Heard on the Hill

Rules Policy Director Leaves Capitol Hill to Run His Clothing Line

Kevin Hubbard started working with Rep. Pete Sessions in 2011

Kevin Hubbard shows off a Rhoback polo branded on the front with a dog logo. (Bian Elkhatib/ CQ Roll Call)

After years of balancing life as an entrepreneur and Capitol Hill staffer, House Rules Committee Policy Director Kevin Hubbard is leaving politics to run his clothing line.

“I’ve been kind of moonlighting, doing this at night and doing the Hill from 9 a.m. till midnight, or whenever the Rules Committee adjourns. And then I go home and I work on Rhoback, dealing with our manufacturers, dealing with our design team, working with my co-founders,” he said.

Rhoback is an activewear clothing line of men’s polos and hats that is quickly expanding its collection. The name comes from the Rhodesian ridgeback dog, because they “crave activity and they’re very competitive,” Hubbard said.

The company’s logo is a dog with two stripes, signifying the ridgeback.

Watch: Staffer Leaves the Hill for Activewear Startup

Hubbard and his two co-founders were inspired to start the brand after one stole a pair of the other’s orange pants and they chronicled it on an Instagram account, “Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.” Their bro-y adventures got the attention of retail brands, which soon started asking them to promote their pants.

“We were constantly sweating through everything that we were wearing and we thought, ‘You know what? There’s got to be a better way to have a stylish look but also wicking activewear,’” Hubbard said.

He then launched Rhoback with co-founders Matt and Kristina Loftus.

“You’ve got some brands that are focused on the gridiron and darker, gray colors. And some men’s brands are a little too feminine for some guys. We thought there was a hole in the marketplace for high-end, lifestyle activewear that looks good but also feels great,” Hubbard said.

His last day on Capitol Hill is Friday. After that, he’ll focus on the brand full time.

He started as an intern in 2011 in the office of Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, now the Rules Committee chairman, and worked his way up to legislative director. He moved over to be the committee’s policy director in 2016.

“For nearly a decade, Kevin was an instrumental part of my team. No matter the day, no matter the challenge, Kevin met everything with a smile on his face and a winning attitude. I have no doubt that he will approach his new business the same way,” Sessions said in a statement.

Hubbard has found a way to hold on to a piece of the Hill through the charity component of Rhoback. The company partners with American Humane’s Shelter to Service program, which rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to assist veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“When I first became a legislative assistant for Congressman Sessions, one of the first assignments he gave me was working on a bill he had to create a pilot program for veterans suffering from PTSD,” Hubbard said.

But leaving Capitol Hill is still bittersweet.

“There’s really no other place like it and the different viewpoints, ideologies, people from all over the country and the world. It’s just an incredible place to learn,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Gregory W. Meeks of New York wished Hubbard well in a statement. “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kevin, both as my constituent in the Rockaways, and as my neighbor next door in Rayburn,” Meeks said. “Mr. Hubbard is determined and sharp, and I have no doubt these qualities will bring him as much success in business as it did on the Hill.”

This summer Hubbard will be driving a camper up and down the East Coast to spread the brand. In the fall, he’ll take the camper out to the West Coast.

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