Every year the snow and action sports industry is inundated with new brands. It’s the cycle of life in an industry that is ever changing. Some will be break out hits and others will fall by the wayside being remembered as only ‘that brand that did that thing’. At SIA in January I ran into Joel Kramer who used to run the snow goggle division for Dye. Much with most conversations on a trade show floor our chat was brief, but he told me that he was working on something big and would discuss it with me later on.
Flash forward to the middle of this summer and the soft launch of the new company Ovan Vision. This was the something big he was talking about. Today is their official launch. So read the interview below and see how you can get involved. Look for a review of their goggle dropping later this fall as well.
Who is behind Ovan?
Joel Kramer: Ovan is headed up by Bjorn Leines, Alex Lundqvist, Albee Layer, Joel Kramer, Mikko Huttunen and Roy Steinhart. So a mix of professional athletes, designers, a model, and some marketing guys. Each of us has a unique skill set that pairs well with the other guys. The rider support continues to build every week.
Where did you guys come from?
JK: For the most part we all came to meet each other from snowboarding and industry events. From New York city, to San Diego, to Finland, we’ve been friends for a while. Several of us came from Dye where we spent about 3.5 years working together. The other half of the crew are friends and trusted business partners that we have gotten to know over the years. Right now we are based out of San Diego, CA.
Where does the name Ovan come from?
JK: Ovan is a Swedish word that means an unspecified point above. Bjorn, Alex and 3 other founders all have some type of Scandinavian ancestry. The name blends our heritage with a higher consciousness to design, marketing, and sales.
What is setting you apart from other optic companies?
JK: Ovan is focused on quality, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.
Aside from being independently owned and operated by a passionate group of snowboarders, surfers and skateboarders, we building a different type of identity that is strong in action sports but not solely relying on board sports. Those are our roots, so ever important, but we also draw influence from so many other interesting people, fisherman, golfers, chefs, activists, craftsmen, artists, musicians, the list goes on…..We tell a story about all of these people and invite them all to be a part of our brand culture. This resonates as an authentic and organic way for us to generate content, explore new things that stoke us out, and connect with new customers.
Our signature product branding is unique, authentic, and instantly recognizable in a subtle artistic manner. We hate giant logos, and always knew we could improve upon what is already out there. Our signature mark has been a massive hit with our customers, and sets us apart in a crowd.
Lastly our EMS Polyamide lens is insane! It is a free-form construction which is completely optically correct for zero distortion, then we back that up with built in polarization and the two best coatings in the game. The result is the best lens you’ll ever look through. You’re able to instantly see the difference when you put it on.
Your products are eco-concious and the Magni goggle features a recycled polyetheyene frame. How important is it to the brand to balance environmental responsibility while not sacrificing the product or its quality by being green?
JK: Quality is first and foremost. We often feel like our biggest critics on the product and thankfully there are some great recycled plastics and biodegradable material now available. Since we’ve been around these materials for years we had knowledge of what eco-friendly materials are available and whats not. There is always room for improvement in the materials, however its very do-able to build an eco-friendly product that functions incredibly well, you just pay more for it. We pay more for the eco-friendly material, but believe it is important. Increasing efficiency in other areas allows us to keep the retail price very competitive.
After holding and trying on the goggle in your lineup I can safely say it’s one of the lightest frames to its size I’ve seen in years. How and why were you able to make this happen?
JK: The lightness is from the lower density of the recycled frame, its built to be more flexible for an improved fit. That is why it can be the same size as your old goggle, but definitely feels lighter in your hand or on the head.
Your Kickstarter campaign is live and in less than a day almost hit a third of its goal. To compare your campaign to other optical companies your goal is set more realistically. What was the reason behind this and was having a crowd funding campaign more of a marketing tool than an actual necessity?
JK: We’ve built a foundation for Ovan on realistic planning and preparing for the battles we know exist in this industry. Using crowd funding allows us to keep more of the brand in our hands so we are able to do things our way, and minimize the need for outside investment. That translates to our core group of employees and riders being very dedicated to our brand. On the crowd funding sites people want to be a part of a success, a realistic goal helps you strike that chord with the audience. The guys at Ovan know it take a few years to build a brand, patience, and persistence are necessary. Kickstarter is a catalyst for our launch. Reaching a big global audience and providing our customers with a great experience will raise demand and brand awareness helping us reach more goals down the road.
After your crowd funding campaign is over regardless if it is a success or not, where can people find your products to test out and buy for themselves?
JK: We will be found in the premiere snowboard, skate, and surf retail shops as well as some specialty optic stores. Product is also available on www.ovanvision.com and you can try or product at on-snow demos that we will announce on our social media pages.