FRENDS CO-FOUNDER KEIR DILLON TALKS ABOUT THE FRENDS BRAND & THEIR NEW LINE OF HEADPHONES
In 2006, a group of the most talented snowboarders came together to form the Frends Crew. Based on the philosophy “there’s no ‘I’ in Frends” they were quite simply, “bros” who rode and traveled together. While they each maintained their individual personailities, the group celebrated their joint passion for life through sport, art, music and fashion. The crew is made up of riders including: Mason Aguirre, Mikkel Bang, Danny Davis, Keir Dillon, Scotty Lago, Jack Mitrani, Luke Mitrani and Kevin Pearce. But what began as a group of professional snowboarding friends has since blossomed into a successful business. The Frends brand has built itself from the ground up, transitioning from making videos and writing blogs on their Website to developing product, in particular, a line of headphones. With a mindset of bringing creativity and innovation to the music marketplace, the guys have already achieved much success.
A Glam Slam had the chance to chat with Keir Dillon, one of the founders of Frends, to discuss the evolution of the brand, their new line of headphones, the design process, and what’s next for the Frends Crew. Check it out:
The Frends Crew has been around for awhile now. For those who may not know, who is a part of the Crew and how/when did it come about?
It is myself and six other friends and we created it five years ago. We just decided that we wanted to start kind of a company, or a brand that was based around “there’s no ‘I’ in Frends.” This idea that no matter how good you got in life at your sport, that it truly was all about the reason we got into it, which was being out there doing it with your friends and having a good time. It was just the simple idea of really traveling and enjoying it with your friends because that seems to have gotten lost in a lot of sports because of the competition level.
How did you transition from a group of ‘Frends’ into a successful business? Was the intention always to develop product?
Yes, I think the idea was to do product. I think the more the brand started to come to life, the more respect we wanted to give it and it took a long time to finalize the product. Just as with our snowboarding careers, we take everything seriously. If we are going to put our names on something, we want it to be solid so it really took awhile to figure out what made the most sense. You know, if we’re going to do a product we want to do it better than what other people are doing and that just took a lot of time to figure out.
Why did you decide on headphones? What was the mentality behind that?
I’ve been wearing headphones for over a decade and a half. We all play different instruments, we love music, it’s so a part of our lives and we just felt there was a void in the market of what was being offered. Even Skullcandy at the time hadn’t created their own headphones, everything was OEM, which means taking other people’s headphones and putting your name on it. We saw an opportunity to pedal a different story and we still feel that that’s in the market and that’s what excited us. To be able to design a t-shirt better than Calvin Klein, it’s just really not as exciting because it doesn’t seem as possible, where creating a better headphone for our consumer is more in line with our design philosophy. What we needed to do was totally doable and that just excited us.
There is no “i” in the Frends Crew. Does that mean you all have an equal role/input when it comes to new designs?
Yes, I mean clearly within the true business aspect everyone has their own role and what they bring to the table as far as Jack [Mitrani] being the leader across all of the videos and Danny [Davis], he definitely drives more of the colors and styles of the headphones. Everyone has their talents which is what keeps it fun, but it’s a collective unit where I think “there’s no ‘I’ in Frends” means there’s no hierarchy. If I win, you win or if I don’t win for awhile than cool, you better be winning. It’s not a team where you have one leader or that sort of thing.
For the second collection, you’ve now expanded the crew to include surfers and artists? How has that impacted the new offerings?
The philosophy of Frends cultivated in snowboarding but it’s one that we feel transcends every aspect of life, culture, sport, and to bring up surfers was amazing. We were able to align with four guys that are totally in line with living their lives how we do and it felt right to be brought into the scope of Frends. From the beginning it was always a very inclusive vibe. If you’re down with living how we do than we’re down with that, that’s awesome, either come hang with us or go hang with your other friends. So it’s really moved into more music and surfing and some other projects we have on the way and it’s definitely exciting.
How is the new collection different of more improved than the first one?
Like anything, when you do it the first time you have a lot to learn so with this collection, we’ve redone about 85% of it. We’ve been able to learn, okay, what do consumers expect from the products, where do headphones break, how do we design into those and how can we tell different stories. The Light was completely designed from the ground up, The LightWire has been completely redesigned, all of our cables have been redesigned. So it’s definitely been a lot of work redoing our first line and improving it and we’re excited to offer products that we feel are way above industry standards of what normal headphone companies put their factories through. So if the test on a mic is 1x, we challenge that to get to 3x so that when ripping it out of your bag, it’s not going to break. Like anything in life, learn from your experiences in designing it better.
What does 2012 look like for the Frends Crew? Do you have plans to expand product offerings?
We feel the brand has the breadth to expand into bags and cases and our philosophy as a company is more like a Virgin Records where Richard Branson started with a record store and now it’s travel. So in the grand scheme of things, we want to keep an open mind to delivering more of a feeling for a product and not really being limited by what products we choose so I think anything is possible. But in the near future we definitely want to stay focused on making the best headphones that we can and expanding to relative products like accessories and cases.
Personally, you have now gone from riding to behind the camera to design.
I just want to keep learning. It’s been such a blessing to have been an athlete for a decade and a half, two decades, to be able to do the TV work and now with the business, to continue to be inspired by great people that I work with. I’m just excited to have this brand to tell the story of true design and rethink distribution strategy and the product and marketing. I feel like day one at the start of a marathon of good times.
The Frends headphones were created to merge both style and function, taking cues from the crew of athletes themselves. The products are designed, tested and built to meet the highest standards. Among the new additions is ‘The Light’ headphone, which utilizes the brand’s TAP control technology. A soft touch on the right ear cup will allow wearers to flip through their music or take calls. The design is minimal, yet unique and customizable options are available as well. The headphones retail for $99 and you can grab a pair here. Check them out:
‘The LightWire,’ or The Light’s little brother, focuses on sound and simplicity. The headphones are durable and block out the noise and confusion that distracts you from hearing what you want to hear, while a variety of color options keep the design cool and fresh. Retailing for $50, they are available here.