As a transplant from the Coast, I’ve been missing my water fix. Now that the weather has turned nice here in Portland, it’s finally time to get back out there. My favorite water craft is the standup board I brought with me from the beach. It’s the perfect combination of workout device and pleasure craft. I’m sort of surprised that there aren’t more people out there on these things.
Like most retailers, we find ourselves in the business of seeing our business through the lean months after the first of the year. Scrambling to make sales, and trying to convince people to buy our stuff after the feeding frenzy of the Holiday season has abated.
It’s particularly true this year, when it seems that with the wheels coming off the economy and everyone holding their collective breath, we retailers find ourselves trying just about anything to capture reluctant customers, who are caught in the headlights of an oncoming recession, and unwilling to spend.
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and take a look at this from a different perspective. A little consideration when it comes to consuming, and profiting from that consumption is maybe just what we need right now.
About 8 months ago, Nau was living beyond its means. We had to re-examine our actions, scale back our operations and get a grip on our fiscal ambitions.
Though quite painful, it was the only thing we could do to survive. To be sustainable.
This economic climate is going to require just such an examination in businesses all across the country. We’re hoping that our actions earlier this year will allow us to operate efficiently enough to survive the coming attrition in the retail marketplace, but we won’t survive on efficiency alone. We need to provide product and service that is substantively better. Because now that people are buying less, they’re going to expect more. They’re going to be sure that what they do buy is going to serve their needs and last them a long time, and they’re going to buy from companies they trust and believe in.
It’s the new value equation- Products with the combination of aesthetic appeal, suitability to task, longevity in style and function with the lowest environmental impact. Businesses that act with transparency and honesty, valuing the relationship over the transaction.
Those companies that live by these criteria will be the ones to survive. And we’ll all be better off for it.
Maybe now, more than ever, it’s time to spread the word- about simplifying your life, about living within your means, and about the act of making considered choices over conspicuous consumption.
It’s time for a new value equation.
From the lofty vantage of the Sierra, Cascades or Rockies, the ‘high peaks’ of New Hampshire’s White Mountains can seem like a little bit of a joke. After all, while western peak-baggers tick the summits of ‘fourteeners’, those of us who grew up among the aged and glacier-worn peaks of the east had to be satisfied collecting the more modest mountains of the four-thousand-foot club. And though I was raised scrambling among those peaks”whose names, like Lafayette, Madison, Chocouroua, bespeak their colonial scale”I have to confess that a half dozen years spent in the shadow of mountains nearly two miles taller had begun to wear off on me.
So it was a bit of a reeducation in Northeastern Weather to find myself squinting into the teeth of an October snowstorm last week, hiking at a mere 3,800′. Low on the flanks of Mt. Washington, only halfway up the cobble-strewn trail to Tuckerman’s Ravine, my hiking partner and I pulled on jackets and gloves as light flakes began to fall. As we climbed higher the clouds dropped to meet us, and fog ghosted about the talus as the storm flung sharp flakes against our faces. Soon, we had to pause at each cairn to pick out the next trail marker among the rhime ice. By the time we reached the summit, two inches of snow had fallen, and the summit had taken on the aspect of an antarctic expedition camp.
It was a short storm, clearing shortly after we began our descent from the summit, but it offered a reminder of the joys, and challenges, of the coming season. Back in Portland, Mt. Hood gleams under fresh coat of winter white, and from Boulder to Mt. Bachelor friends are seeking out the first tracks of the season. Winter’s coming. And, if Mt. Washington is any indication, you don’t have to go high to find it.
This post was submitted by former Nauian and frequent contributor, Alex Hamlin, who was recently back East to compete in the Head of the Charles and took some time out to do a little climbing. Thanks Alex.
It’s been a busy couple of months in Webland. We began design of a new site back in February or so, and were literally days away from launching when the word came down that we were closing our doors. So, one of the first things we had to do in order to get back in business was to try and get that new site back on track. Our partners at ZAAZ have worked with us to modify the front end design to reflect the needs of the new Nau, and have teamed up with our brand new partners at ZaneRay who are producing the back end, requiring a substantial amount of work to integrate the two.
Once having assured one another that the two systems were indeed compatible, August has been spent in trying to take all the content we’ve been able to acquire and/or produce and load it into our new web architecture. We’re hoping to have that done in the next ten days or so, and then begin testing the new site, with an eye to a fully functional site experience by October.
The image attached offers a peek into the new design. Faster, more user-friendly, with a lighter overall look and feel. A good reflection of the new Nau we think.
