IN THE KNOW with J.S. Weir of Dangerous Sales
J.S. has been working in retail/wholesale board-sports and fashion for 25 years. Starting on the sales floor of skate/snow/surf shops in Ontario and Nova Scotia, his passion for the three board-sports brought him to BC in 2006. Shortly after arriving he began working in the wholesale/distribution side of the business as a brand manager for various skate/action sports brands, eventually becoming the National Sales Manager for Sanuk Footwear and ultimately led to him starting his own agency in 2015. His agency Way Dangerous Sales represents Adelio Wetsuits, Banks Journal, Lost Surfboards, Psycho Tuna, Speaqua Sound Co, and Wonderland Sunglasses.
We sat down with J.S. to find out more about his growing involvement with Adelio Wetsuits, selling during the pandemic and got his perspective on potential changes to the booking timeline as we know it!
Hey JS, how are things, it’s been a while!?
Things are really good brother, very thankful that I can say that considering the state of things. How are things in your world?
I can’t complain, How is life on the island these days?
Island life is good! Busy being a dad, husband, getting some surf here and there, and working all the different aspects of my business. Maybe doing the occasional burnout, haha
Last we spoke you mentioned you became more involved with Adelio Wetsuits, can you tell us a bit more about that and what your involvement is?
For sure, I started working with Adelio in early 2018 as we re-introduced it to the Canadian market. Initially I was repping the brand but pretty much from the get-go the founders of the brand; Brett Vergou and Chris Turner, could see that there was a natural affinity between all of us. Over time that business relationship changed and I was invited to become a partner in the overall brand; taking ownership of the Canadian Market.
That’s awesome! Looking back at the business during these pandemic months, what has been the biggest challenge for you the rep but also Adelio the brand?
Answering for Way Dangerous as an agency, overall things went really well during the pandemic, but that really came down to the decisiveness/proactivity of a few of my stronger brands. A client of my wife’s has an adage that we’ve adopted into our lives - “solve problems with optimism”. That philosophy really affected how each brand and its decision makers made it through the last 18 months from my perspective. So my challenges were centered around how well the brands were able to react and how I could work to help the retailers based on that. Coupled with the unprecedented consumer demand we saw, especially in tourism heavy towns, the strong brands biggest problems became running out of inventory to sell.
Adelio as a brand has certainly faced challenges, but overwhelmingly we’ve come through this period of time far better off than when it started. Everyone in the surf space experienced production delays, and now shipping has become a big challenge. I think some brands in the wetsuit space were so focused on stopping the bleeding in their apparel business that they lost focus on their wetsuit business, which had a big effect on what they could bring to the market. Our sole focus is all things surfing, and that helped us make the best of the opportunities.
With so many brands/categories in your agency, how has it been pivoting to a virtual setting for showing the line? What works best in your mind?
Well when this all started, I was already in the habit of filming all my brands seasonal offerings, as there were always retailers that couldn’t make it to the shows or they were rushed coming through the showroom and wanted to see it again later in more depth.The feedback was positive on them so I just kept doing them. So when everything skipped a beat in March 2020 I was kind of like “alrighty then, I guess I'll add in some virtual appointments” which was pretty seamless.
That being said, the feel of a garment in-hand goes a long way so there is definitely a component missing when it comes to new fabrications/styles in a line. If a buyer is familiar with a brand and the brand is great at sourcing and being consistent with their offering, then it's easier, but when you make big changes or introduce something new, that can get lost in a digital showing or recording.
What do you see as far as any lasting changes for brands due to the pandemic? Has production timing and cost of delivering goods changed the overall business long term?
The cost of shipping goods over the Pacific is likely to remain much higher than it was in the past, and although there may be some sort of correction to that, it will not go back to what it was 14 months ago. That is going to have a profound effect on pricing, and the landscape of product categories.
Production timing and projecting product needs has changed massively as well. Its going to force some brands to shrink their sku counts, and commit way sooner to guarantee their product gets made. If brands aren’t moving up their deadlines and asking for retailer guidance way further out, it's going to be a hard road for them I'm afraid.
Speaking of hard roads, has there been any positives to come out of the last year or so? If so, what are they?
I believe that all the disarray the pandemic and global shipping has created is going to encourage strong brands to keep evolving and improve their business models. Brands are looking at alternative sourcing now, closer to home which is very positive in my books. That trend is going to become very important for our industry and many others.
As far as positives for Adelio...our Canadian footprint has grown massively and we have distribution in seven countries including a recent addition of European distribution out of Germany. We’ve been growing the product-line as well, we released Chippa’s collections which have been collabs with Sketchy Tank and with Nathan Kostechko and both did really well, especially the dipped booties and 4/3 Hooded Suits. The latest was our relaunch of the women’s category and it went really well, especially the 5/4s and 4/3 hooded suits, i’m excited to see the women’s business continue to grow.
That part of the process is really enjoyable when you are obsessed over little details. I’m a gearhead, and have always been fiddling with anything and everything performance related. Brett and I nerd out all the time on ideas for changes here and there, chasing improvement on the suits, and accessories. Little adjustments can totally change the way a suit fits, but may affect warmth or flushing, or flexibility. So trying to nail that is a fun process and very rewarding. As a surfer, having a product that you are a part of, that you believe in and others can enjoy, that's about as positive an outcome as you can ask for.
What are you most looking forward to about a return to in-person buying and tradeshow season?
Catching up with everyone and working with a new brand I’m doing called Psycho Tuna! Getting to do more shop visits in general will be good as well. Also, the inevitable surf chats while paying for overpriced Caesars at the convention center haha.
Great chatting JS, we’re looking forward to seeing you again and having you back at KNOWSHOW in January!
VISIT J.S. AT KNOWSHOW AT THE PSYCHO TUNA BOOTH #205 JANUARY 12-13, 2022