Eastern Collective, based in Burlington, VT, is bringing a bit of flair to the boring, white electronics cables you’re used to. Since quitting his job at an action sports marketing firm in Vermont, founder Matt Benedetto has been churning out colorful iPhone cables, mini USB cords and headphones full-time. In the beginning, however, Benedetto was selling stylish hand-knit beanies to young skiers on the internet.
“Basically the story is, when I was probably 13, my mom taught me how to crochet hats,” explains Benedetto. “That was the time that all of the freeskiers were crocheting beanies and all of that stuff.” Matt knit tons of hats, made a website and began heavily promoting his products via Newschoolers. When EC Headwear—as it was called then—began to take off, Benedetto decided it was time for the next step. “My hands were going to fall off from crocheting so many hats after school,” said Benedetto. “Basically, I did a collection of knitted hats and then launched those.” In his first year of production Benedetto had six different designs and began adding new hat styles and apparel to the lineup. Since he was no longer solely producing hats Benedetto rebranded EC Headwear as Eastern Collective.
Eastern Collective takes off:
After a foray into producing iPhone cases, Benedetto turned to a new idea. “You don’t need to buy an iPhone case but it’s kind of a smart idea,” said Benedetto. “But, literally every person needs to charge their phone. I didn’t think that anyone was really capitalizing on the idea to make, I guess you could say, ‘designer’ iPhone and other smartphone cables.” Thus, the 30 Pin Collective Cable was born. The cables are wrapped in protective, colorful nylon that bring a stylish flair to the dull, white iPhone cables we’re all familiar with.
30 Pin Killa Bee Collective Cable
Since then, word of Eastern Collective has spread, appearing in publications like Wired Magazine, Gizmodo, Lucky Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. “A couple of blogs here and there would pick it up,” said Benedetto. “I could just watch it ripple out across the Internet.” In addition to the 30 Pin Collective Cable, Eastern Collective now boasts mini USB cables (great for uploading shots from your GoPro), headphones and lightning USB cables (iPhone 5 compatibility).
Despite the brand’s success, Benedetto never forgot about Eastern Collective’s skiing roots. While attending St. Michael’s College near Burlington, he became good friends with Evan Williams, and skied with him until a devastating ski crash nearly lost him his leg three years ago. “I didn’t ski for a year and a half and when I came back I had to retire from ever hitting jumps and rails again,” described Benedetto. “I love skiing so I wanted to still be a part of it and have the brand instead of just be a product… be a whole experience.” Since then, Benedetto has put out several ski edits starring the likes of Williams, Tyler Audette and Peter Engen under the name Collective Visuals. Having Williams and the crew from Meathead Films right in his backyard has helped make for some quality edits.
January Thaw – Collective Visuals
Eastern Collective intertwines with the skiing world in more ways than one. Names like LJ Strenio, Ian Compton and even Tom Wallisch have all rocked Eastern Collective apparel in the past. Benedetto’s products have also stocked the shelves of ski shops in both Telluride and Jackson Hole this year. “I think it’s like a generation growing up together,” said Benedetto. “All the kids that were teenagers on Newschoolers, seeing EC grow, now they’re working at shops… wanting to bring the brand into the resorts.” Eastern Collective also did a beanie collaboration with Level 1 from 2009-2011 and are donating hats to the High Fives Foundation this year.
Eastern Collective offers Scout Headphones ($32.95), Lightning Cables ($23.95), 30 Pin Cables ($17.95), Micro USB Cables ($17.95), and Auxiliary Cables ($13.95), all in a variety of unique color schemes. To check out the full collection from Eastern Collective, click here.