Since founding Stepchild with good bro Brad Richmond in 2000, Sean Johnson and his crew have slashed out a niche for their boards with core kids that thrive on the ride. With a power packed team that includes the likes of J.P. Walker, Simon Chamberlain, and Joe Sexton, you know their decks can rip a rail, and with a roster that has included Terry Kidwell, you better believe they can go anywhere.
We caught up with Johnson to find out the low down on the love they’re sandwiching in their presses for ’09/10.
What’s on the horizon for next year’s decks?
All new core profiles and some new twin reverse camber boards. We are doing some bigger sizes in the JP (157) and Jib Stick (156) and a smaller size for the powder board (153). Also new is the addition of our mini pro models.
[Also] supporting professional snowboarding through pro models. [We’re] making smaller size boards so that young kids can also ride pro model decks instead of heading to the local Sports Mart for a pile of shit. [We’re adding] Mini Pro Model for the JP, 138, and the Simon, 136.
Anything going extinct?
We discontinued the Hammerhead Model and brought in another reverse camber twin board called the Chi Borg. Its gonna be priced at under $400 USD.
What do you think is going to be your best selling deck?
The Jib Stick, JP, Simon and Powder Sucks models have always done really well for us. We also have a lot of faith in the new Reverse Camber Chi Borg Twin and think it will also do really well.
Because they are new, they last and they ride fresh. These boards aren't just a hyped up graphic on a Chinese chopstick. We put a lot of money into designs, custom shapes, and we don't cut corners on materials. We also have less than one percent warranty returns on our boards.
Any new materials or construction technologies?
We have been bracketing the reverse camber to sizes on the Jib Stick models. We find that 6mm is a pretty universal reverse camber measurement but when you go smaller to a 148 it helps to tone down the reverse camber by a little and when you go to larger boards it helps to turn it up a bit. So now the 148 Jib Stick comes with a 4mm reverse camber, the 152 remains at 6mm and the all-new 156 comes with 8mm. For the Chi Borg reverse camber we kept it at 6mm across the board on the 152, 155 and the 157 models for a slightly surfier feel than the Jib Stick. Both board designs tested really well.
What themes are you seeing for graphics?
We've seen some companies copy us like the Forum Throwback series that we just laughed at. We don't want to get into the " we were first" mentality or "you guys copied us" attitude. We just don't have enough time to care about what other companies are doing. Our graphics have to relate to snowboarding and not rich white kids that live in Vail claiming Compton to be home. The hippy shit is getting pretty played too. We are also seeing many companies jump on the environmental bandwagon more to cash in rather than to clean up. To put environmental quotes all over a piece of plastic, wood and fiberglass is pretty ridiculous.
"The stance on my new pro model is centered, the side cut as well as the core is twin. I also chose to go with a slightly directional nose shape. The result is that you get a board that rides like a twin in the park as well as rails, jibs, etc. and the nose will also stay above the snow in the pow. This combination is a perfect fit for my riding style." – Simon Chamberlain
What are price points doing?
Price points are always selling well. The Latch Key is our entry-level board and comes in at $299.00 USD. It is a true twin shape with a Wood/ABS core combination. The Powder Sucks board has been one of the best selling boards in our line and it also won a TransWorld Good Wood award last year. It is a true twin with a tip to tail wood core snowboard that retails at $359.00 USD. For the entry level boards we don't put as much into the materials, but they are still quality boards that we very rarely see any warranties on.
What market segment are you focusing on? How and why?
We are focused on all types of snowboarding but we aren't into selling discount boards to big box stores. Real snowboard companies go out there and help get snowboarding noticed. Then you've got big box sporting goods stores not putting anything back, but they are cashing in on snowboarding's popularity. If you buy a board from one of those stores then you aren't supporting snowboarding. We sell our boards to shops that believe in snowboarding and by doing that it supports the people that helped make this sport what it is. Why should the profit from a snowboard go into making a better tennis racket or camp stove?
What types of riding do you see leading sales next year (park, all mountain, etc) and why?
We think people in general want a board that works on as much different terrain as possible. We believe that it is possible to design a board that rides well in powder, on rails, and in the park. The Simon is the best example of a board that does it all. It has a twin core, twin stance and twin side cut but the nose tip is approximately 10mm longer than the tail. It keeps the nose above the snow in the powder but it doesn't affect the twin riding performance in the park or on rails. It is probably the most well rounded board in our line. We also cater to the powder specific with our OG tapered powder board and the Jib Stick and JP boards have done really well too. We place more inserts on our twin boards so that people can have the option to set the stance back a bit for powder days. It really just boils down to rider preference.
Not only do we want snowboarding to progress as a sport, we want the people that ride our boards to progress their riding abilities as well. If its JP Walker doing back 10 tails off backcountry cliffs or a 13 year old kid learning how to nose press a box we want people to tell us that our boards helped improve their riding. Nothing makes us happier than hearing that from one of our team riders or customers.