The Return of Sessions
Last week, legendary snowboard brand Sessions announced that they were fully relaunched and ready to go for the 2016/2017 season. The company has not been active in the U.S. for the past two years, and will premiere their new line for North America at the upcoming SIA Snow Show in Denver next month.
The company will be led by founder Joel Gomez and Robert Myers, president of Pretty Great LLC. A little over a year ago, Pretty Great LLC purchased Sessions and has since been working to relaunch the brand in America. The company also announced its team of riders this past week, which will include Ryan Paul, Jesse Paul, Scotty Vine, Nick Geisen and Ryland West.
Like many other brands in the industry, Sessions faced tough times towards the end of the previous decade. The financial crisis of 2007-08 and poor snow conditions on the west coast hit the brand hard, and the bank ended up discontinuing their credit around this time. In order to put out their next year’s line, Sessions required more funding and the company signed a financial deal with Samsung. After about two years of the Samsung partnership, Sessions still wasn’t performing at the level they desired and Gomez knew it was time to make some changes. He then talked to Pretty Great LLC and their main funding partner about a potential sale, and the two parties worked out a deal.
“We ended up getting out of the (Samsung) deal, and it strained the company. I mean it’s the same story with any other company. We took all these hits, and on top of that, with the snow conditions going downhill, someone came and asked if we would consider selling and we got a fair offer and we took it,” said Gomez.
Sessions plans on staying close to their roots, and will focus most of their energy on the Tahoe area. From there, the company hopes to expand to Colorado and other states in the future, but for now the emphasis will stay on California.
“You can’t spread yourself too thin. I’d rather go to one area and have a strong presence, plant the seed and then have it root from there. Tahoe is where we ride,” Gomez said. “When I started the brand it was all about passion. I love the snow, and skate and music. That’s sort of my background. And everything changed when all these big companies went public, and sales had to keep growing. When we relaunched Sessions, our goal at the start was just to work with specialty shops and maybe one online dealer. We just need to get back with the right mindset,” he added.
Sessions will officially premiere their new line for the 2016/2017 at the SIA Snow Show in January. According to Gomez, the line will have a “historic feel” to it, and will also feature some more “fashion forward” designs from Myers as well.
“Snowboarding seems to be missing something. Maybe it is because I have been around for a while and recall the energy and angst from the DIY days of the 90’s. I feel like Sessions has an opportunity to inject some soul and passion to snowboarding. There is so much history behind the brand that I am sure most people don’t even know how many key athletes and industry firsts Sessions has provided,” said Myers.
Pretty Great LLC also manages three other companies in addition to Sessions, including Bonfire and Nikita. Balancing all these companies at once hasn’t been easy for Myers and the rest of the staff, but they have taken each challenge in stride.
“One challenge has been rebuilding a brand with a small team and a tight budget. We want to be responsible and realistic about growth and make sure we relay the proper foundation for Sessions. We address this with hard work, creativity and drawing from our past experiences,” said Myers.
“The next challenge is to do our best in healing some of the retail wounds from the past. Almost every end consumer I talk to about Sessions has an overwhelmingly positive feeling about the brand and that is very reassuring,” he added.
When it comes to the future, both Myers and Gomez are excited.
“So far, the work has been really inspiring,” said Myers. “As a group we respect each other’s experience and creativity in a way that makes the process really enjoyable. It is tough work but also rewarding to see what we are achieving.”
Although Sessions will not release a line in the States this season, the company has still stayed busy in other global markets. They have remained active in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and hope to find even more success domestically in the following year. Right now, fans can get a taste of the new line on the relaunched Sessions website, and the full line will be premiered at the end of next month.
In addition to relaunching Sessions, Gomez has also started his own merchandising company titled “45RPM.” The company makes merchandise for various musicians, and is currently working with renowned acts such as Metallica, Foo Fighters and Band of Horses.
For more information on Sessions, visit http://sessionsmfg.com. For more info on Pretty Great LLC, please visit their LinkedIn page at https://www.linkedin.com/company/pretty-great-company. All photos courtesy of Sessions MFG.
by Ben Pinette