher Rhodes another show on KRTU radio. He also was one of the founders of the Swashbucklers, an inclusive group that held social events such as midnight capture the flag and hosted giant Thanksgiving meals for those who could not go home for the holiday.
Kicker eschewed study abroad for fear of missing out on campus fun, but loved his classes with business professors Kim Robertson and Charlene Davis, who “seemed to know everything there was to know about marketing." He also fondly remembers communication professor Rob Huesca as “a lively and engrossing professor, even if he did verbalize to the class how he thought I dressed like a lumberjack thanks to my Patagonia vest worn over a well-worn flannel shirt and jeans.” He remains “damn proud” of his Trinity University Presidential Award of Excellence, which has an esteemed placed in his KAN house’s 18-foot shelving system in the entrance.
Self-described as “shamelessly self-promoting at any opportunity,” Kicker invites alumni to “hit [him] up for a discount on one of our beautiful, buffalo leather and waxed canvas bags or accessories from our DamnDog line.” (Visit www.DamnDogHQ.com and mention you went to Trinity.)
Oh, and about his name? When asked the derivation of “Kicker,” he likes to say with a straight face, "It’s ethnic,” then enjoys the dumbfounded look while the person tries to ascertain what ethnicity could possibly have a name like Kicker. Indeed, there is a story about it, but one he prefers to share at one of his many KAN house parties. Until your invitation arrives, “Kicker” must remain a mystery.
Kicker can be contacted at KICKER [at] DAMNDOGHQ.com.