Catching up with Mike Nick re: Orage ownership, future direction
On August 3, 2013, Coalision announced the sale of Orage to Mike Nick and Eric D’Anjou. Nick, formerly Orage’s VP of Marketing, was also a former Orage athlete, X Games medalist and one of the leaders of the freeskiing movement from the early 2000s to the present. We caught up with him concerning his new position, the future of the company and freeskiing in general.
What exactly does this mean for Orage? Will we see any sort of new direction, or perhaps a step back to old directions, now that you’re in this new role?
We’ve been fine-tuning our direction for the past few seasons and we feel we’ve found our sweet spot. We’re constantly looking at what’s happening around us, looking at our history and thinking about what’s around the corner. We’re stoked to be where we are—you won’t see any new directional shifts but you will see a rejuvenated staff. It’s nice to have Eric in-house again. When I first came to Orage as an athlete in 2000, Eric’s passion for skiing and product design is what got me pumped on Orage. His role has changed over the years but his passion has always remained. Now that he and I are working side by side again you have two guys who share a common vision and stoke for skiing, and a deep desire to be the best we can be. We’re laser focused on where we want to take the brand and we’re confident that we’re on our way.
You’ve been around the game for a long time. What are the trends you’ve seen that you appreciate? Anything you dislike? What would you like to see in the future?
I’ve been in it since it started… since we called it “newschool skiing,” which is now just “skiing.” Our sport is constantly evolving, growing, innovating and that won’t slow down any time soon. Orage has been in the game since 1989 and we’ve seen it all. Trends have come and gone but what remains is progression and fun. Skiers will continue to push the limits and our mission is to be there to support them now and into the future. And most importantly we’re in this thing to have fun. You can’t take it too seriously, we’re just sliding on snow.
Will home base still be Burlington/Montreal?
Orage was born and raised in Quebec, the head office will remain there, and we’re keeping the Burlington office intact. Having both spots is a nice way to keep us grounded in both the US and Canadian markets and allows our team to bounce back and forth to keep the juices flowing.
Will this open any new doors and/or create new opportunities to extend the Orage line?
You’ll start to see some expansion this fall that we’ve had in the works since last season. We’re an apparel brand for skiers, and skiers don’t ski all day, every day—winters can sometimes be less than awesome, but you can always count on it being cold. We’ll never stop pushing the boundaries of technical outerwear but in a few weeks you’ll see some new products launching that give skiers more options to represent both on and off the hill.
How does this change your responsibilities?
Eric and I have a super dedicated team in-house and with our reps on the road. Not to mention the dedication from our retailer partners. The support these people have shown our brand over the years is where our responsibility lies. It’s our job to find ways to improve their business which in turn benefits everyone. We’re an industry, not a bunch of individual brands flying solo.
With the new leadership in place, where do you see Orage in five years?
Five years from now, 2018, I see us chest deep in pow, I see us in the park, I see us on groomers, I see us on the streets and in the resorts. The plan is to run a simpler business model, make things enjoyable and have fun. There’s really no secret to what we’re trying to do. There’s a few things we aim to improve but the main focus is to keep putting out product that redefines what you thought ski wear was supposed to be. We’ll just continue to do the same thing we’ve always done… innovate through style.
Will you start wearing a crown on a daily basis?
I was at Burger King earlier and grabbed a few of those paper crowns… so yes, crowns will be worn daily.
We’re dying to know… Orage Masters 9?!
Just so happens I fired off a few texts messages to a buddy at a certain magazine and another fellow at a certain resort about a certain event today. The last Orage Masters was all time, legendary status—my goal is to throw down a ten-year anniversary which means we need to get through number nine first. So… you’ll have to wait and see.
Are you finally going to bring back Siver Cartel?
Ah, Siver… hmmm, [pause]. First things first, Orage is the priority for now and we need to stay focused. But we did regain ownership of a certain other brand as well.
Thanks for the support, guys, we can’t be happier right now and I want to give a shout out to the entire Orage crew. Eric and I can’t do what we do without the rest of the team working just as hard as we do.
About the author:
Donny O'Neill hails from the mystical, faraway land of New Hartford, CT. When he's not in the mountains searching for Big Foot, he's the Associate Editor here at Freeskier.