Together Evan and Angie of Kindred Custom Snowboards have over 20 years of combined experience in snowboarding. Evan grew up competing and later coaching at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and Angie began snowboarding at the age of 20 after being hired as the Market Research and Events Coordinator at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. The two met through a mutual friend while snowboarding the Vancouver Island resort. Since then, their love for snowboarding and the Comox Valley has grown together. I didn’t mean for this to sound like romantic story, but it’s hard for it not too.
In the fall of 2009, the couple was living in a camper after the snowboard season had come to an end on the Island when Evan expressed interest in building his own snowboard. Angie was fully onboard with the idea and a week later the two ferried across to Vancouver to pick up a press and enough materials to get started. Through their combined skills, they were able to make 10 snowboards in the first winter including two with Angie’s one of a kind marquetry and veneer topsheets. Now, over four years later, Kindred Custom Snowboards has developed into a full-time venue for Evan and Angie to pursue their passions and express their creativity together. Did I mention that they make some of the most beautiful snowboards I’ve ever laid my eyes upon?
I got in contact with Evan and Angie to find out more about this grassroots snowboard company. Scroll down for the full interview!
Was it a big risk venturing into an already oversaturated market?
We don’t dwell on the market saturation issue. As with any new business there are risks. We got into this craft because we love to ride. We are small scale and aren’t really competing with the large conglomerate brands and manufacturers who deal in high volumes and units. We’re after a very small slice of the pie. As the industry has grown we have witnessed a decline in North American manufacturing. We help to fill that void and are offer something a little different. People feel increasingly jaded by the typical consumer routine and are seeking a more interactive buying experience. We serve people who want a beautiful, functional and personalized ride.
Is Kindred a full-time job or do you work on the side as well?
Right now Kindred has our full attention. It’s great to be able to really focus and make our ideas come to fruition. That said we have both held on to specific work we’re passionate about. During winter Evan continues to inspire the new generation of snow-lovers as head coach for the VI Riders snowboard club. I (Angie) facilitate a weekly Girls’ Group that acts as a supportive venue for pre-teen and adolescent girls to share their experiences and learn skills for healthy living.
Is the community surrounding Mount Washington and the Comox Valley supportive of your efforts?
The Comox Valley is an outstanding community. It is home to many creative and talented people from all walks of life. It’s also brimming with people who are ardent supporters of local business and appreciate fine handcrafted items. As our name suggests, our family and friends have kept us balanced along the way. They are the compass and backbone of Kindred. They keep us true to course by reminding us of who we are, what we love and what is really important in life. We are so grateful for their support, guidance and expertise.
How did the Kindred shop come together?
Initially we owned only the essential tools and equipment to get by. People have been genuinely interested in what we’re up to and so generous with whatever resources they could offer. We have a buddy who was a local shop tech and he’d let us use their base-grinder after hours. We used to acquire our core lumber from a dear friend who is a retired logger and avid skier.
The original shop was a sunken laundry room with a low ceiling. Evan had to duck working around the washer and dryer. That first winter our good friend literally bailed us out when the whole room flooded while we were away! He saved all of our equipment and materials from ruin. It was a shabby old shack that was scheduled to be torn down and we relished in the opportunity to practice building cores out of the door trim, which appeared to be super nice old-growth Douglas-fir! It was a stepping-stone.
Our current location sits outside our Comox home. It’s a quirky place dotted with buildings, gardens, bonfire pits and toys. At the top of the property you’ll find the “dirty shop,” which is home to our lumber, core building, base grinding and finishing supplies. The separate “clean shop” is where the artwork is cut, materials are assembled and everything is laid up to press. It is the ideal space as Evan kitted out both shops with custom work stations for each step. Over time we’ve acquired the tools we need to get the job done.
What is the process for ordering a custom board from Kindred?
For custom work people contact us to express interest in a board or skis. We start the conversation with a spec document that profiles them as a person and snowboarder. Using their profile we make recommendations for shape, size, and flex. We have a conversation about the top sheet art as well.
How long does it take to build a board from start to finish?
It takes at least 10 hours of hands-on work to build a board. The timeline will vary depending on the consultation and the artwork. The consultation process is ongoing throughout the build to make sure we really nail it. We follow up with updates and progress photos so the owner is privy to the build process along the way.
What types of snowboards does Kindred offer?
Custom work is our specialty and the options are endless. Our CNC router enables us to create new shapes suited to the requirements of each rider. We also offer various camber profiles including full traditional, nose rocker and early rise nose and tail.
What kind of technology goes into your boards to ensure a high performance ride?
We employ sandwich construction using high quality Tri-axial Glass, Uni-directional Carbon Fibre, ISO Sport Sintered Base, VDS rubber, Hex Inserts and Rockwell 48 steel edges. We marry these tried-and-tested snow sports technologies with individually tailored details. Evan’s experiences as a competitive snowboarder and coach have given him a keen sense of what works for individuals with different needs. The consultation ensures each rider ends up with a board that suits their style and ability and performs to a high standard.
We manufacture our cores in-house from handpicked tight-grained Vancouver Island Cypress and Douglas fir. These trees possess the excellent strength-to-weight ratios we’re looking for. We have a great relationship with a local sawmill and take pride in using native lumber.
We are aware that ski and snowboard manufacturing is not a green process. We consciously use sustainable resources to keep our footprint in check. We use Entropy resin systems, which are a post product of the pulp and paper industry. We’ve happily replaced the dead weight of plastic sidewalls and with vibrant hardwoods. Wood carries within it incredible elasticity and shock absorption properties. We choose dense species like Ash, Maple, Purple Heart and Padauk to ensure durability. It’s amazing how wooden sidewalls liven up the ride.
Tell me about the artwork on a Kindred board.
We fell in love with the lustrous visual depth achieved with the wood veneer top sheets. As artists, we both felt inspired by the seemingly endless potential to create beautiful images that embody the joy of being active outdoors. Marquetry is an old-world process that involves cutting and matching thin wood veneer. We select veneer for specific colour profiles, facets and grain patterns to bring the compositions to life.
The artwork on each custom board is one of a kind. Some people have a specific idea when they come to us, in which case it’s a matter of translating it into marquetry. Others want guidance, so we draw from a conversation about their passions, hobbies and interests. It’s similar to tattoo design, at least from what my inked up little brother tells me… We create design proofs and refine as necessary until we’ve come up with something personal that they love.
Any plans going into the 2014/2015 season?
For this season we are offering a Limited Edition Series of snowboards, split-boards and skis that will include standardized shapes and graphics. These boards hold true to the meticulous process of the custom work while highlighting the strongest shapes we’ve built to date.
Because it’s a slight departure from custom work, we’ve decided on a limited run. With only 70 boards and pairs of skis built, the eventual owners will have a sense of riding something uncommon and special. Each will be numbered and include a certificate of authenticity as our guarantee of the model and year. They will be in stock for direct purchase by midsummer.
Anything else you’d like to get across to our readers?
We resist the spread of mass-produced disposable culture by building boards and skis that hold intrinsic value to their owner. Manufacturing is taxing on the environment, so we build our boards and skis to last. They perform very well over time and once retired become beautiful artwork to hang proudly on the wall or even build a fence or bench out of – hopefully never making it into a landfill.
If you’re interested in a custom snowboard split-board or skis, please don’t be afraid to contact us – we’re approachable and are happy to give no-obligation quotes. If you’re interested in the 2014/2015 Kindred Limited Edition Series you might want to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We’re beginning to post design updates and information about the launch party! Also, we welcome people to lay claims to one ahead of time as we expect them to sell quickly.
Check out the video below to see exactly how a Kindred Custom Snowboard is made.