It’s always great to see Snowboarders start their own companies and Canary Cartel are doing things the right way. The brand was formed by a close knit of friends who are known for their passion of snowboarding and the end result is a rider-driven brand that has been created from love, hours of testing in the park and without question a few beers as well. Setting up a company is no easy task but after speaking to the Canary Cartel founders it’s obvious that they are close friends with a drive to make a difference in this industry. They have started out in the business strongly and it’s exciting to see the company develop. Here is their story.
Canary Cartel is an interesting name, where does this name come from?
When we decided to start the brand, we thought about a name that would match our vision quite a lot. We wanted something that no one would expect, which should simply make that new thing special! After many brain farts, we got back to the ingenious idea of our homie, who once came up with Canary (big shoutout to Manu!) and we added the Cartel because we are a rider-driven brand. So even though none of us nor snowboarding has anything to do with the Canary Islands, let alone canary birds, Canary Cartel still shows the many facets of our brand: the fun side, the fam side, the dangerous side haha
Who initially came up with the idea to start Canary Cartel and how quickly did these ideas become reality?
The starting shot of Canary Cartel was the European shutdown of my previous board sponsor. Ross was the former European brand manager and we were figuring out what to do. We didn’t want all of our achievements we loved so much go to waste. That is when me (Kirschi AKA Christian Kirsch) and Ozzy (Fritzsche) talked to Ross about starting something new. He was immediately down for it, and so the Canary Cartel was born two years ago in 2018.
Who is involved in Canary Cartel and what are the individual roles?
Christian Kirsch is the brand manager. Oskar Fritzsche does some designs, run sales, does some office work, does events and much more. Rasmus Nielsen and Simon Houlind do designs and are in charge of the motion projects. Ross does all production and design-related stuff. He has been into the industry for over 20 years, so he has the experience make things work. Last but not least, there’s also PJ Ganz who currently spreads the word in Canada. Jack Errichiello simply makes the noise.
Did any of you have an experience in working for a brand or are you learning as you go along?
I (Christian Kirsch) worked in the snowboard retail industry all my life, and Ozzy also got a foothold there early in his lifetime. Simon and Ras bring along experience and know-how in their creative fields. Nati Millman, my lady, helps us out with all the copyright works. Ross basically covered all the roles in the industry. So yeah, all together, we didn’t jump in at the deep end and that’s the reason why we didn’t turn elsewhere to find a new home but started #thatnewthing.
What made you start the brand and what gap are you hoping to fill?
We looked around and we couldn’t see any brand that reflected our vision of snowboarding. Firstly, we’re a very unique mix of different flavors, and that’s what makes Canary special for us. Every fan of ours just adds to this mix, so far, we’ve already got 2k OG ingredients in our pot. So think about Canary Cartel as your homie brand! We want our unique riders to feel at home, they are part of the Canary fam. Second, we’ve felt that it’s hard to get good quality boards for a reasonable price because we are snowboarders first! We know snowboarding is expensive, so we want to offer high quality boards at a very fair price. Where do we shave money off? In our margin and by doing most of the things in house. We are multi-purpose boys, like Bob the Builder, which is why we can carry out most of the tasks ourselves. On top, we’ve also found the right production partner, which makes the dream come true.
Who is on the team and will you be adding anymore riders?
The team consists of Oskar Fritzsche, Simon Houlind, Rasmus Nielsen, PJ Ganz, Jack Errichiello and me. Fun fact: Beside Ozzy, we were already riding in the same team prior to Canary. We were a tight family, so we simply stuck together under a new flag. In addition, we already have a few ambassadors that ride Canary through shops deals. Of course, we have a long list of people we’d love to have with us, but first we need to take care of our crew. But we’ll certainly look around and get new juice for the future, so stay tuned.
Where are the boards produced and why did you choose this factory?
Meditec, Tunisia. We’re working with them because they produce amazing boards. Furthermore, they’re quite close to Europe so in case there’s an issue, we do not have to go on a world tour. Besides, board shipping is quick thanks to the geographical proximity.
Setting up a brand is a lot of work from test events to making edits etc, how have you found the process?
Actually, we’ve already been into the snowboard business for a while. What’s different though with an own brand is that you have to take care of the big part which precedes the distribution. Especially in times like these, this whole process is harder than ever, but we feel that people need a fresh brand to get down with.
You’ve just had your first year on prebooks how has year one gone?
We’re the luckiest. We debuted at Shops 1st Try 2020 which happened in a not so amazing season, with Covid-19 knocking at the door just at the end of the sales campaign. But we can’t complain, we did good business for being the smallest fish in the pond, even though we don’t have any directional boards in the quiver haha… Also we received a lot of good feedback from testers and worldwide dealers. We definitely look forward to next season!
What can we expect to see at Canary Cartel in the future? Where would you like to see the company in 5 years?
Always here with our feet stuck in the good old Europe, trying to push for more affordable yet sustainable and fun boarding. We especially try to incorporate the sustainable dimension with regard to the riders. They should find a good and long-lasting plank to have tons of fun with. You know, they should have butterflies in their tummies when snowboarding! Additionally, we’d like to have some more models in the quiver and hopefully bindings, too. We are sure that your second or third beloved Canary board already comes with hot and tropical Canary bindings.
This is a tough year for the industry, how has that affected Canary cartel?
Of course, we were hit by the situation. Luckily for us, our accounts are very loyal and keep supporting us, which we really appreciate. For now, we’re just dealing with it and hope for a better 21/22.
Which stores currently sell Canary Cartel?
We have stores in Germany, Austria, France and Italy. In Switzerland we have a proper distributor. We’re also looking to land in Asia as we celebrate the whole Far East market, so we’d love to get into it.
Anything else you would like to add?
YOU ALL ARE THE CANARY CARTEL. Thanks a lot for the spotlight Pyramid!