Ski fashion for snowboarders
Summit County CO, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” They may not have suits in their closets or framed business degrees hanging on the wall, but a group of local snowboarders are redefining business, and they are not apologizing for doing it their way.
Frustrated with the limited apparel choices for snowboarders, these local riders decided to do something about it.
“We didn’t feel there were enough quality products out there, and we couldn’t find anything we liked,” Breckenridge resident Ronnie Barr said. “So we decided to start a company, and two years ago we put out our first product line.”
Barr and six friends dubbed the new company CandyGrind, and after creating a simple but iconic lollipop logo, the crew started handing out stickers and spreading the word to other riders on the mountain.
CandyGrind now is distributing its line of gloves, hoodies, beanies and T-shirts internationally, and the group of friends is quickly watching their kitchen-table dreams come to life.
“None of us thought it would pick up this fast,” Barr said. “We’re all just ski bums, and now, now we’re starting to get recognized in this industry.”
CandyGrind is one of four locally-rooted companies starting to get noticed in the snowboard scene for a commitment to producing quality products that they themselves would want to buy, and they all say they are “in it for the love.”
“It’s all happening”
When Colorado native Dominic Rosacci graduated from high school early after his junior year, he knew he didn’t want to end up in a job where he would have to take direction from anyone.
Instead, he took matters into his own hands and started his own screen printing T-shirt business at the ripe old age of 16.
Rosacci dubbed the start-up Neovolt, which means “a new light”, and went to work creating clothing that represented the unique style of the snowboard and skateboard communities.
“It was like the demand was there, but there was nowhere to get it,” Rosacci said of clothing that actually appealed to snowboarders. “Word got out about what we were doing, and we expanded a couple years later.”
A mere four years after starting with just one T-shirt, Rosacci and his production manager, Jeremy Pummel, moved their operation into a warehouse just outside of Denver.
To save money, Rosacci lives in an upstairs corner of the warehouse, showering just up the street at the local recreation center and skateboarding his own mini-ramp in the middle of the production floor.
“I never had a mentor or anyone telling me how to do things,” Rosacci said. “I figured stuff out by messing things up first and doing them my own way. Now, it seems like it’s all happening.”
Neovolt clothing is distributed in boardshops throughout Colorado, California and Utah, and although Rosacci is excited for the inevitable growth ahead, he remains dedicated to “keeping his roots on the mountain.”
“In Colorado, the snowboard scene is just exploding, and it’s amazing to see all the other local companies that are out there that are doing well,” Rosacci said. “Everyone is in it for the love, and we’re having fun at the same time.”
Fun with a capital ‘F’
It’s a pretty good story for the high school reunion: Three childhood friends from Tempe, Ariz., embark on a journey to the snowy mountains of Colorado, where they fall in love with snowboarding and start a business that takes the county by storm.
For Mike Kissell, Mike Crabb, and Nick Scott, it’s a story they all tell with smiles after starting Essi Eyewear out of their home in Dillon.
Essi, which came about when the crew was brainstorming homonyms for the “S.C.” in Summit County, began producing eyewear that was both unique and affordable, filling a niche that had long been ignored by many of the larger, more established companies.
“There seemed like there was no in-between. It was either gas-station glasses or high-end stuff over $100,” Kissell said. “People’s reaction was almost relief when we started putting them out.”
The three friends began experimenting with old-school sunglass designs that they liked and later expanded into T-shirts, hats, and stickers.
Always dedicated to having fun, the guys from Essi keep the local snowboard community in the forefront of their operations.
Whether it’s inviting riders onto their tricked-out lime green RV after a long day on the hill or putting on a backyard rail jam for the neighborhood kids, Essi embodies the fun-loving vibe that make Summit County unique.
“If it’s fun, then we want to be apart of it,” Crabb said, adding that the company’s new saying, “It’s Love,” represents a commitment to enjoying life to the fullest, both on and off the mountain.
Available online, Essi products and stickers are popping up in places as far away as New York and Wyoming, and the guys don’t have any intentions of stopping now.
“We’re going to keep it going as long as we can,” Kissell said. “It’s a fun time in our lives, and it’s still crazy to think that we created a business that people are enjoying.”
Breckenridge resident Daniel “Floyd” Ralph didn’t initially realize he was in the beginning stages of starting a company when a local skate shop asked for an order of stickers that he created as an inside joke with some of his snowboarding buddies.
“I would joke around with friends when we were taking about having good days and saying things like ‘Yeah, me glad,”’ Ralph said. “It was a funny saying that kind of stuck, so I put it on a sticker, and people actually wanted them.”
Before he knew it, Ralph was doodling a simple logo of a small, smiling bird and slapping it on stickers, t-shirts, hoodies, beanies and bandannas.
“So many people try to find an image to capitalize on. MeGlad is about fun, and that never gets old,” Ralph said. “The whole company is based off of having fun with friends and remembering why you got into snowboarding in the first place.”
Ralph has ambitious plans to extend his product line in the upcoming years, and in addition to designing more products for females, he hopes to start experimenting with denim, a fabric used successfully by few other companies.
All for one
Despite competing for the same market, the collection of locally-rooted young entrepreneurs breaking in to the snowboard industry are looking to support each other rather than compete against each other.
“We’re all still struggling to pay the bills, but we’re doing what we want, so we have to be there for each other,” Rosacci said. “The vibe between all the companies is amazing, and we’re all in it for the love.”
Although the future is still paved with uncertainties, the guys behind the brands are proud of how far they have come and remain committed to creating innovative products that will appeal to the next generation of snowboarders.
“Making a company happen through grassroots speaks loud” Ralph said. “We are showing people that we are smart enough. We are capable, and we are mature enough to just and go for it. I know I would be kicking myself if I didn’t try to make this happen.”
Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.