Born and bred in the San Bernardino mountains, WeatherMTN is the brainchild of industry vets Brad Walters and Travis Lanthier, who decided to pull the trigger two years ago and launch their own label.
“We both grew up in the San Bernardino Mountains in a time when it was thriving,” explains Lanthier. “Nineties snowboarding was happening there, The Lot Skatepark, weird tourism traps, ice hockey, great local punk bands—it had a soul and we remember this awesome place, it seems surreal when you look back on it. With WeatherMtn, our goal is to provide an unfiltered view of the mountain lifestyle we know. We want to incorporate all the quirks that make it tick.”
With a psychedelic mash up of inspirations ranging from outdoor vibes to archaeology and pottery, as well as reaping their roots in snow, skate, and artistic musings, the crew’s brand got its break when it landed floor space with Active Ride Shop. Since then, it has quickly picked up core accounts across the West and is on the eve of launching in Canada.
We caught up with the duo by email to learn more about the launch, line, and longitude of WeatherMTN.
Tell me a little about your backgrounds and your roles at WeatherMTN.
BW: I have been working as a creative in the industry since 2007. I currently work out of my home in Oceanside, California where I have an office and studio set up. Over the past six years, I have done design work for Active Ride Shop, Us Versus Them, and a few others. I am the creative portion of WeatherMTN.
TL: I have worked in a variety of different industries and have had a variety of different roles in each one. From finance to customer service, and summer snowboard camps to ski resorts. I currently am the Shipping Manager at Flow Snowboarding. I handle the business portion of WeatherMTN.
You guys are currently doing hats, hoodies, and T's. How would you describe the vibe and aesthetic of WeatherMTN?
WeatherMTN is this weird, do-it-yourself mix of the outdoors, psychedelia, shitty t-shirts, and ’90s skateboarding and snowboarding—all blended together with a little bit of humor.
Tell us about when you decided to pull the trigger on this and make it into reality.
TL: I was living in Mammoth at the time and Brad was in between jobs, so he was always up there surfing my couch. Mammoth was having a record snow year so we were just riding pow all the time and we had a lot of time to talk on every chairlift ride. We got started talking about stuff—Work, other brands, the state of the industry, et cetera—and figured we could come up with something ourselves. We wanted to tell a story and highlight the people and things we like. After that day, we just never stopped talking about it, the ideas evolved, and we eventually started making product.
Why did you think it would work?
We hope it works! (laughs) Making something that had to work wasn't really the intention going into everything. Our intention was to have something fun to work on and see where it went. We don't have any sort of obligations to live up to and I think that's why it's working. We focus on being original and telling our story one step at a time. Our only real goal/dream at this point is to make it our jobs.
You guys just launched two years ago and have already gotten picked up by Active – what was key to getting in with them and where else are you selling?
The guys and girls at Active are super supportive of what we are doing and we couldn't be more thankful. The key to it was befriending the people that work there, from upper management to the people in the shops. Establishing personal relationships with every one of our supporters is a big thing for us and is proving to be one of our strongest assets in obtaining a larger customer base. We are currently sold at eight Active locations and in their online store, LeRoy's Boardshop, Agency Boardshop, Bruisers, Exit Real World, and have a few more in the works as we speak.
What was key to ramping up to meet a large order like Active's?
It was definitely a little dose of reality. The key has been maintaining a consistent timeline and adhering to the deadlines we set for ourselves. We didn't stretch ourselves in terms of our capabilities, which is proving to be the best decision because there is something new everyday and we are learning how to be better one day at a time.
You guys rolled things out at Agenda Long Beach. Have you been at any other shows?
WeatherMTN has shown at Agenda Long Beach two times now. We will be at the one in July as well. A lot of time goes into creating our booth build outs so we are excited to get working on the next one. Come by and check us out!
What have been your three best sellers to date and why do you think those have been killing it?
TL: Our best sellers have been our Ranger hats, a full brimmed "bush hat." We have offered them in a few different colors and are about to release some new options. Out of the Ranger hats, the Acid Washed color way has been the standout thus far. The second best seller has probably been our “Wise” shirt. Currently this shirt is offered on a baseball 3/4 sleeve and Acid Washed Premium T and is available at most of our retailers and in our online shop.
Our other most popular item has been our Text Logo hooded sweatshirt and we are really thankful for that. It’s easy to sell a shirt with a cool graphic on it but it’s rad when we see people wearing our logo-based stuff because it lets us know that they are just down for what we are doing. We always get the most excited when we see a stranger running our logo.
