Posted by: Necci – Dec 29, 2011
Virginia might be the last place you would expect to find a successful snowboard company, but Monument Snowboards is trying to redefine what it takes to be a successful snowboard brand. Based in Woodbridge, Monument has grown over the past ten years from a basement operation into a brand with distribution throughout the US, Canada, Japan, and Korea, and has worked with some of the more popular and accomplished artists of today.
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Board detail, Cleon Peterson, 10/11 Black Black
So what is the story behind starting Monument Snowboards?
The main premise for starting a snowboard company back in 2001 was because a lot of the companies I liked were dropping like flies. The core brands were getting swallowed up by the bigger companies, or they sold out and survived for another few years before they were run into the ground. I wanted to get behind a brand that I believed in, and there were none at the time.
Ten years in, how has being a snowboard company based out of Virginia worked out?
It's been tough. I came in as an outsider. I wasn't in the industry, and [the reaction was] “here is this guy from the DC metropolitan area that wants to start a snowboard company?” I've definitely learned a lot of things. Not a lot of people know this, but I have a day job. I do Monument at night. So trying to run a snowboard company after hours after working all day is not that easy. What's harder is making sure you don't run the brand into the ground. The snowboard industry is like the fashion industry; you could be big one year and then the next year you could be yesterday's news. But it's been a rewarding experience, and I have a nice extended family thanks to the snow sports industry.
Board detail, Cody Hudson, 11/12 FVK
One of the things Monument is best known for is working with well-known artists. What inspired that approach to board graphics?
It was an accident. We used a collective of artists from the Chesapeake area at the beginning for a few years, and then started to do it ourselves. We had some good graphics, but also some really bad ones. I ran out of time one year, and we needed graphics ASAP. A friend who was helping us with some graphics was dating [creative director] Christopher Glancy. He mentioned curating some boards, and I took him up on his offer.
As such a small company in the snowboard industry, how have you been able to work with the artists you have?
One of the hardest things to do is to give full creative control to someone curating a collection, especially in this industry. Chris's vision was solely on the art; to have a snowboard that can be hung up on the wall as a piece of art, and not have it bastardized by a logo or branding. Artists loved the concept, where no branding was our branding. We are lucky enough to have worked with the caliber of artists we have so far; and a lot of it was based on Chris's vision.
Monument Pro Jeremy Cline, VA. Photo: Nate Harrington
Not using logos is a pretty wild approach. Did that make it difficult to build a recognizable brand?
From a marketing standpoint it was a nightmare to brand our decks, but I went with it. Believe me, there were a few times where we butted heads to find a middle ground, but Chris stuck to his guns. And I stuck with him on it, because I knew it was something different that no one else was doing in the industry.
I heard one of the artists you worked with was into witchcraft?
Owleyes said he cast a spell on the board he designed. I showed the graphic to one of my riders at the time, and we were like "Holy Shit, he really did cast a spell on this board," and laughed for like five minutes straight on the phone.
Damn, that’s kind of crazy. Of all the artists you worked with, do you have a favorite design or favorite artist?
There are so many rad decks. My favorites include Maya Hayuk, Daniel Jackson (Surface2Air), Kelsey Brookes, Rammellzee, Cleon Peterson, Richard Colman, Dalek, Thom Lessner... I've nearly listed everyone.
Board detail, Surface To Air, 10/11 Surface To Air limited series
Along with your impressive artist lineup, you guys have brought in some pretty good riders over the years. How have you managed to keep such a stacked team?
We've been lucky enough to have Connor Stohlgren, out of Breckenridge, CO, as team manager. He's brought guys on board that we've been really stoked on. Jeremy Cline, from Massanutten, has helped tremendously over the years as well. We're a small company. We don't have a big budget like the big companies do. If we can be a stepping-stone for riders somehow, we're happy for the guys that do move on. The guys that we do have on board are stoked on us as a brand, as a family, and they love the product.
Entering your second decade, whats in Monument's future? Any big plans or goals?
Big plans or goals? Not to mess up. That's our biggest goal. We're expanding our product line each year; we want to grow organically and expand at our own pace. We don't want to go to the dinner table with our mouths bigger than our stomachs. We have to be realistic with the industry trends and economic situation, and be able to manage our business the right way.
Words by Rob Morgan
Top Image: Jeremy Cline, by Nate Harrington