Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And so it begins...

In early 2008 one of our buddies, Kevin, was over in Japan and decided that he wanted to shred out there. While picking up gear at some snowboarding shops in the Ochanomizu district of Tokyo he found some sick looking facemasks and couldn't stop raving about them.

A few months later, in early March, I traveled directly to Hakuba (Nagano Prefecture) to meet up with Kevin and a friend to ride the Japan Alps. Later in the trip I also paid a visit to the Ochanomizu district in Tokyo and after visiting a dozen stores bought most of the remaining supply (wasn't much left) of the facemasks Kevin found. They were pricey ranging from about $40 - $50 a piece depending on the model, but I guess they sold well because Japanese riders are used to paying through the nose for quality gear.

Back in the states I handed out all the masks to fellow shredders as gifts from my Japan trip. After several lengthy discussions about the masks, we started talking about how we could improve on them. That was when Jonlin brought up his factory contacts and the idea of what eventually became our Alpha mask started coming into focus.

While traveling through Asia, Jonlin made it a point to stop by Japan to conduct some more research on what product was already out there. Though the selection was thin in the early summer months, he managed to find some remaining masks and additional brands that offered similar masks. As we refined our initial product over the next few months, we found some niche mask manufacturers in North America other than the well known Canandian brand, Airhole (we never did like the hole in their designs). As the season drew closer we noticed that some well known snowboarding companies began offering facemasks this season.

Undeterred we marched on and here we are today, a month or so away from our initial product's release...

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