71: Tribalism and Omnichannel Brand Development with Stephan Drake, DPS Skis

“We didn’t have any kind of traditional ski industry infrastructure or experience, per se. Our confidence came from our experience in the mountains and our knowledge of the actual equipment.”

– Stephan Drake

EPISODE PREVIEW:

How does an online DTC brand avoid detrimental conflict when opening a wholesale channel? What if that brand has no intention of closing its DTC business? There is a solution: transparency.

Today’s episode is a short and sweet masters’ class in agility, tenacity and the power of passion behind a strategy.

I speak with Stephan Drake, the founder and CEO of the core, boutique ski brand, DPS Skis. We discuss the challenges and the wins of putting the end consumer first for product innovation, multichannel distribution and content.

In 2003, not many brands were selling exclusively online, direct to consumer. On top of that, not many independent ski brands were challenging the big guns in the industry. To be fair, DPS Skis, had no intention of competing against the old guard. They were doing their own thing, in their own way. With a strong clarity of purpose, DPS would not only make waves in the industry, it would provide some key lessons in how to gracefully transition from single channel to multichannel. Doing so involved some serious agility and scrappiness.

There’s universal lesson in today’s episode. People—both consumers and retailers—CAN handle the truth. And everyone will be better off because of it.

GUEST PROFILES:

Stephan Drake

Stephan Drake is the founder and CEO of DPS Skis.

TOPICS COVERED:

Experiential retail, innovation, distribution, tenacity and entrepreneurialism, channel conflict avoidance and transparency, branded content solutions, innovation and Phantom wax technology, scaling new concepts for production

SELECT QUOTES:

“I was riding with a lot of pro snowboarders. I’d always loved the aesthetic of surfing. I was totally committed to the performance aspect of skiing. And that’s all just to say that we felt like we were at the tip of the spear of the sport at that point. And with that, we were pushing boundaries in terms of what the equipment could do.”

[On the original design of DPS Skis] “This all had nothing to do with building a business. It was just what I wanted to be riding on and the expression of the energy and power of the sport.”

“We didn’t have any kind of traditional ski industry infrastructure or experience, per se. Our confidence came from our experience in the mountains and our knowledge of the actual equipment.”

[On opening wholesale accounts in addition to DTC online sales] “[Retailers] came in with eyes wide open. It wasn’t as much of a channel conflict at the beginning, because it was very transparent [that we would continue to sell DTC]. There was no precedent before that would create any conflict.”

CONNECT:

DPS Skis

DPS Video Content

DPS Booth at OR/SIA 2019: #36061-UL

Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn

AS MENTIONED IN EPISODE:

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