Meet the ‘snowpreneur’ taking on the big guns

Discussion in 'Snow Talk' started by Hunter, May 23, 2018.

  1. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2000
    Messages:
    13,121
    Likes Received:
    302
    After a horror start when his Chinese manufacturer failed to deliver the goods in time for the northern hemisphere winter, James Horstman, founder of the Australian range of snowboard and skiwear, Drifa, is raring to go for the local snow season.

    As we head toward winter, Horstman is spending much of his time building relationships with Instagram influencers.


    Brandon Winslow, who’s just started competing and who became one of the business’s influencers before the North American season.

    "He's got a small following on Instagram and I reached out to him because he was just getting into the competition scene, and he didn't have apparel support. He’s agreed to wear our gear and name us as a sponsor in competitions," says Horstman.
    Aside from building the company’s network of influencers, Horstman is filing patents for his snow garments, which have built-in protection that acts as a buffer when people have a fall. He’s working on gear with back protection at the moment.

    “It's close to what's happened in the motorcycle industry, but nobody has done it in the ski and snowboard industry,” he explains.

    The concept came to Horstman in January 2017 when he was snowboarding in Finland and getting hurt. Attempting to pull off a 360-degree turn while snowboarding led to multiple falls.

    “There's a lot of pain involved. I thought, you know what? I'm going to go buy some protection shorts and put them under my pants. But they cost $150 and I only had three days left riding, so I put up with the pain. But I thought, why hasn't somebody done this, and how about I give this a go?" he explains.

    Horstman is hoping his invention will take off in the same way as helmets have in snow sports. “Fifteen years ago, no one wore helmets, they were so uncool. Now everybody wears them,” he says.

    After sourcing a product designer in the US, he started exploring manufacturing in China. “When the first set of samples came back from China, I almost cried; I couldn't believe how wrong they were. We had to go back and forth and back and forth and it was a very stressful period.”

    His advice for other local manufacturers making product in China is to get everything in writing. “Make sure the contract includes penalties for delays. We had delays that meant we missed the Christmas selling period, and that hurt us.”

    The business earned $36,000 last financial year, which he says was heart-breaking and attributes this to not having product in the market in December. He expects to make $123,000 this financial year. About $13,000 has been spent on marketing, which he says has involved a steep learning curve. “It's test and learn, and you have to be willing to make mistakes.”

    By January this year Horstman had product in the market. At this stage, Drifa is online only, but he would consider building partnerships with the right retail group.

    “We wanted to launch in October, but we had a really big hiccup. Our focus was selling to Europe first, but it didn’t work for us because of high import duties and taxes,” he says.

    Customers abandoned their carts once they got to the checkout and saw how much duty was payable. This issue has subsequently been resolved by building duties and delivery into the sticker price. But Horstman subsequently switched his focus to North American markets.

    “That's when we started to see the pick-up. Next winter we may go back to Europe again and we’re exploring multi-lingual sites in German and Italian.”

    While he’s focused on ski and snowboarding apparel right now, Horstman envisages a future in which Drifa is a general mountain brand.

    It’s a huge ambition for a business based in Australia’s notoriously flat landscape – but that might just give it the point of difference it needs to succeed in an ever-crowded global adventure apparel market.


    https://www.theage.com.au/business/...r-taking-on-the-big-guns-20180522-p4zgoz.html


    https://drifa.com/
     
  2. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    He'll struggle with his moq .
     
    Chaeron likes this.
  3. Seth

    Seth Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2000
    Messages:
    38,188
    Likes Received:
    15,802
    Is it ‘dry-fa’ or ‘drif-a’?
     
  4. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Dah-ree-fer

    Means fall of snow in Icelandic
     
  5. Slalom

    Slalom A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,430
    Likes Received:
    4,559
  6. Seth

    Seth Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2000
    Messages:
    38,188
    Likes Received:
    15,802
    Be better having a name that doesn’t require google to translate or you have to ask how to pronounce it.

    Product idea isn’t bad at all though.
     
    Harry James likes this.
  7. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Yeah I thought that
     
  8. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Product looks good.
    His margins will be shite.
    If he's spending 10% on marketing he'll struggle with a internet business.
     
    Harry James likes this.
  9. sourmash

    sourmash Addicted

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2011
    Messages:
    850
    Likes Received:
    324
    From marketing perspective, he's just made a big step forward with the Australian domestic market with that article. I read it myself and signed up for updates, even if I'm not looking for new technical stuff for another year or so.
     
