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Frends after its freshman season

By Shelby Stanger
June 29, 2011 7:47 AM

We caught up with CEO Keir Dillon and President Eric Kotch about the new headphone company Frends and how the brand has evolved since its debut over a year ago.


Keir and his fellow “Frends” are professional snowboaders who created an online community before they ever created a product. Eric is a Burton veteran with lots of business experience.


(To read more about the interesting way Frends started, which really speaks to the power of online communities, see our previous story on the company.)


Now that Frends has officially been out in the market, how is business?

Danny Davis, Keir Dillon, Eric KotchFrends and professional snowboarders Danny Davis and Keir Dillon, with industry veteran and Frends President Eric Kotch at Agenda. Shop-eat-surf file photo.

To give you the quick answer, the whole thing has just been surreal! It’s one thing to have an idea of creating a company, it’s another thing to actually implement those ideas, to build a brand that has the support of our industry, and the support of our loyal fans and customers making it actually happen.


We have learned so much and have grown so exponentially over the past year, this has made us much more excited about the future. Now we are taking what we have learned and implementing that knowledge into the refinement of all aspects of our business.


Any key lessons learned from the launch? 

To never compromise and always stick to what you believe.


It has always been our goal to tell the Frends story (that being “There’s no I in Frends”) through our products, to innovate within this space and to offer something that people will be excited about. When creating or challenging the ways products are designed and built, there always seems to be the opportunity to compromise staring you in the face, teasing you to take the easy road. This is a road that you cannot follow, there is no room for compromise.


We quickly realized that every interaction a person has with the brand (product, people, etc.) has an imprint that shapes their impression of Frends. It is our job to hold that impression to the highest standards.


What new retailers have you picked up? Where are you expanding? 

We were fortunate to have aligned with some great retailers that spanned the U.S. right out of the gate. Zumiez, Val Surf, and the Burton flagship stores, to name a few, all came on board early and supported us when we really needed it.


We are focused on our existing accounts and deepening our relationships with them. As for expanding, clearly we are excited to continue to grow and expand with partners like Sun Diego that are willing to help support a new company and position us in a way that allows us to properly tell our story to our consumers. Recently, we opened Turntable Lab in Brooklyn, New York; Mob Factory in Evergreen, Colorado; Wheels and Waves in Wells, Maine; and Asylum in Oceanside, Calif.


Are you just selling domestically or internationally as well? Also, are you biggest on the West or East Coast?

We have a sales and marketing office in Amsterdam that manages 14 countries in the EU. We also have distribution in Japan, Korea and Australia/New Zealand.


Due to our snowboarding heritage and the roots of the brand, we’re strongest on the East Coast. We also have a good presence in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and the Rockies.


With other headphone brands dumping buckets of marketing/sales dollars into Southern California, we have chosen to focus on regions and retailers where we can create true partnerships and grow a solid retail base for the brand to grow from.


See Page 2 for more about Frends



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