It’s rare to see a new outerwear company that is designing high end technical outerwear for snowboarders. Sure you might see something from the ski side of things that crosses over into snowboarding. Homeschool Snowboarding hailing from the Pacific North West has aimed to change that with their inaugural outerwear offering for 2012. I was able to catch up with founder Danny Clancey and ask him a few questions about the brand and where they’re headed.
Angry Snowboarder: Can you give a little history and back story on how Homeschool Snowboarding came about for anyone that hasn’t heard about the brand just yet?
Danny Clancey: Homeschool snowboarding really came about from the idea of being able to create a product with fewer compromises. Working in design for larger brands I saw that the product as designed and what came to market was often vastly different and compromised in many ways. The name homeschool comes from the idea of doing for yourself what no one else can or will, and learning by doing. We have spent a long time getting this product dialed and spent 2 years wear testing. I think what we are putting out there achieves our goals of ultra breathability, durability and timeless style. Three things I as a longtime snowboarder I always look for.
AS: For your first year as a company how has snowboarding both from the industry side to the consumer side accepted you?
DC: People have been pretty stoked. I think if you see the product in person it speaks for itself. We didn’t throw this stuff together and just try to put something out there. Our stuff works here in the Northwest where it can be pretty gnarly. We’ve sold into some really top tier retailers in the Western U.S. and look forward to some growth as people get hip to what we are doing. We are the real deal and we aren’t owned or backed by anyone. We’ve done this ourselves with very little help, and come out with what I think is a killer product that I will put up against anything out there. When people hear our story they are generally really stoked..it’s been a long road and I think the industry needs small brands. Things have gotten stale with the big companies dominating.
AS: What inspired the super clean look and how do you plan to stand out from the rest of the pack with it?
DC: The clean look was really inspired by stuff I would want to wear. I grew up snowboarding in the heyday of the mid 90’s where stuff was kinda work-wear like but didn’t have the benefit of modern construction techniques and good fabric, so some of the inspiration is an update to that stuff. The rest is really just creating something with very little fluff. Our stuff isn’t a “costume”, It has to work in the Northwest. I think we stand out by not trying to stand out…we aren’t reinventing the wheel but at the same time adding something new to the conversation by bringing breathability to snowboarding. Our product is very breathable and waterproof but we say if you are only looking at waterproofness you are missing half the story. We are using an activated carbon particle called Cocona to enhance the breathability of all of our products and we are doing it top to bottom in baselayer, midlayer and shell. We are the first in the snowboard industry to use this product assortment and this technology together. Everyone that is wearing Homeschool is impressed at how well the shit performs. At the end of the day our product does the talking.
AS: > Can you go through the design process from start to finish when you’re building a piece for the line and how much tweaking typically happens from the final conceptual design to the actual finished product?
DC: A lot of the ideas I have for product are already there and I just sort of work on developing them. We aren’t really trying to reinvent the wheel more like dial in what we know works. We try and get out there as much as possible and that’s the best way to know if something is working or not. I like the idea of stuff being there when you need it and when you don’t, you don’t notice it. The product that is in stores now is 99.9 percent of what I started out with which was my goal. Working at bigger companies you see that there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” and what makes it to market is a watered down version of what you started with. I’ve always got my eyes open looking for things that speak to the brand and looks tough.
AS: > When you were designing the products and going through that two year development/wear testing phase where and how did the concept of using Cocona come from?
DC: The idea to use Cocona on our outerwear came really early on because it made perfect sense. Super breathability is a no- brainer especially here in the NW and it spoke to what we are trying to do. Create something that looks mean, holds up and has some proven technology behind it that holds up the the demands of the serious snowboarder and is dialed. Cocona really works, and we have the numbers to prove it and snowboarders know all about waterproofness but aren’t hip to breathability yet. It’s just as important as waterproofness. Making something waterproof is easy, making it waterproof and really breathable is hard. Garbage bags are waterproof. We were the first company I’m aware of to use Cocona Xcellerator technology but you will be seeing more of it as other brands come on board.
AS: > Sustainability has become a hot topic amongst every company in snowboarding. Cocona is obviously sustainable but what other green initiatives are you doing?
DC: Yeah that’s a good question. Making outerwear is inherently very non environmentally friendly but my take on that is if you make a better product and you think more about buying quality you buy less junk and it lasts longer. Our 3.5 layer product is 100% recycled poly. Not 5% not 10%.. 100 %. We are not claiming we are super green and we don’t have any “leaf” hang tags but if you buy something that lasts longer and works better you are dong more for the environment because you are creating much less waste.
AS: > Growth is always a tricky thing to master since launching at SIA this past January what have been your hardest challenges? Adding to that where do you see yourself positioned for the coming season?
DC: Being small is a challenge because we don’t have the resources the bigger brands have. But I believe many of the things that make this hard also give us an advantage. We listen to people, we ride, we talk to our retailers and if something needs to change we change it..simple. That doesn’t happen with bigger companies. We are the real deal and the product is good and it works. I believe that will eventually be the deciding factor on whether we make it or not. We don’t have a huge marketing budget so we rely on interviews like this to help get the message out. Our industry needs small brands and we appreciate the retailers that get that. We have been fortunate to get a lot of the best retailers in the west on board this first season and they get it. We hope it’s a sign of things to come but it’s been a long road to get here. We didn’t just shit out a product to get it out there.. and we hope people dig it. I think when people see our stuff and hear about what we are doing they will be stoked.