A Hobo Hump Day with Colin WaltersBy admin • Sep 11th, 2013 • Category: Features, Hump Day Interviews, Latest
If you walk around the outskirts of any snowboard tradeshow, you can find the booths of a few companies that aren’t going to make it. I don’t mean that they might not gain enough traction to be profitable, I mean that they are certain to fail. Yet, behind each of these booths there is a deluded person who is entirely confident in that brand. Colin Walters has never invested money in booth space at a tradeshow, and he isn’t after unattainable big numbers based on a gimmick. He’s just an honest, creative guy who loves to snowboard, work with his hands, and is down for the cause. I don’t even know exactly what “down for the cause” means, but I can tell you it applies to Colin. Think of him and Hobo as the opposite of that guy trying to push light-up snowboards, on uninterested buyers, in the dark corner of a busy convention center. — Taylor Boyd
What did you do today?
I woke up at 6 AM and got to go golfing with my dad for the first time in five years. After, I had a little business meeting with him and some other business owners. I learned some cool stuff about… business, I guess. It was really interesting. All these different business owners come together every two weeks; my dad organizes it. They meet up early in the morning, play a round of 9 holes, then everybody sits down and they talk about different issues with their businesses for two hours. Then two weeks later, they come back and talk about how they resolved them and talk about more issues. It’s pretty cool.
And now Hobo’s part of that?
They don’t know anything about Hobo. I mostly just sat in and listened. They knew I was some sort of business owner. They didn’t want to hear anything I had to say though. I tried to talk a little bit and you could kind of see these guys shut down when I tried to speak up. They’re all a lot older. It was a cool experience regardless. I’m just all about learning.
That’s a good thing to be about.
Yeah, so I did that until noon, then I drove back to Denver and met up with the guy who’s making our wooden patches. I picked those up, then went home and met Thomas (Minor) at my house. He’s been designing our new order form for this Fall, and we just finished snapping the photos and putting that stuff together, then I had to go to Starbucks and send some emails because there’s no WiFi at my house, then I ended up at your house drinking beer.
What kind of crack shack are you living in that doesn’t have WiFi?
I live in a fucking dungeon room! It doesn’t retain heat so I can’t really live there in the winter, but I might have to. The house is old as fuck. It has lead in the pipes, so you can’t even drink the water. The shower has nothing to hold the showerhead in place. You have to do that with one hand. But I’m stoked to be living with Riley (Doyle) and Tayler (Doyle). Both of them are just killing it. Riley just won this studio art space with his art collective, Totally Totally. And Tayler runs his own band Zee Kinky Fingers. He plays with a few different musicians and his main drummer, Hogan, is is amazing. It’s awesome living with them.
What are Riley and Tayler’s roles with Hobo?
Riley is the art director, he’s actually Dylan (Alito) and I’s partner. We all grew up together; we’ve known each other since kindergarten. The idea for Hobo came about during the summer of 2004, when I was going into my sophomore year of high school. Tayler is the one who made it happen. He got Jakob (Burleson) and I to throw him some cash to make some of the first hats and shirts. We just ran it as a fun thing in high school. When we graduated, Tayler wanted to do stuff with music, and was pretty much done with snowboarding. Me and Jakob moved up to Breckenridge for the 2007/2008 season, kind of kept doing it slowly, whatever, we just wanted to snowboard. That was the year we lived with Kyle (Hay), Dylan, Cheese, everybody.
Yeah, I remember that year. That was my first year up there as well.
Yeah, what a year. So Jakob basically opted out of the company at the end of the season. He just wasn’t into it, didn’t really want to be in the mountains anymore. At that point, I was the only one who wanted to do something with it. So, I thought, “Why not do something?” After the season, I was sitting in that house alone, and I was stuck there because I bought a car from some dude from Pakistan, but he moved back without signing the fucking car over correctly. I couldn’t drive my car because I couldn’t get license plates. So, I just sat in that house all summer sewing and making shit. Hobo was making face masks at the time and I figured it was the only thing I could do to stay productive. After that summer, I was like, “Alright, I’ll do this.” That’s when I registered it as a business under my name. Later I acquired Dylan, and now Riley.
How did Dylan get involved?
The next year I met all those kids from Minnesota like Blake (Reid) and Hoagie and all the homies, started filming a ton, we put Froni (Justin Fronius) on, all these people we were meeting. And it was starting to get bigger; people were hearing about it and seeing the videos or something like that. Anyway, we went out to Vegas for Dylan’s 21st birthday. On the drive back home, it was just me and Dylan, and we were talking about it. He’s been involved since day one, but I told him if we were going to try to go somewhere with this, we were going to need some money, and he was down to support it, so at that point he bought 25% from me for a couple G’s.
What happened with Froni?
Froni moved to Elm this summer. I’m pretty sour about it. If he got an offer from Elm that I can’t compete with, I completely understand, but I just wish he would have said something to me about it.
What are you going to do if Hobo really takes off? You don’t have the manufacturing capabilities for that.
I’m not trying to jump into a giant manufacturing process, or a big company process. I’m happy with the way it’s going right now. I know how all the hats come out, and we have so much personal touch on all of them, that I’m ok with it slowly growing and me learning about business before it gets out of hand.
You’ve been doing it for a while now.
