Less than six months after Nau's vision collapsed under the weight of an ambitious business plan that did not have the necessary financial support to go forward (click here to read story), and a mere four months after Horny Toad announced it was acquiring Nau's assets (click here to read story), Nau is rolling out a redesigned website, relaunching a scaled-back Partners for Change program, and debuting a fall '08 line that the company says represents the best of its original designs plus a little bit more.
The new website, which launches Oct. 21 at www.nau.com, showcases not only Nau's product line, available for online purchase by consumers as before, but also Nau's updated Partners for Change program and the company's new retail partners. The website itself, which SNEWS previewed in advance of the launch, has been redesigned to provide a more streamlined shopping experience than the previous site.
"The new site does a better job of interweaving various types of content that enhances the user experience, and has made Nau's website a destination for those interested in learning about the brand," said Ian Yolles, marketing director for Nau.
In a switch from its original business model where products were only available in Nau storefronts and its website, Nau is working with various retail partners, which include Ann Arbor Bivouac in Michigan (www.bivouacannarbor.com), Norsehouse Ski & Sport in Vermont (www.norsehouse.com), Ellie's Eco Home Store in Colorado (www.elliesecohomestore.com), Uncle Dan's stores in Illinois (www.udans.com), Jack Dennis Sports in Wyoming (www.jackdennis.com), Unfurl in Oregon, Paragon Sports in New York City (www.paragonsports.com), and Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works in New Mexico (www.sdcmountainworks.com). In addition, Nau products will be carried in Horny Toad's Portland, Ore., store, The Lizard Lounge (www.lizardloungepdx.com).
Yolles told SNEWS, "These stores represent a new direction for Nau, and one in which we can more effectively reach a broader customer audience with our products and message of combining beauty, performance and sustainability."
The product line itself, originally 170 styles prior to the business shut down, has been pared down to 69 styles, Yolles said, and represents the "best of the best."
"When we began looking at how we would best come back, we analyzed the scope and scale of the business as a whole. While that meant 170 separate styles were necessary when we were trying to fill our own company-owned stores and stock a website, it was no longer necessary or even appropriate when presenting a line that a retailer would need to merchandise effectively in its store," Yolles told SNEWS. "We trimmed the line down to focus our resources and effort on the top of the line -- the real cream."
Another change for Nau is a restructuring of its Partners for Change program, which at Horny Toad's insistence, will continue to exist. Under the new design, the Partners for Change program gives 2 percent of every sale to organizations working for positive change, while still involving customers directly in the selection process when purchasing product via its website (www.nau.com). While this is less than the 5 percent Nau aspired to when it launched originally, Yolles pointed out it is still more than most companies give, even in the outdoor industry, which he believed establishes Nau among the leaders in setting the bar high for others to follow. Five non-profit organizations have been chosen so far from among the 33 that Nau worked with previously, he said, and one more will be named soon.
The five non-profits include: Ashoka, which has created and built the world's largest community of leading social entrepreneurs to bring system-changing solutions to urgent social problems (www.ashoka.org); Mercy Corps, which works with local communities to deliver emergency relief for people afflicted by conflict or disaster, promoting citizen participation, accountability and peaceful change (www.mercycorps.org); Kiva, which connects people around the globe to developing world entrepreneurs who need a micro loan to start or expand a small business (www.kiva.org); Ecotrust, which has built the Salmon Nation, a place where wild salmon and people thrive by focusing on creating resilient, regional markets imbued with social equity and ecological integrity (www.ecotrust.org); and Breakthrough Institute, which is a small think tank with big ideas, reinventing progressive and ecological politics for the next generation (www.thebreakthrough.org).
Nau continues to be led by a seasoned team of 12 with broad experience in the outdoor, fitness and retail fashion industries -- many of whom have past employment at Patagonia, Nike, Nordstrom's and The Body Shop. Nau continues to operate a blog for individuals interested in sharing ideas about positive change, dubbed the Thought Kitchen at http://blog.nau.com.