Our Favorite Interviews of 2019
As 2020 approaches, it’s a great time to look back on the favorite interviews and stories of 2019.
I enjoy talking to a wide range of people every year, but some discussions stand out.
Here’s a list of my top 10 in 2019.
Charlie Setzler, a former industry executive who had big jobs at both O’Neill and Rusty clothing, now owns and operates a surf shop in Laguna Beach called Landmark Surf Company in addition to holding a senior position at Donjoy, a health company.
Charlie details what he has learned as a retailer that he didn’t know when he was in charge of selling to retailers on the brand side. And, he shares honest thoughts on the state of the industry from his perspective as a retailer.
I loved this talk with Lyndon and Jamie Cormack, the founders of Herschel, one of the most successful startups in the industry in the past decade.
We talked about Herschel’s fast-growing travel and apparel businesses, their plans for Herschel stores, lessons learned over the past 10 years, and if they want to take on financial partners at some point. We later learned that portion of the discussion foreshadowed the news that they were bringing in outside investors for the first time in Herschel’s 10-year history.
Burton is so much more open and transparent the past few years, and I love it. They are one of the most important companies in the industry, they are 100% privately held, and they are doing very interesting things. It’s great to be able to hear about them.
Co-CEO John Lacy is helping to lead the transparency charge, and in this interview he shared a lot of interesting information about how big DTC has grown as a percentage of revenue, new programs they are working on with retail partners, and about what Burton has learned from its many years participating in the Winter Olympics. He has really good insight into what the Olympics could mean for surf and skate brands in 2020.
The ambsn story is one of perseverance, and we talk to brothers Dylan and Dustin Odbert about how they have adjusted now that so many brands have entered their fashion space – a space that they had to themselves for years.
It’s a great tale of adaptation, including finding new avenues for growth such as developing a robust private label business for the band Modest Mouse.
I appreciated this interview because it was so newsy. Not only did I learn that Brixton has a new leadership team, but new CEO Raphael Peck and VP of Brand Marketing Davide Mattucci outlined major new strategies for Brixton to get the brand back on the growth track.
Brixton is an important brand in the industry, and the two see lots of potential for Brixton both inside and outside its action sports roots.
Scott Allan presented at the revamped SIMA Speaker Series this year, and I found his talk informative and interesting.
Scott came from the Silicon Valley tech world before joining Hydro Flask, where he and the team mixed best practices from the quick-moving tech world with the more culture-oriented, brand-building ethos of outdoor to propel one of the fastest-growing companies in the outdoor space.
In his talk, he spoke about leading the booming Hydro Flask and the challenges rapid growth presented, and he offered advice on making adjustments post-acquisition.
It was a big year for Volcom and the management team after former owner Kering, a French luxury company, sold the brand’s intellectual property to Authentic Brands Group. CEO Todd Hymel and a few others bought the Volcom global operations and formed a new company called Liberated Brands, which is now the Volcom licensee.
In this interview, Todd lays out how the new arrangement will work, talks about the pluses and minuses that came with being owned by Kering, and about positive signs for the business.
Doug is very good at interviews, probably because of his background in marketing. I always find out lots of good stuff when I speak with him, and this time was no exception.
We talked about how Vans is managing its astounding growth, how Vans views wholesale partnerships in light of its robust direct business, the brand’s new approach to surf, and why Doug believes the industry’s incestuous thinking has been its downfall.
I think Jeff makes this list every year because of his willingness to say what he thinks, an increasingly rare quality.
In this interview, we talk about his new job as managing director of venture capital firm Pelion Venture Partners, why he left the CEO role at Stance, his take on the state of the action sports industry, and what the future holds for Stance when it comes to an exit event.
Who would have guessed that selling string bracelets would lead to two young businessmen becoming the industry’s newest multimillionaires?
Pura Vida got there by harnessing the power of social media from the beginning and developing innovate sales and marketing techniques that had a big impact for very little cost. Here, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman share some of their successful strategies at a meeting for stock analysts. We obtained a transcript of their talk.
The brand was acquired in 2019 by Vera Bradley, which paid $75 million for 75% of the company. Pura Vida is expected to reach $240 million in revenue by 2023.