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I have always been interested in Coal, the winter accessories brand, and finally got a chance meet up with founder Brad Scheuffele at Agenda.
Brad started Coal in 2002 with a group of friends after finishing a career as professional snowboarder. His girlfriend's hand-knit beanies served as inspiration to start the company. Having spent some time in sales and marketing at M3 Snowboards, which had a successful beanie line, Brad realized there might be potential for a beanie-only brand.
He started the company with five partners out of his apartment in Portland, Oregon with no outside investors and no bank backing the company.
Today, the Coal is based in Seattle and has five employees based out of one office. The brand operates under the umbrella of C3-Worldwide, a company that distributes Capita snowboards, Union bindings and Coal headwear. All three companies including Coal are independently owned, but in the U.S., C3 does all of the back end sales, distribution, and customer service for the brands. Internationally, the brand works with distributors.
Brad said Coal specializes in keeping people warm. Coal mostly makes knits and wovens, hats, beanies, scarves, arm warmers, and gloves. Items in the Coal line range from $20 beanies and hats to $150 cashmere scarves.
Currently, the brand is sold in over 700 doors domestically ranging from higher end boutiques like Fred Segal and Blackbird in Seattle to core shops like Emage in Denver and Snowboard Connection in Seattle.
Besides boutiques and core store, Coal also does business with stores such as Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.
“We have been with Nordstrom for nearly four years and they have been a great partner to us,” said Brad.
Brad said the brand has grown steadily every year. For 2011, his focus is to keep growing at a steady pace. “I have no aspirations of being a small brand, but we want to keep growing naturally,” he said.
As for what’s new, Brad said he is excited about new products like The Quinn and the Simone in the Considered collection as well as The Mallard snap-back cap, the Stanley, and the Dakota earflap beanie in the Coal collection coming out soon.