ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: HIGH SOCIETY

Jason Flynn, Co-Founder of HS. P: Jordan Curet courtesy of High Society

Jason Flynn, Co-Founder of HS.
P: Jordan Curet courtesy of High Society

Who are you and what are you about?
Me? Or High Society? I'll assume you mean HS and answer it that way, although the two stories have a lot in common. HS is the Aspen based ski and snowboard company. If anybody is turned off that I said skis you can stop reading now. If you're still polarized on the two, I get it and I'm not hating. Me and my friends are just on a different vibe. When we started, we were High Society Snowboard Company. We made some nice snowboards and our community immediately embraced us, but they asked us for skis. It was 2003 and fat twin tip skis were coming on strong and some of our shred buddies were making the move. So, we made skis for them so they could be on HS too. And since then, we've gone and made stuff for our friends who are into biking, SUPing, skating, and more.

We are just doing our thing over here in Aspen. We have a loyal following that loves us for our honesty and realness. We aren't for everybody. We aren't like the others . Do we make our gear in house? No. We partner with Never Summer because we love their philosophy and approach to the industry and they are known for building some of the best quality snowboards in the world. Why? Because every person in their factory gives a shit about snowboarding and even skiing (to an extent, I think only one of those people is an actual skier).

Where are you based out of? 
Aspen/Snowmass, CO.   

What do you do to support snowboarding?
We try to remind folks why snowboarding matters: The fun, the serenity, and the flow. We support SB centric media like SBCO. We manufacture with one of the most core SB factories in history, Never Summer, and keep it CO local. We offer an option to riders looking for something different and reachable. We are out there on the hill doing the demos, connecting directly with the people. We watch and listen to our shred community and respond positively. When we were asked to make a park board, we did. We were told we needed a camber board, you got it. We had requests for smaller grom boards -  we brought you the Gromzai. We keep the line tight so each board feels custom to the individual. We don't believe in having 20 different boards with umpteen different types of camber profiles; it’s a waste. We try and build gear that’s durable enough to ride for a few seasons, even under the hardest riders around, so fewer boards end up in the landfill. Lastly, but not least - we work with Colorado-based artists for our graphics, tapping some of the coolest, most talented people we have ever met. Next year's graphics will feature some well known Denver artists and we are so pumped to be working with them.

Clear up the worst misconception about your brand.
Where do I start? According to one guy on a snowboard internet forum, we are a squandered trust fund. According to another we are super-douches from Vail. Another account says we are a cheap version of Never Summer. There was/is no trust fund. We made this work with what we had at the time. I did property management and my partner delivered newspapers and tended bar while we got this thing off the ground. We shed a lot of tears and sweat making this thing happen, and along the way we made some awesome friends and partners who are the best partners anybody could ask for. We OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) with NS and we are up front about it. We were stoked when they said they would make our boards and skis for us. We advertise that our product uses their technology and is made by the same people. We use the highest-grade materials we can get and NS makes sick product for us, but it doesn't ride the same as NS. It's not NS. Snowboards are built in the same general method around the world and what sets them apart is materials/shape/flex/camber profile and intention. 

"NS makes sick product for us, but it doesn't ride the same as NS. It's not NS"

Snowboard company owners that snowboard, that can't be a bad thing.

Snowboard company owners that snowboard, that can't be a bad thing.

What do you see as the biggest problem in snowboarding?
Greed. First of all, we sell toys to folks with extra time and money to shred. Let's face it; this isn't a poor person's hobby, but when we were broke we always found a way. Whether it was working for a pass, riding hand-me-down gear, or selling the car to have money for a fresh kit; my friends and I always found a way to make it happen, and we haven't forgotten those lean days. I’m always hooking people up when I can to make it possible for them to have a fresh deck for the season. Sometimes that means finding a used demo to sell them, or pointing them to one of our dealers I know is running a sale or whatever. We get creative.

Another thing is we don't believe in trashing another brand to sell a HS. It's just not how we do things. If HS is the right board for you, we will figure that out. If it's not, we will let you know and get you on something you will have fun on. When you are dropping in, you have to feel confident to ride well. HS decks are as good as anybody’s and some say they are the best. Every company out there is making great gear, and boards are just one component. Technology, build quality and philosophy are all part of the brand and make the experience what it is. We believe in snowboarding and in everybody making it. It's a small industry, it fits in the Denver Convention Center and it's not to be taken too seriously. It cures depression, not cancer. Additionally, we believe in building our gear domestically and paying living wages to the folks doing the dirty work. Some boards built in Asia and Austria cost as little as $30 to build, which is cool, but it doesn't do much to help the U.S. snowboard community.

Who is your target market? 
You, your family, and everybody you've ever met; old shreds to intermediates. We don't make any beginner product per se, we leave that to some of the other brands who have the ability to do it well. But we also feel like we have something to offer everybody out there.

Any types of people you DON'T want representing your brand?
YES. Debbie downers and infernally sour folks. If you can suck the fun out of a wet dream, HS isn’t for you! This is for fun. This is our Zen. And we want everybody to make it - together.

"If you can suck the fun out of a wet dream, HS isn’t for you!"

Where do see the company in 10 years?
Not too different from today. Run by us and focused on what’s important.

Have you ever turned down a retail shop that wanted to carry your goods? Who and why?
I'd rather not list them, but yes. It was because it didn't make sense for us or them. There were some we did open and wish we wouldn't have. We care about and appreciate our partners and mark up our mistakes as lessons learned. Each account is a personal relationship with the sales folks and the buyers and not all friendships are meant to be.

What local shops carry your products?
We have two retail locations in Aspen/ Snowmass, but we are most stoked to have been picked up by Colorado Ski and Golf/Boulder Ski Deals on the Front Range as our exclusive CO retail partner. For demo, Epic Mtn(WP), Base Mtn(SMT,BRK,VL,BC,) Butte & Co(CB), Incline Sports(ASE/SMV), and Copper Mtn are all official Proving Grounds locations, where folks can demo out HS gear and talk to informed shop folks about HS gear and what sets it apart from the other gear on the wall. We are truly lucky to have the best partners in the state participating.

High Societ Demo Days at Loveland

High Societ Demo Days at Loveland

Anything else you want people to know about?
I guess the bottom line is that we love snowboarding and everything about it. Our goal with HS is to ride as much as possible, enjoy being a part of a community that we are passionate about, and live this life to the fullest for as long as possible. We didn't go to college for this. We weren't old pros who fell back on this. We were shop kids working for a pass and discounts on gear when the idea struck us. And at the time, we were just young enough and bold enough to try, and that was almost 12 years ago.