Industry Profile: Solstice Supply Founder Justin Clapick
24 Aug, 2010
Job Title: Founder
Years on snow: 17
Days on snow: 60 + p/year
Currently Riding: Lib Tech Jamie Lynn
Currently I am: Geeking out on Microsoft Word
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Justin: 30 years old. Born and raised in San Diego, CA. Moved to Bend, OR in 2004. I enjoy long walks on the beach, writing limericks and the occasional haiku.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Justin: Snowboarding to me is the truest expression of creativity and self-expression. Having the luxury of being so close to the mountains and operating the best snowboard shop on the planet is a blessing that I am thankful for every day.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Justin: I was coaching at Mt Bachelor and along the way was fortunate to meet a lot of great people. Most of the kids I was coaching were brand new to snowboarding who didn’t necessarily have the best equipment. I remember one day in particular when some parents sent their kid out with jeans, flannel, no goggles, no beanie and some knit gloves in near white-out conditions. By the end of the day, this kid was frozen head to toe BUT was still all about it! Most kids would have called it quits. I always think back about those kids who would end up being total rippers only if they had the necessarily means. Snowboarding is not cheap and I set out to lower the barriers of entry and give back any way I could.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Justin: Being young and able to work/live in the mountains was something I always wanted. After high school I was eager to start-up my snowboard endeavors, but in the back of my mind I knew college was something I had to do. Call it the fall-back plan, but I wasn’t about to start college as a thirty-year old and be that weird old dude in class. College was sort of a reality check for me, as most people seemed to take it way too seriously and I wasn’t about to be that guy. I always knew I wasn’t going to follow the typical college path upon graduation. – – My heart was set on snowboarding and I had to finish what I started before the next chapter of my life.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Solstice Supply and a description of the work you do?
Justin: Solstice was started in 2006 out of my mom’s garage. I took on 25K in credit card debt and hoped to god things would work out. At the time I had very limited experience in web coding / design, but I was dedicated to make this work one way, or another. Getting this project underway was my creative expression for having to forfeit the previous 6-years to college, when I truly wanted to be slashing powder mounds in the forest. I haven’t looked back since and I truly appreciate all of the people who have helped along the way.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Justin: My people will either hate me, or envy me because I don’t have a schedule. I typically sleep in to the late morning hours, start the coffee and feed /play with my Great Dane Chole. I like to chill out for a while before I start any work as it helps me find direction in my day. I use my flexibility as a way to keep the pressure off , and channel the energy towards getting things done smoothly and efficiently. Now things are quite different on a pow day, as I am up at 8am and out the door.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Justin: The people. One of the more interesting experiences was rapping out with Mike Olson, the founder of Lib Tech. He epitomizes what snowboarding is all about — Putting everything on the line, taking risks and doing it for the love. He genuinely cares about the direction of the industry and as an early adapter, is willing to try unorthodox designs / shapes to help stoke out the rider. He blazes his own path and does not follow trends, or rip the competition as many snowboard companies do these days. He’s pretty much a hero in my book.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Justin: The future is snowboarding is very bright. A small batch of companies have returned to their roots and are run independently like they were back in the day. This movement is happening at a pretty fast clip. Those that are able to operate this way will be able to sustain and help reshape the snowboard industry over the next 10-15years. Holden Outerwear is a perfect example of this “return to home” mentality as they recently broke away from K2 Sports in 2007. The future has never looked brighter for Holden and their ultra-talented group of riders!
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Justin: If you had to twist my arm, I’d say Experience. While education is important, education alone won’t get you very far without the experience to back it up. Now kids…stay in school, but learn as much as you can on the streets of hard knocks.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Justin: If you’re genuinely interested to help make snowboarding better for everyone around you, I’d say that’s a good start. Don’t be selfish, be true to yourself, and be willing to make sacrifices along the way.