We posted allready about the lux-layering clothing brand called eesa.
Now BrOADER hooked up with Stephen Cleary, brand director from eesa, for a short e-mail interview about the brand, the concept, the products.

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Click on the link below to read it!

Hi Stephen and thanks for your time!

Let’s start with a quick review of your background.

Whew, that’s a big question. We’ll I’ll cut to the important stuff, I started snowboarding in 1985, my freshman year at Umass-Amherst. I graduated from the University in 1991 with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Design and I moved down to New York City to work for an architectural firm shortly thereafter. Living in the city was amazing and exciting to say the least, but I found myself driving to Vermont to snowboard every weekend and that was a six-hour drive one-way! So I made a decision to get into the snowboard industry and started managing snowboard shops.

I did this for a handful of years and soon started to look for employment at Burton. In 1997 I was hired to worked in Advanced Product Development at Burton, we looked at product that was conceptual and 5-6 years away from retail. One the major projects we worked on was the Fusion Strap-Step-in hybrid that hit the market in 2004, so you can imagine how conceptual it was in 97. One thing I noticed when working on the APD project was that we were seeing a lot of inventors approaching us with concepts and prototypes that really lent themselves to teaching people how to snowboard. I decided I would pitch burton on the idea of formalizing the Learn-To-Ride program, they agreed and I helped get that program off the ground.

My final three years at Burton I helped to launch anon optics. This was an amazing experience because for all intents and purposes there was myself and one-to-two other dedicated people at any given time getting anon off the ground. Anon was set up as a stand-alone business unit and as such we were responsible for all marketing, product and sales development including developing and managing the budgets. I realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I really treated it like my own business so I could learn as much as I could. After three years were over I decided to take some time off to be with my family and reconnect to snowboarding. I was completely burnt on the scene and was really bummed that my stoke wasn’t as high as it usually was.

During my year off I spent many days hiking and riding the mountain alone, it was during this time that I could reflect on anything with out any outside pressures. My stoke for snowboarding came back stronger than ever and I was ready to start eesa. One year to the day my non-compete with Burton was up I started to call riders that I knew in the industry and my idea for a clothing company that was based around layering products you could wear from lift-to-lounge without looking like you were wearing underwear. The response from the team was overwhelming to say the least, they were amped and we were ready to go. That is how eesa came to be.

How many years have you been snowboarding?

I started riding in 1985, but really the equipment was so archaic, it was more like you were trying to hold on for as long as you could before you got worked. I still remember my first day at Jay Peak in 1985, the snow was harder than cement and it took me longer than 4 hours to make two top-to-bottom runs and even though I could barely sit down for a week, I knew I loved snowboarding and would learn to do it if it killed me.


Did you ever come to ride in Europe?


Oh yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to ride at places like St Anton, Stubai, Laax, and many other resorts and countries, I love riding in Europe because the whole experience is so amazing, from the mountains to the old school architecture to the history, I love to ride in Europe to say the least.

How long have you been involved in the snowboard industry?


From a ‘work’ point of view it’s been about 15 years, really anyone who works at a shop part-time or teaches at a resort or works for a manufacture is part of the industry, I love it.

What were your responsibilities when you were at Burton? Did you work already at that time on technical clothing development?


As I mentioned previously I worked mostly on the Hardgoods side of the business, but was involved with developing the softgoods collection for the anon line. More importantly I helped source several factories for Burton and had made several trips to Europe and Asia looking for factories, so I had that experience when I was trying to source factories for eesa. Knowing how to source factories was a major plus in getting eesa off the ground, it saved us time, money and stress.

The eesa project – How did this idea to develop a stylish line of technical lux layering hit you?


More than anything it was while riding and watching people take off their wet cotton T-shirts and hoodies and put on dry clothes. I knew there were plenty of companies that made first-layer, I just couldn’t understand why snowboarders wouldn’t wear it. So, quite literally, I called some pro riders and asked them what the wore when riding? The answer consistently was a cotton-T and cotton Hoody. The reason no one was wearing the existing options was that they didn’t want to be seen in public like they were wearing underwear.

How is the eesa brand working? I mean where are you based? how many people are working with you, where to you design the products and where are they produced?


Wow, that’s a lot of questions! ha. ha. Ok, so the brand itself is going great, we launched the brand in North America last year and opened over a 100 accounts, we are having great sell-through and people are pretty hyped on the brand. Additionally we sold product in Japan, Canada and Russia. We are based in Vermont for several reasons, the first is that it gets very, very cold here which is great for product testing, the other is that we are 30 minutes from the mountain (Stowe), so again, we can test prototypes on and off the hill.

Right now it’s myself, Fran Frost our Global Sales director and Agatha Kessler our do-everything kick-ass employee. Fran owned a specialty snowboard shop in Stowe and had his own clothing line before coming on board with eesa, so He has a ton of experience knowing what shops want, dealing with reps and basically has a finger on the pulse of retail.

We work with two designers in New York City, which is about 6 hours away or a 1 hour flight, they produce the designs and they we get them in front of our team of riders for input. We use the riders for input because they travel all over the world and they see what’s happening in the mountain. They are our extended network for trends, designs and feedback.

The products are manufactured in China and Taiwan, their are several reasons for this, the proximity to Japan helps with that market and the shipping time to Europe and the US is about the same because they are between the two. The tops are made in China and the Socks are made in Taiwan.

What’s the most important factor for eesa : style, performance or both?


Actually we want people to be drawn into our products based on the style. The reason for this is that we make the best lux layering products money can buy, so when someone purchases our products we want them to wear them anytime they want to be warm, comfortable and dry. Really anyone who lives in a locale where it gets cold is a potential consumer, you don’t have to wear our product to go snowboarding.

Tell us more about your products. Which one is your favorite both for shredding and going for a beer!


Well, I actually have two that I really, really love. The first is the Yellow Ridgeline and the other is the black Lines. I’ve worn both of these pieces out in public and gotten more great comments than all the other clothing in my closet, so you could say I have a soft spot for these two products.

Finally can you tell us about the marketing actions you are using to promote eesa and if you have plans to distribute the brand in Europe in the near future?


We’ve taken a different approach to marketing than most companies in the industry, we don’t have stacks of cash to do print ads, but we still have to reach out and get our brand noticed. One of the most effective tools we have used is our steeze citations, they look like a fake parking ticket and have tons of funny copy on them. We go to events such as the US Open in the US and put citations on all of the cars in all of the parking lots. It’s quite funny to see someone get so mad when they think they got a fake ticket and then start to laugh when the read it. It’s has a high impact and is quite memorable. The added value of the steez citation is that if the person who gets it sends it back to us we start to send that person mixed cd’s, whoopee cushions, stickers, etc, in the mail, if anyone wants to get on the list all they have to do is e-mail enabler@eesaclothing.com and we’ll take it from there, Europe, Japan, anywhere, we sent all over the world.

Thanks for the info on eesa and good luck for the future!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to you about eesa and if you have any questions feel free to get in touch anytime. And, of course, if you are ever in Vermont please stop by for a tour and we can go make some turns!

shred on!

Stephen Cleary
eesa
Lux Layering From Lift-To-Lounge

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