You might have heard; we’ve been eating a lot of Korean food lately. We’ve also been busy celebrating the year of the Blue Horse with a spacious new office, beautiful spring line, and—yes—even new owners. The Korean-based, outdoor brand, Black Yak and Nau have officially tied the knot.
This week in the Thought Kitchen, we’re honored to sit down with Jun Suk Kang, Nau’s new President, to find out what’s ahead for Nau and Black Yak, what’s going to change, and what he thinks about being voted one of Portland Monthly magazine’s most fascinating dinner guests.
OTG: What compelled Black Yak, a Korean company, to purchase Nau?
Jun: It’s an interesting history. It started with my personal interest in the brand. I was in the States studying in 2006 and 2007 when I discovered Nau and this new concept of merging the outdoor and fashion markets. I really like the brand and kept my eyes on it over the years. Then last year, we found out it was for sale. The most compelling aspect of the acquisition is what we both bring to the table. Black Yak is a leading outdoor brand in Asia and we have the resources and infrastructure to make Nau a global brand. And Nau has a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation. We knew that if these two companies came together, we could do great things.
So it’s a merging of cultures, so to speak.
Oh yes, the cultural aspect is quite important. Because at Black Yak, we are good at long-term planning, organizational structure and analytical decision-making. Once we make a decision, we are fast and powerful. On the other hand, the Nau culture is more creative and idea-driven. It is free and flexible. Black Yak can adopt more of the creative ideation while Nau can adopt more organization and structure, which will be very synergetic.
So now that you’ve had six months with the brand, what aspects of the original vision will remain?
At Black Yak, we believe in Nau and in the overall concept and direction and do not want to change it. However, one of the only things that will change will be Nau’s exposure in the market. We want to deliver Nau to more customers in more markets.
I know a big question on the minds of our consumers is “Is Nau’s view on sustainability going to change?”
The sustainability part is one of the core values of Nau. It’s one of key concepts that sets Nau apart. There is no reason for us to change this or give it up. In fact, I believe we should be more focused on sustainable practices like fabrics, what manufacturers to work with, and how to be sustainable in the retail marketplace.
What’s your vision of Nau moving forward?
My vision is to make sure more people around the world know about Nau, what Nau stands for, and why you should choose Nau. My goal is to make Nau the best sustainable brand in both the outdoor and fashion market. I also want to make Nau the most fashionable brand in the outdoor market and the most functional brand in fashion market.
You recently sent out an email to the Nau team welcoming 2014 as the year of the Blue Horse. Why is this significant?
People in Asia believe that the blue horse represents stability, power, agility, stubbornness, perseverance and independence. It represents the beginning of something new. It’s also a very energetic, auspicious and passionate time to start new things. I have a very good feeling this year will be pivotal in Nau’s history. Bring on the year of the Blue Horse!
In December, you were featured in the Portland Monthly as one of Portland’s most fascinating people and someone they would invite to their holiday party. If we were to invite you, what should we serve?
I’m a big fan of Italian food. I’m also a big fan of wine. And good people, of course. Good food, good wine, good people. Another reason why I love Nau. Lots of great people.
At Nau, we value transparency in every aspect of our business. Do you have a question you would like to ask Jun? Send us your inquiries to [email protected] or post in the comments below, and we’ll select a few to feature in our next interview with Jun in the Thought Kitchen.
Words by Leighann Franson.