    Harry James and climberman like this.
  10. piolet

    piolet Found anything yet?
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    22,462
    Likes Received:
    14,927
    New poster to the boards has a title linking to this mob :) welcome
     
    Harry James likes this.
  11. skinavy

    skinavy One of Us

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,780
    Likes Received:
    997
    Read the article when it first appeared. My first thought was if I buy clothing with built in protection then I'm stuck with that clothing no matter conditions. Not really convinced as to how practical it would be, particularly in Australia when you can go from great weather to pouring rain to heavy snow over a weekend. When that happens I'd be changing jackets etc.

    Also each article of clothing would be heavier and bulkier than just having impact shorts and backprotector that you wear separately. So traveling with multiple jackets or pants becomes a problem.
     
    Harry James, qwill and nfip like this.
  12. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 1995
    Messages:
    10,552
    Likes Received:
    5,696
    What I find most interesting is that simply creating the product and seeing if it will fly is viable for under 20K.

    20~40 years ago only a medium-to-large company could commission retail-ready product. The development process was incredibly expensive and just market testing the idea prior to fabrication would have cost more than $20k (in real terms).

    So good on him for having a go.

    That said, he's catering to a low numbers spread thinly across the globe. I imagaine it can only be a online business that ships direct. Physical retail distribution does not seem viable.
     
    Harry James, Chaeron and Charlie like this.
  13. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 1995
    Messages:
    10,552
    Likes Received:
    5,696
    Better advice would be to pay a few dollars for someone seriously experienced in commissioning stuff from China and can speak Madarin.

    www.strategicsourcing.com.au

    (shameless plug for a neighbour & good mate)
     
    climberman, LMB and Chaeron like this.
  14. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2000
    Messages:
    15,445
    Likes Received:
    7,501
    Something like arc'teryx maybe?
     
    Mufts and GS like this.
  15. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Messages:
    37,439
    Likes Received:
    5,025
    I like the name, and it doesn't matter whether people know what it means. And it's distinctive.
     
    Harry James likes this.
  16. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,477
    Likes Received:
    2,061
    Needs a Patent and TM Attorney ;)
     
    climberman likes this.
  17. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Messages:
    37,439
    Likes Received:
    5,025
    LOL
     
  18. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    21,206
    Likes Received:
    19,151
    What @Richard and @skichanger said, but add Cantonese. Buying direct off Chinese manufacturers is a good way to get burnt. They will tell you want you want to hear, and have no understanding/respect of patents. Going into partnership, and buying your own factory works much better, but hanging onto your intellectual property is not easy. Getting things in writing? If they get the shits with you hassling them, poof, they disappear, and you cannot contact them. Their government is not like ours. A friend in their government would be an amazing thing.

    But good luck to them, it takes risk, and a sharp learning curve to make it these days.
     
    Harry James likes this.
  19. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    21,454
    Likes Received:
    14,049
    And visit the factory often and randomly. Quality control is a real issue.
     
  20. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,477
    Likes Received:
    2,061
    WRT to IP whilst it is difficult to enforce IP rights in china you can protect it in the country where the goods are being sold if you have the appropriate registrations in place. We have been on both sides of this. We have acted for clients who have registered valid patents, trademarks and designs. And we have acted for clients who have received cease and desist letters. In both cases it is always worth getting advice as a better outcome can often be negotiated if you know the rules.
     
    telecrag likes this.
  21. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    21,206
    Likes Received:
    19,151
    I should put my boss in touch with you!
     
    skichanger likes this.
  22. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,477
    Likes Received:
    2,061
    Sure. Look up Acumen Intellectual Property. We are happy to give potential clients some free advice over the phone before we start working for people.
     
    Ted Harper and telecrag like this.
  23. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Messages:
    67,241
    Likes Received:
    20,526
    Yes maybe in the beginning and until you get your head around it, but at the end of the day these guys are always looking to make a buck off you and will continue to do so until you take matters into your own hands. We dont deal with 'agents' or the like anymore because of this and a few other reasons.
     
  24. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 1995
    Messages:
    10,552
    Likes Received:
    5,696
    Of course, everyone is looking to make a living. We all have to find our way in the world.

    You could say the same about any tradesman, or any professional service, or any service based business, especially when you don't particularly like or hold in high regard the offering (like say lawyers & law firms). Every skill is something we can learn ourselves (for the most part)

    I could make an espresso coffee myself, but I chose on almost all occasions to get a barista to do it and so I hand over $3.50.

    Division of Labour is what makes the world go round.

    Surely you spent 12+ years in education and learnt a skill that you then hocked and called it your career?
     