These have been the most popular because they are something different than what is out there.
Tell me about your connection to the San Bernardino National Forest and mountains and how that place's vibe comes through in your clothes.
Both of us are originally from the San Bernardino National Forest. We both grew up on different sides of the mountain from Green Valley Lake to Lake Arrowhead. If you're familiar with the area you'll know that Green Valley Lake is more of a little "mountain town" and Lake Arrowhead is more of a resort area. The products that we are making have a lot of influence from things that we remember from growing up in those areas, whether those memories are real, fictitious, or somewhere in the middle.
We don't want people to take our name too literally though. Inspiration is definitely pulled from mountains and it's obviously in our name. But, with WeatherMTN we want to show the mountain lifestyle we know and the quirks that make it tick—not just hiking in the forest and stuff like that.
You've got some interesting collabs lined up for next season–tell us about what's in the works.
We are currently working with our friends over at Strange Times MFG on something awesome. We also have something scheduled to come out with our homies in Shepdawgs, the North County-based skate crew. There are couple other things in the works but it's a little too early to say anything.
What else will you be dropping next season? Any new categories?
For right now we really aren’t expanding into any new categories, just taking steps to make our current products better and better. At the next Agenda show we are going to be showing our Holiday 2013 and Spring 2014 seasons. People will be psyched to see the improvements we are making. Everything is out of our own shallow pockets so focusing on creating a customer base and telling our story one step at a time is what makes sense for us. We will break into new categories once our customer base merits it, for now its more important to get better at what we are doing and we think it will help us in the long run.
Why should retailers care about WeatherMTN? What sets you apart from other apparel/accessory brands out there?
We feel the customer can see and appreciate the efforts that we are taking to be original because so many brands don’t seem to care about that anymore. We are looking at WeatherMTN as a whole and figuring out how we can build our own, unique look with the resources that we have. In our opinion, the farther we get away from what other brands are doing, the better.
We aren’t looking at the industry and picking our favorite pieces from our favorite brands and combining them and there is something to be said for that. All of our graphics have a story behind them and they are all hand drawn. Our blog has all original photography as well; we don't re-blog anything except certain edits our team guys are in.
We're digging the Friends section of your website – there are some interesting stories spanning subjects from pottery to archeology. Tell us about this section and its goal.
The friends section is definitely a strong point of our website. It is a platform to showcase our friends that do things that other people might be interested in. Our first one was with our good friend that we grew up with Evan Mills. He had a promising snowboarding career growing up and decided to go a different route, Archaeology. He has a lot of good stories to tell and photos to share and we wanted to showcase him as a person. We leave it up to the featured person to decide how they want people to perceive them. We do some finishing work and post it up on the site. Our second one was with our friend's Jason & Drake, both master potters. We had a small run of hand thrown WMTN mugs that came out afterwards that we give to our new accounts. All of our special projects will be featured and released through this section of our website.
We have plans to incorporate our team guys into this section as well. We are developing a pretty solid snow team consisting of Johnny Miller, Jeremy Estorga, Oliver Dixon, Richie Conklin and a few other newcomers. Aside from their abilities on a snowboard, each of these guys encompasses qualities that make WeatherMTN stronger. This same approach will be taken to any skate, surf, artist, or regular joe we choose to work with. Each person will have their own profile and it will reflect their own personal style and interests. No cookie cutter questions or things like that.
The goal is to expose the customer to something they wouldn't have access to otherwise and to give our friends a place to showcase their work. By doing this we hope to promote brand awareness and help people better understand our vision with WeatherMTN.
We are in the midst of redesigning our website so that is taking up a lot of time. Preparing for the next tradeshow and pushing along with sales is always on the list. We are also super excited because we will be opening up our first international account in Canada for Summer ’13. We will also be working with a really talented guy, Mowgly Lee, on some projects that will bring our marketing to the next level. Taking one-step at a time, improving our weak points, and managing our time/resources effectively is our main focus.
What did we miss?
First and foremost we want to thank our customers for backing us from the beginning, can't do it without them. Esmail, Brent, and Todd and everyone else at Active Rideshop, Shannon from Agency Boardshop, Matt Miller at LeRoy's, Richard Mulder at Brusiers, Tyler Knotts, Andrew Massey, Agenda Tradeshow and TWBIZ for giving us an opportunity to do this interview!