Australian snowboarding brand 3CS have been in the winter sports game for 15 years now. Their Sales Director, Jaye Botfield has answered some questions for SOURCE on their journey. Jaye explains the ups and downs a snowboarding brand from the southern hemisphere faces, and on top of our interview, 3CS have given us the exclusive to ‘THIS IS WHY’, their reflection on 15 years of the brand.
15 years making snow outerwear is a big achievement, congratulations.
Thank you, it’s been a long road with many ups and downs but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The last 15 years in the snow industry has seen some real interesting times, especially in snowboarding.
Yeah, we’ve lived the industry from the glory days right through the GFC, to a time now where most markets seem to be showing some consistency from year to year. Snowboard profiles have constantly evolved, snow fashion has constantly evolved but the one thing that has never changed over these years is our love for this industry.
3CS has been one of the most successful Australian snow specific brands to tackle the international market.
Obviously surf brands like Rip Curl and Billabong come from Australia and have snow programs but they were built from surfing. There are some great Aussie snow specific brands growing here at the moment so all our achievements could be short lived!
How does being based in Australia affect your production cycles? Do you run off a Southern Hemisphere sell-in schedule, or northern or both?
The production cycles between Hemispheres was a challenging process as 3CS grew. Initially having launched in the Southern-Hemi it worked well for us as it was during manufacturers’ quiet periods, so less issues with MOQs. After we launched 3CS in the NH (northern hemisphere) and sales volume grew we were forced to operate two seasonal production runs for one collection. This period for us was extremely challenging to manage. We had instantly doubled workload and were receiving increasing pressure from our manufacturers who were demanding higher MOQs (minimum order quantities). Luckily for us our NH distributor network had started to grow along with sales volume which in its self made the decision to make the big move to one NH production cycle.
In what ways does the Australian snowboard market differ from the other main global snowboard markets?
If we look at it purely from a country perspective, for the most part I don’t actually think the Australian market differs too much from most other countries that have a small snow market. At a retail level it’s extremely competitive for the brands and distributors that are trying to offer every brand available on the global market into a small market that realistically can only sustain a fraction of what’s on offer. At a seasonality level, our winters are much shorter than most NH markets with our ski resorts only open for four months in winter. At a rider level, there is some real exceptional talent that will standout anywhere in the world e.g. Scotty James, Tora Bright, Jye Kearney and Andy James.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of growing your brand based in Australia?
Being a small industry it doesn’t take long to know everyone. The Australian industry is filled with some really great people who will always show you their support if they believe in what you’re doing, even if they are your competitors.
The biggest disadvantage we have faced building 3CS over the 15 years is with trying to compete globally being predominantly funded by our small domestic market. We are extremely isolated along with opposite seasons from the rest of the global snow industry. If we had done everything exactly the same but had been based in Europe or North America I think the outcome would be very different for 3CS.
Outside your home market which is the best market for you and why?
Canada has been our longest and most involved distributed country. We’ve had two distributors over this time who have both been extremely passionate and supportive of 3CS.
Europe has been good to us and we have many friends there. We have a great distributor partner in Switzerland and are about to start looking for new partners in other regions.
The best market for 3CS outside of Australia would be Asia. We have fantastic distributor partners in Korea, China and Japan who understand 3CS and its strengths. I think the Asian people are very open minded with western brands and as long as it performs as it should and they connect with the brand itself they’ll give you all their support. We love visiting all parts of Asia but more so the Japanese pow.
What’s the plans for 3CS over the next 15 years?
We’ll keep developing our technologies and our “Built Tough” message. Delivering snow outerwear and other categories that our consumers, retailers and distributors trust and believe in. We’ll eventually have great distributor partners and retailers throughout Europe, and most importantly, we’ll keep having fun!