    The Plowking likes this.
  25. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Messages:
    67,241
    Likes Received:
    20,526
    The tradesman one doesnt really work cos unless you are qualified and ticketed, you cant build a house and produce the certificates to get the house signed off. It's more to do with service-based stuff, which in the end comes down to how much your time is worth. Agents/traders are always looking to make a buck and help their own interests, which might mean they'll get you the product they want you to have, instead of the product you could have if you went it on your own. I'm not saying dont use a trader/agent, I thought my post made that clear. My point was that they are in it to make money, and at some point you'll come to the decision of whether you pay them x amount to do a job for you, or whether you take on that responsibility for yourself/your team/internally. We've found over the past couple of years especially that if you dont take matters into your own hands and be in control, you're prone to being stitched up. Of course you cant do this for everything in life, cos micromanaging will kill you, but there are options is what i'm saying.
     
  26. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Very true, but you have to spend money to get a brand out there at the start.
     
  27. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Thanks for the support @sourmash
     
  28. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Hi
     
    climberman, piolet and The Plowking like this.
  29. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    I'll have to jump in here on this one. The jacket and pants are not that much heavier than your usual pant or jacket. Here comes the product plug. We made it removable so that wouldn't slow you down, or adjustable so you can ski to your style. For instance, if you have a left hip and tailbone injury, just ride with that and take out the right side pad. Trust me testing this gear was tough, and the weight that you have with your helmet, boots, skis, gloves etc. A little bit of padding is your last concern, especially when it can save you from injury.
     
  30. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    We (in my old life in surf hardware/fashion/snow retail and wholesale) were one of the first to use an agent and develop our product overseas. (looking at 22 years ago).
    Funnily enough the same agent is still going strong (a mate of mine that designs for a major label uses them).
     
    Harry James likes this.
  31. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Thanks, that's almost exactly why I chose it.
     
  32. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Yeah ...though the method is constantly evolving.
    I'd be wary of going too hard into the socials , especially the way its evolving.
     
    CarveMan and Harry James like this.
  33. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    We should talk, as you can see this is my first range. Any advice would be grateful.
     
  34. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Facebook is dead, so hard to get traction these days. I'm focused on building the brand through other areas.
     
  35. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Amen to that
     
  36. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    I'm almost saying instagram is dead too ... if its not dying its about to fall off a cliff
    IMO
     
    CarveMan likes this.
  37. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2000
    Messages:
    15,445
    Likes Received:
    7,501
    Whats next?
     
  38. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    If i knew that, we could get rich...
     
  39. piolet

    piolet Found anything yet?
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    22,462
    Likes Received:
    14,927
    Dial up BBs
     
  40. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 12, 2000
    Messages:
    69,429
    Likes Received:
    27,607
    Targeted, paid social. And Google Adwords. It's king.
     
    The Plowking likes this.
  41. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Maria from adwords rang me today.....
    I must be important if google rings me
     
    Harry James and CarveMan like this.
  42. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    13,434
    Likes Received:
    10,607
    Advice?
    Keep your range small and tight.. Too many items = disaster .
    Your garments have some great features which you've highlighted well.
    Try to keep your seasonal tweaks small ... don't redesign .. China will just f..k it up again . Just be smart with your fabrics colours

    keep an eye on your size break .. I've noticed the L and XL areas seem to inceasingly popular. However with an asian centric factory this may not be encouraged ...
     
    telecrag and piolet like this.
  43. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,477
    Likes Received:
    2,061
    There are some professions it is wise to use as well. And some things only the owner or a suitably qualified professional are allowed to do, with good reason.
     
  44. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 1995
    Messages:
    10,552
    Likes Received:
    5,696
    Was it ever there beyond street fashion & active wear?

    It's cult of the individual, promotional success can only be found in a few very narrow niches and the only real earners are the 'influencers' .
     
  45. piolet

    piolet Found anything yet?
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    22,462
    Likes Received:
    14,927
    Yoga and dog pics
     
    Harry James likes this.
  46. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    You can burn your budget real quick if you have the wrong people working for you. But as the saying goes "you pay peanuts you get monkeys"
     
    CarveMan likes this.
  47. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 12, 2000
    Messages:
    69,429
    Likes Received:
    27,607
    I don't think you could burn money in a casino as quick as you could with badly optimised digital ads!!
     
  48. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    Thanks and much appreciated. I'm only looking at making baby steps at this stage. Missed a massive trick by not having black pants. Should have played it a little safer at the start.
    On the sizes I'm seeing a lot of small at the moment. Waiting for the bigger boppers to come along :)
     
    Donzah likes this.
  49. Harry James

    Harry James Early Days
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    12
    I wish I could laugh. But you are 100% right. I'll put it down to test and learn. Learning cost $$$
     
    climberman and CarveMan like this.
  50. Jamesc

    Jamesc Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    233
    Size guide puts me off as no CM or IN size measurements for waist etc.
    Sizing is such a random thing, i can run anywhere between a Xl - XXXL depending on the brand.