Recently we posted a spot on Armada founder Chris O’Connell. Personally I love hearing about the people behind companies in the skiing industry, it shows everyone that there is more than one way to get a gig in the sport you love. Julian Carr is a pro skier and also the founder of Discrete Headwear. The interview he did recently with Powdermag.com is a cool piece that has some good info about where the business side of things is going when it comes to marketing and advertising. Take a page out of the Discrete handbook and get to gettin’. Below is the full interview with Julian, which can also be found here @ Powdermag.com.
In order to stay competitive, relevant, unique, interesting and, most importantly, in business, it recently occurred to Julian Carr—the pro skier founder of Discrete Headwear—that Discrete needed to step up its multimedia and gorilla marketing game. (Actually, prior to the realization Discrete was doing nothing of the sort.)
That is all changing. Today, in fact, Discrete rolled out eight videos under the banner of Discrete TV with a series titled “Off the Top of Our Head.” With it, Carr, 32, a Salt Lake City native and resident, and his stable of friends and Discrete athletes, plan to launch fresh, like-minded “Off the Top of Our Head” videos each week throughout the winter.
To mark the occasion, and to probe deeper into its meaning for us in the world today, Powder.com got Carr on the phone last night. Topics include webisode-a-neering, viral marketing, large carc-hucks, business acumen and development, mathematics and other boring stuff. —Tim Mutrie
Powder: Tell us about the creative process at work here.
Julian Carr: “My excitement with this series lies in the fact that people don’t have to put in a big time investment when they see these pop up each week. It’s going to be entertaining and unique, but not a big commitment.”
Nobody likes to be spammed, right? “I don’t want it to be like, ‘Oh, I’m annoyed by another one of these.’ Because that’s how I feel when I see not-super-high-quality videos dropping across different action sports right now. ‘I don’t have another four minutes… for this.’”
What sorts of video series don’t annoy you? “Salomon Freeski TV, anything from Nimbus, the Battle of the Berrics, which is a skate thing. … The Berrics thing has actually given me an idea for skiing where we’d set up a similar type of competition.”
What sorts of videos are annoying then? “[Laughter]. I know how much effort it takes to put one of these videos together, so it’s impossible for me to shoot anybody down. And of any webisode out there, there’s always going to be something in it that I like. I guess that’s not the answer you’re looking for, but I don’t think it’s fair to talk s— about anybody.”
OK, don’t toss anybody under the bus and keep the flower child thing going… “We have five or six already on deck and my vision is throughout the year, in real time, we’ll have Off the Top of our Heads from wheverever our althetes are. Random things like our CFO [Clayton Quarles] getting hit in the head with a basketball. Who knows, maybe some guy is about to drop a line and he gets hit in the head with a basketball; so maybe we’ll have recurring themes too.”
“We’ll keep the art stuff going as well, but I think the majority of what we’ll put out focuses on real awesome skiing. We’ll try to utilize things that are funny and interesting and hopefully for the whole series it gives it an interesting angle. We’re a snow brand, but we also want to make sure we’re entertaining and unique.”
All the while keeping production values simple? “It’s the opposite of a production. It’s not a production. It’s no nonsense little looks into what our athletes are doing, and the story is exactly what we’re making: art, skiing, snowboarding, a funny skit.”
How is the company rolling these days? “Our products are now on shelves for the third year of business. I created the brand six years ago, but the first three years I just made stuff and gave it to all my skier and snowboarder friends… Then three years ago I was like, ‘OK, it’s time to make this the real deal.’ And now we’re sold in five or six countries and 95 shops nationwide, so it’s getting more exciting. We’re also doing co-branded beanies for other companies: MSP, Fatypus, Warren Miller, Hestra, Wagner Custom Skis…”
Is this what they call gorilla marketing? “You could say that, yes. … I went to this panel at The Meeting in Aspen this year, and Digi Dave [Dave Amirault] brought up how action sports industries have 20-percent of their content video-based, and by 2014 it’ll be 75 percent. And I realized how much content we have on our website, but we ourselves don’t have any videos. So I was like, ‘S—, we’re not like Salomon, we don’t have a budget we can throw behind it…’ But it was like, ‘Off the Top of Our Head—something we can come up with quick.’ So it’s our first stab at doing something video based. And, yes, it’s very gorilla.”
What’s your title at Discrete? “I don’t really have one, but I do everything except the CFO’ing, including design, with my girlfriend [skier Jen Hudak]. But it is an exciting time because with the help of my CFO we’ve doubled the business from last year and it looks like it’s in the cards for us to hire employees starting next fall. But as a professional skier basically running this on the side, now I’m seeing how much potential the brand has and our CFO is helping me see that and articulate that.”
Did you go to college or something? “Yes, I graduated from the University of Utah; I studied economics and computer science. And actually that’s where I got the name Discrete. I took a class called discrete structures—about things that are disconnected from other mathematical algorithms; unique little worlds of interesting and bizarre stuff.”
Nerd?! “I do all the creative design stuff too—with Jen [Hudak]. And, basically, everything in our line that’s cool is Jen’s.”
Does this cut into your skiing? “I think they work hand in hand. I’m out there no less than when it was just an idea I had in Utah. I just love skiing and that’s why I made the company in the first place—to continue skiing. The only time it cuts into it is with the SIA [trade show], when I’ve gotta be at the booth making sure things are dialed. Other than that I get out there and I think that helps me to know what’ll work and what’s going on in the industry. Then, in the off season, I work my ass off.”
True or false—you have a reputation for dropping huge cliffs? “Yeah, I’ve heard that.”
Still true? “Last year the biggest one I got off was only about a 70 footer. The year before that, two 100 footers … For me, it’s not about deciding when I’m not going to do it anymore. I love it. I love skiing and that’s part of it for me. So if a situation is presented to me when the conditions are just right, I’m always going to think critically about it and consider it. So, yeah, I’m still actively participating in those pursuits.”
“What it boils down to is I love powder. And cliffs pop up when you’re skiing powder and sometimes they look like fun.”
Do you wear a helmet? “Most of the time. I don’t try to have a policy about it, but I usually ski with a helmet. Of course, I always wear a beanie with the helmet over it, and the helmet’s got a Discrete sticker on it. Gotta represent, but it is a conundrum.”