New Outdoor Retailer Exhibitors: Ticla, Key Log Rolling, Beija-Flor and Nocqua Adventure Gear

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.

>> Ticla / www.ticla.com / Rich Hill, founder / Ventura, Calif.

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Rich Hill on Ticla: “Ticla is a lifestyle camping company designing gear to improve the camping experience and create more happy campers. The initial product launch includes tents, sleeping bags, shelters and ground pads. Ticla products are intuitive and innovative. The result is quality gear that’s functional, versatile and aesthetically appealing. Ticla fills the spacious void in the camping spectrum between value camping gear and technical mountaineering and backpacking equipment. Ticla was built from the ground up by a team of outdoor industry veterans who have put an exhaustive amount of care and personal knowledge into the development of the line.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
The goal of Ticla is to make some amazing, fun products, and to help camping get its mojo back. Ticla gear is designed exclusively for car campers who shop at specialty retail. We care about design, but we’ve intentionally made concessions on things like weight so the benefits of the product shine rather than its capabilities. It’s gear designed for campsites that are farthest from the summit and closest to the car.

What were you doing before this? 
I began my career working at both Kokatat and Moonstone. Since then, I have worked exclusively in the outdoor industry at Marmot, Patagonia, Ibex and most recently as part of the great team at prAna.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
A few years ago, my family and I took an extended road trip through mainland Mexico, car camping at surf breaks and desert oases along the way. I’d been working in the outdoor industry for forever at that point, and yet I struggled to find the perfect gear that worked for our trip. All the stuff worth buying was designed for a rainforest or a high alpine environment, and wasn’t appropriate for a hot, dry and sunny trip. That trip crystallized everything for me, and the Ticla idea was born. I think it was also where I had my realization that most of the core outdoor people I knew were mainly car campers, and that people don’t camp to go “camping.” We have to camp in order to do the activities we love. Be that climbing trips, mountain bike tours, fly-fishing or even a killer music festival.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
This may sound contrived, but thoughtfulness in design is Ticla’s standout feature and it cuts across the entire product line. From day one we vowed we’d stay focused on benefits over features. We spent a lot of time thinking about how the gear is used — not just at the campsite, but also during storage and transport, set-up and tear down — and also about the aesthetics of the gear.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
Launching a new company is a serious undertaking. The time commitment has been huge. When you start a company like Ticla, of course it’s about the product, but we’ve put an equal amount of energy into building a solid team and a brand that can hopefully inspire people to spend more time outdoors.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
Retail employees. No matter what project I am focused on, in 30 minutes I can learn more on the retail floor than in 30 days in a conference room.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry? 
I think Ticla sees “the industry” as something broader than the companies that display at Outdoor Retailer. We want to give specialty shops a strong brand so campers aren’t forced to shop at big box or the discount clubs. Our goal is to open the aperture of the industry.

>> Key Log Rolling www.keylogrolling.com / Abby Hoeschler, president / Minneapolis, Minn.

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Abby Hoeschler on Key Log Rolling: “Key Log Rolling designed and developed the first lightweight, synthetic log rolling log. As passionate promoters of the sport, we have always seen that people find log rolling fun and challenging; however, the sport has been slow to grow because the equipment itself — a 500-pound cedar log — is a high barrier to entry. Another key to the growth of the sport are the Key Log Trainers that we designed to slow the speed of the spinning log. These paddle wheels attachments are easy to take on and off, and provide just enough resistance to allow beginners time to catch their balance and learn faster. We’re excited to continue to design products that make the sport more accessible to a wider audience.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
When we ask people why they love log rolling, their first answer is always, “Because it’s fun!” So we decided that everything we do should be about fun and making log rolling accessible to everybody. We didn’t set out simply to make a synthetic log rolling log, we wanted to grow the sport and the way to do that was first to make the equipment lighter weight. We want to be the place where people come to learn about all things log rolling. We’ve developed Key Log Rolling teaching manuals and videos, and we offer teacher training workshops. We’re always searching for ways to give people more opportunities to get involved in the sport.

What were you doing before this? 
I come from a family of world champion log rollers; my mother is a seven-time world log rolling champion. We’ve always been active promoters of the sport — teaching classes and starting new programs. The Key Log had always been an idea that my parents threw around, but they could never find the right person to pursue it. When I graduated from Middlebury College with an art history degree at the worst point of the economic downturn, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Where did your inspiration come from? 
Our family has always known that the cedar log rolling logs were a hindrance to the growth of the sport. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when we were about ready to ship logs to France to start log rolling programs through a sister-city project, and then realized that we couldn’t ship raw cedar out of the United States. We knew that we just had to come up with a better option.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
It’s 64 pounds versus the 500 pounds of a cedar wood log.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
Designing the Key Log and working out the manufacturing process.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
Mike Cichanowski. We contract manufacture with Wenonah Canoe/Current Designs Kayaks and they have been an incredible inspiration. Mike, the founder, has a great “try it out and see if it works” mentality. His passion for paddling shows through in his continual effort to look for ways to innovate their designs. Also, Chris Fanning. Chris’s sincerity and passion for building the next generation of outsiders is infectious. She is forward-thinking and an endless source of creative ideas for engaging youth in the outdoors.

