Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview > Beta Clothing

There's a company that you may have noticed that pops up on our site from time to time; Beta Clothing. We have a long running relationship with them, pretty much from the start of climbingholdreview we've had most of our t-shirts printed by them; they took our logo and reworked it into what you see on the back of our shirts.

Beta has been a Tour De Bloc sponsor for some time and they're producing some products that stand out from the normal run of the mill products that you sometimes see. Let's have a chat and see what's what :)

1: Name and job.
David Smith, Owner / Director of Beta Clothing Designs Inc.

2: Beta is a Canadian clothing company, how long have you been operating?
Beta was established in 2001, just after I graduated from Industrial Design at OCAD in Toronto, however it really only got serious around 2005. Since then every year Beta has doubled in size and evolved into what it is today.

3: What's the goal of Beta?
To deliver quality products, at affordable prices WITHOUT cutting corners.

4: Any stand out products that you're really proud of?
The two-tone Tektonic zip hooded sweatshirt from last years fall collection is probably my most favorite as of yet. It was the first product of ours to truly explore original design and move in a direction that we could call our own. It was a very small step, but a huge success and the beginning for what is to come.

5: You sent us a bunch of Cadence shorts telling us that they'll last, they do! How long did they take to design?
Each product is a labour of love and takes a long time. I personally research the fabrics, develop the fit and style, develop the colour combinations, and create all of the artwork for each product. Essentially I am responsible for the whole package, overall I try to ensure that every product is truly the best it can be with the resources we have at hand.

6: We get our shirts printed by you, can you talk us through the design process step by step?
Everything we do, we do to the best of our ability…whether it is our custom collection or branded clothing for you guys we oversee and manage every step of the process to ensure the highest quality and the best results. For your shirts, we track down the suppliers, develop the artwork with the client (as you know) suggest ink colours and locations, we will go as far as to produce colour mock-ups of what the finished shirt will look like BEFORE anything happens. This way the client is sure they know what they are getting. We essentially take on all of the responsibility and headache that comes with developing and producing branded clothing and allow our clients to relax knowing that they simply place their order with us and can rest assured that the end result will be delivered on time, on budget and with the highest level of quality available. We try to make every project as stress free as possible; we know that our clients have better things to do, so we take on all of the responsibility to ensure that the final product is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, with no stress and no surprises.

7: You're also a Tour De Bloc sponsor, how did you come to fit with the climbing community? Are you a climber?
Are we climbers…ABSOLUTELY, Beta is currently staffed by some of Ontario’s strongest climbers and our team definitely includes some of Canada’s best. We have all been climbing for many years, and have been around the Tour de Bloc since its inception. You could say that Beta was born in climbing and has been raised in the city…We have been a Tour de Bloc sponsor for the last 6 years straight.

On a more personal note, I have been climbing for 10 years, I have climbed all over North America from here in Ontario to the New River Gorge (WV), The Gunk’s (NYC), The Red River Gorge (KY) and Mexico to name just a few. I trained and traveled most frequently with my younger brother Mark. My hardest red point is 5.13b (8a), though I was painfully close (last move of the crux) to my project at Lions Head, Lion King 5.13c/d (can’t claim it yet). I train twice a week in a gym and do cardio training and hot yoga on the side.

My goal is still to redpoint 5.14, which I know I am very capable of doing, though it is quite difficult to maintain that degree of fitness while managing a company as involved as Beta. I have told many of my friends that for now Beta is my 5.14 and when it is where it needs to be, it will be the greatest redpoint of my life. In the meantime I just want to maintain my fitness and enjoy all that is going on right now.

8: Being a clothing company, we know you sponsor a bunch of people (We'll we co-sponsor one of the athletes) who are they? Anyone famous?
As mentioned our company team boasts some serious talent, all team members contribute to the growth and development of the company on different levels based on their skill sets. But at the end of the day, Beta would not exist without the quality people that make it work. They are (in no particular order) Dustin Curtis (National Team Member), Bonnie de Bruijn (National Team Member), Daniel Martian (All round amazing climber, one of Ontario’s strongest climbers), Mark Smith (My traveling and training partner and again one of Ontario’s strongest), James Stuart (13 years of climbing), Frank Kocis (5 years of climbing) and myself (10 years of climbing).

9: What's new with the company this year?
What’s new with the company this year… everything!
We are just starting to roll out our newest products, definitely the best styles we have ever had to the opportunity to produce. We recently launched our new e-store and blog and both are kicking ass. Our clothing will be available in several Toronto stores starting October 1st and we are gearing up for the One of a Kind Show near Christmas. On top of all of that we cleaned up our branding, hired some more staff and most importantly signed on with the Tour de Bloc for another year, this time as a silver sponsor. Overall, we are gearing up for our best year yet and things are going very well…

9a: One of a Kind Show? Never heard of it.. care to explain?
The One of a Kind Show is a massive show that occurs twice a year, once in the spring and once for the Christmas season. It is Canada’s largest and most prestigious show where independent designers can showcase their products. The concept is that it specializes in one of a kind, small businesses; designers and artists that are independently trying to build a name for themselves in the marketplace.

It is an amazing show with an attendance of 150,000+ people for the Christmas show and it has always been one of the best ways for us to be able to meet and truly get to know each and every one of our customers. You build real relationships with the people buying your products, each season they come back to see what new products you have and how you have been. It is a very enjoyable way to do business and it allows all of our supporters to come and meet the design team, hear about the products and really learn what goes into making the clothing and building the business. We are very well supported at these events and we love it, people from all over Canada come to see what we have been up to.

If you have never been it is worth the experience, I believe for the x-mas show there are something like 500 different vendors. Again, it is a great experience for both the company and the customers, it allows us to put a face to our names and more importantly it allows us to shake the hands of every customer that comes out to support us. Something that I am very grateful to be able to do.

One of my goals when I started Beta was to always be accessible, I always want people to feel like they know me or someone from the brand. That’s why we love the Tour de Bloc as well, we set up at every event we can get to so that everyone can learn firsthand what we have been up to as a brand, I find it’s a far more personal way to do business with people and by far the best.

10: In five years, where do you want Beta to be?
Five years from now I want Beta to really be at the forefront of performance fashion apparel. Few people really understand what it takes to be creative in this industry and the time, energy and money it takes just to run the business, without trying to reinvent anything.

Every year Beta releases products that are far more creative and interesting than a lot of what is on the market. This will continue with each year passing, the only thing I want to see is the level of our creativity grow to such a degree that it truly becomes our reputation. I want people to see our designs and be blown away; I want our brand to be respected for doing things better than most and still keeping things affordable.

11: Where can people get your clothes? Is it just online or are there stores that they can go and see the products first hand?
As of October 1st of this year, we will have our products in three boutiques in downtown Toronto. We also frequent a lot of clothing shows and events; we will be attending all local Tour de bloc competitions with our team and a full selection of our newest styles. Lastly, we offer a personal shopper experience where we bring the clothing to you (Greater Toronto Area only) and there is our e-store. Remember that all of our products are guaranteed for life and we have a fantastic exchange and returns program. So if you are psyched to try our products and can only get them from our online store, relax knowing that if you aren’t truly happy with the product you can always send it back and we will makes things better.

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