Yeah, I have. I’ve never tried to be like, “This is the year I’m throwing ten grand at it. It has to happen, I want it to be my main income.” My summers I spend all on Hobo. Then normally what happens around this time of year, is we do our Fall line and I’m all out of money, and I’m like well, “I’ve got to go get another job so I’ve got a different income,” and I’ll probably have to do that again this year, but we’re getting better each year for sure. We’re getting more money and having it turn into a real business. As long as it’s self-sustaining, to where it can pay me and a couple employees, I’m happy. I’m not trying to make Hobo a giant company.
What do you do for other income?
Last year, I worked for Team Summit and did snowboard coaching or whatever. One of the kids that I met, named Max, he was a really cool kid to snowboard with. He wasn’t so into the competition side of snowboarding, which is what all the other kids were doing. He just wanted to learn to be a better snowboarder and have fun with it. And his parents were down for that, they wanted him to do whatever he wanted and that was basically have me as a coach, so this year I’m just going to board with him, one on one, and that’ll be my extra income.
So you’re going to get paid to coach a kid that doesn’t want to ride contests? That’s everyone’s dream job.
I know, I’m so stoked on this. I jumped on it. This kid wants to know about real snowboarding. I’m stoked to have that as my job. I don’t even like to refer to it as coaching, I just like to say I’m boarding with him.
So are you going push him toward filming?
No, I’m not going to push him in any direction.
There’s really only two routes to making money snowboarding- video exposure or contests, and his parents are paying you, so beyond just riding with him, are you going to take him into the streets or at least introduce him to the concept of filming?
Yeah, I want him to basically pick what he wants to do. At this point we’re just going to snowboard and I’m going to teach him the way I learned, just understanding that it’s about fun and creativity and pushing yourself, and that’s what snowboarding is. If he wants to take it towards filming and have fun with that, I’ll support him and do what I can to help him get there.
Is he on Hobo?
Are you going to try to cash in on Red Gerard? Try to get him to dump some money in?
[Laughs] No, Red’s the man, but we don’t want his money. We just want his boarding. Red’s going to be crazy to watch in the next couple years, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s got older brothers to keep him in check. I love snowboarding with Red. The kid had no sponsors when we met him and just wanted to do what his brothers did, and I started giving him some of our face masks and hats. He was super super stoked. I put together a couple videos for him, and like, so fast he was on Burton. I’m definitely happy for him and he deserves it. Red’s sick. I’m glad I met him before everything and have just kind of watched him grow up. It’s definitely sweet.
Are you making hats for dogs?
Yeah! We want to get into the dog market real bad. I love dogs and we so happen to make an awesome dog hat. And pretty soon we’re going to have dog collars and awesome dog shit.
Red the Dog just dropped an edit, is he on the team?
Fuck yeah. Keniston’s dog is definitely on. We’ll have Red the Dog, Mia, Dylan’s pup, Jace, Zach Rawles’ pup, then my parent’s dog Cheerio, all on the team. I’m all about having different teams like that. We’ve got a fly fishing team starting right now. Thomas has this homie that fly fishes professionally and he’s a super nice guy and we make hats that are good for fishing too, so we’re trying to spread the love.
Fly fishing- so hot right now.
I don’t give a shit. I just like hats.
Would you ever put a skier on the team?
No sir. I’ve been asked a few times about that. I’m not ready to jump into the ski arena at all.
Times are tough, Coal did it.
Yeah, they’re a bunch of pussies. Coal’s a cool company, but I think it sucks they’re marketing to skiers. Holden’s doing it too. I read an article that said they’re opening their doors to the skier market. I probably respect Mikey LeBlanc more than any other snowboarder though. Holden did it right. They’re unique and they did stuff outside the box. I think that’s cool.
Alright, go ahead and thank some people and tell us where you can get Hobo stuff.
Ok, I’ve got so many, I brought a list. Billy Mackey, Jaeger Bailey, Jordan Small, Z Curl, Chunk, Aidan Flanagan, Austin Julik Heine, Boody, Chedda, Squiggs, Red Gerard, Kyle Hay, Chris Sypert, Michael Wick, Earl Snyder, Daryl Radovich, Joa Feild, Chris Chaves, and Drew Roddin. And an extra thanks to Johnny Lazz, Riley Nickerson, Josh Bishop, Derrek Lever, Mary Rand, Stevie Meskill, Beau Sanders, Dom, Dan Poole, John Graham, Brandon Hobush, Blake Reid, and Blake Geis for slangin’ hats at the camp staff sales over the years, Dylan Dragotta for getting this video promo together all summer, and Jon Stark for editing it, also Vici Hawk, Thomas Minor, Will Newman, Jake Durham, Jason George and Vince Sanders. Of course, my partners Riley Doyle and Dylan Alito. And you. Thanks, Taylor.
You can get our hats at HoboHeadwear.com or at the following select locations:
WA: Stevens Pass Snowboard Shop
OR: Mt. Hood 26, Windells
CO: Emage, Satellite, BC Surf and Sport, Big Hit, Pop Up, Woodward @ Copper
KS: Ride Four Ever
MN: Calsurf, Damage, Faction
GA: Cuckoo’s Nest
NH: Eastern Boarder, Lahouts
CT: Rampage, Utopia
NY: Bunger, Reciprocal, 2nd Nature