The Fall samples are starting to arrive, and we’re making sure that everything’s on track. Jenny’s checking the waistband sizing. Lucy’s on inseams. Everybody has their job to do.
A brand may be birthed by individual inspiration, or it may be the product of a small collective of like minded individuals. Reflecting the look and feel of a brand however, takes a village. In this episode, we want to shed some light on the network of contractors responsible for the process of creating the photographic reflections of our brand.
Marcus Swanson and his crew at Swanson Studio, here in Portland are the talents behind our studio photography (above left). Going into the studio allows us to show every detail of every product in a highly controlled environment. These guys are masters, blending artistic sensibilities with state of the art imaging technology.
When we head out into the field, we rely on a small group of shooters that can capture the experience of moving effortlessly between urban settings and the wild. Ben Moon, Daniel Sharp, Jimmy Chin, Tim Kemple, Gabe Rogel (shot on the right, above) and Anthony Georgis have been helping us to evolve our look and feel, each contributing their individual perspectives to form a mosaic of a more integrated outdoor experience.
Herding all these cats, both in the studio and out in the field, has been the job of our director of photography, EugÃ©nie Frerichs. After Nau closed its doors last May, Eug took off for the U.K. She’s been cycling throughout England, Wales and Scotland. (Look for her photos in an upcoming post).
Luckily enough, we’ve been able to talk her back to Portland for a few weeks to help us work through the process of rebuilding our image program for Fall.
So now as we head into August, we’re sitting down with the folks above who’ve produced photos for Fall ’08, and just like the process with the factories and fabric partners we talked about in an earlier post, we’re hoping to purchase a selection of the assets that were produced. The shots above are samples of the great Fall imagery that you can expect to see in the coming months.
Rebuilding the relationships with our key vendors, contractors and partners for change is now our highest priority. The first order of business will be to identify all the assets that were in various stages of development when we closed our doors. Assets that were built, but not yet paid for. Rather than starting from scratch, we’re hoping to purchase some of that work in progress. Not all of it, because we’re a much smaller nau, but a selection of products that will continue to reflect our design philosophy, like the Modus Jacket above. Starting at the top of the product development food chain, we’re focusing on raw materials and sewn garments. Jamie, Andrew, Jolie and Gordon are heading to Asia over the next two weeks to meet with our factories and fabric suppliers, hoping to get back on their production calendars. While there, they will engage in a series of conversations about where things stand, introducing the new team and determining what support might be available to us at this late date.
Next stop- Creative assets. We’ll be meeting with the partners involved with the images, copy and graphics that comprise our look and feel.
Mark and Josie were the voice of nau to anyone who happened to call in looking for product, checking sizes, or just interested in shooting the breeze. They were the go-to couple for everything nau, and then some.
While you can still find Josie manning the phones, Mark decided it was time to take off the headset and get outside for awhile. He’s currently working the summer salmon run up in Alaska, and hopes to make enough money to fund his lifelong goal of traveling the entire length of the Americas- From Alaska to the tip of South America, by van. Along the way he’ll be gathering photographs for his new site entitled FACE OF AMERICA so we can all keep in touch as he journeys south, and with any luck, we’ll be featuring some of Mark’s work on future installments of the collective.
As we transition from Nau 1.0 to Nau 2.0, there are a number of milestone events that are critical to achieving our goal of being back on our feet by October.
The first step in this process was the search for a partner interested in purchasing the remaining assets of the company, and willing to invest in the future of the brand.
Enter Horny Toad. We spoke about them briefly on our homepage, but it bears additional mention here. When we went looking for help in keeping this thing going, we started by looking at companies who understood our business, and were equipped to take on the financial challenges of getting us back up and running. We found so much more than fiscal stability though, when we entered into a partnership with the Toads. They are a great group of like-minded individuals who believe deeply in doing the right thing, and are having a helluva lot of fun doing it.
We’ll keep our separate identities, but will be sharing some back end functions, like finance and HR and that sort of thing. Best of all, we get to play in the same sandbox- the Lizard Lounge here in the Pearl, will be the retail venue for Nau, Horny Toad and several other alternative/outdoor brands.
We’re psyched to be part of the family.
It’s a pieced together cruiser; a hold over from my former life at the beach. It’s not much to look at, but it’s like riding a La-Z-Boy recliner. I put the fender on when I moved to Portland, ’cause it rains here sometimes.
It has become the go-to bike for the design studio. A collective bike for a collective of folks, getting pedal time whenever an errand must be run, or someone just needs to get out and glide around for awhile. Like right now….