>> Beija-Flor / www.ilovethesejeans.com / Emilie Whitaker, co-owner / Greenville, S.C.

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Tell us about your brands and products.
We have over 30 different styles of jeans, but essentially one fit. Our goal is that a woman of any shape or size should have her choice from our entire collection. Our No. 1 selling jean is our Jennifer Skinny jean. We named our website ilovethesejeans.com because that is what everyone says when they put them on. Beija-Flor’s best-selling Nicole jean was featured in this past February’s “Worlds Best Jeans” cover story in O, The Oprah Magazine.

What were you doing before this? 
I was working in politics in Washington, D.C., but growing up my mother ran a women’s apparel specialty store in Greenville, S.C. I always knew I’d end up back in the apparel industry in some way.

Where did your inspiration come from?
Our entire concept came out of our own frustration with the offerings in the premium denim market. After traveling to visit family in Brazil (my father is Brazilian) we realized that Brazilian denim was spectacular. We designed our first pattern after typical Brazilian fits, but tweaked it for our own, very different, yet curvy, body shapes.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
We feel like we’ve really perfected our pattern and as a result we’re able to fit a variety of women.

What has been your biggest challenge?
The world of denim is very competitive. Our collection has to compete with cheap, lower-quality products that are being mass marketed. Our dedication to socially conscious production and only using high-quality materials makes our product more expensive, but it has an incredibly low cost-per-wear ratio.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
I met Matt Reynolds with Indigenous at an apparel show a few years back. His openness and willingness to share his business philosophies was very refreshing, especially in the fashion industry. There is so much irresponsible fashion that we really look up to companies like Indigenous that are profitable but also have a heart.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry? 
I don’t think I know the answer to this. We still feel like our jeans are so unique that we don’t really have any direct competition. I guess we’re essentially competing for space in these outdoor retailer stores.

>> Nocqua Adventure Gear / www.nocqua.com / Lee French, president & CEO / Lewisville, N.C.
Lee French on Nocqua Adventure Gear: “Nocqua Adventure Gear makes it possible for paddlers and other watersport and outdoor enthusiasts to experience their favorite sports in a whole new light. The Nocqua 2000 is an innovative multi-purpose LED lighting system that attaches to a standup paddleboard, kayak or canoe and allows paddlers to explore the excitement of being on the water at night. Nocqua Adventure Gear is a game-changing product. With the help of the advanced lighting system, paddlers can now explore the water in an entirely new way. This product is going to transform the world of watersports as we know it.”

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Tell us about your brands and products.
Headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., and formed in early 2013, the company launched its flagship product, Nocqua 2000, a multi-purpose LED lighting system that attaches to a stand up paddleboard, kayak or canoe and allows paddlers to be on the water at night. The company’s mission is to make outdoor enjoyment accessible for everyone. Nocqua’s products are for multi-sport athletes and engineered specifically for watersports enthusiasts.

What were you doing before this? 
My career prior to Nocqua included McKinsey & Company, Sara Lee Corporation and Kaplan Early Learning Company.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
The inspiration for NocquaAdventure Gear came from company founder and product inventor Billy Rossini. A two-time world watersports champion and Guinness World Record holder, Billy has a passion for watersports that started from childhood. Growing up on a lake, Billy learned to ski at an early age and developed a love for adventure from being out on the water. After a successful professional career in skiing and kneeboarding, he pursued his dream of creating a new product designed for the audience he knows best. Combining his passion for watersports, his expert knowledge of the industry and his experience as a master carpenter, Billy created the Nocqua 2000.

What’s the one best feature of your product?
One of the product features that sets us apart from competitors is that the easy-to-assemble kit takes minimal time to attach to a board, kayak or canoe. It can be easily attached and removed, allowing you to take your paddling or other outdoor pursuits from day to night. But the best feature is the experience you get from a properly lighted night paddle.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
As with any new product, and in this case really a new category, the challenge is to refine your message so that it resonates with consumers and retailers. And, of course managing the limited resources of a start-up to get that message out.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
There are so many admirable marketers and quality manufacturers that it’s hard to single out any one company. We admire anybody, in any industry, who demonstrates a commitment to quality products and quality — both designed to foster the success of their customers, employees and partners.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry?
Unlike other industries, is that there is a great esprit de corps among participants in the outdoor and watersport equipment space. We all want enthusiasts to have access to a healthy and exciting lifestyle, so there’s a great deal of cooperation. That said, our competitive set will be other accessory marketers who are building around core activities. Our products happen to complement multiple core activities.

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