What are performance jeans? Are they just really soft jeans or is there more to it? Can you really rock climb, hike, practice yoga, and go on a date with performance jeans like Boulder Denim? On this episode, you’ll hear from Boulder Denim’s founders Bradley Spence and Taz Barrett. In our conversation, the guys explain how their second launch is different from their first campaign, what they’ve learned along the way, why they decided to take their product on the road, their plans for the future, and much more! Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn from the innovative minds behind Boulder Denim!

Utilizing Kickstarter Live.

Have you used Kickstarter Live? Have you seen any compelling uses of it in the crowdfunding community? If you are unfamiliar with Kickstarter Live, it’s a tool for streaming livevideo from your Kickstarter project page. When Brad and Taz launched the second version of their performance jeans, Boulder Denim 2.0, they went all out and hosted the launch at a retail store with free beer while streaming the event on Kickstarter Live. What can you learn from Brad and Taz’s approach? Hear more about their story on this fascinating episode!

Why it’s important to listen to your backers.

Did you know that some of the best ideas for crowdfunded products come from taking the time to listen to your backers? It’s true! Time and time again, great inventors and entrepreneurs have improved their products by embracing the input of their users! For Brad and Taz, this practice of leaning into the feedback of their backers led to expanding and improving their performance jeans for a wider audience. After launching another Kickstarter Live session and taking the time to hear from their backers,  the guys decided that the time was right to introduce their women’s jogger. Don’t underestimate the value of listening to your community! Learn more from Brad and Taz’s perspective by listening to this informative episode!

What are performance jeans?

While traditional jeans are certainly casual and durable, the last thing people think of jeans for is working out or performing any activity that requires flexibility and movement. Here to challenge that thinking, Brad and Taz have developed the performance jean, Boulder Denim. Ethically sourced in their home country of Canada, Brad and Taz have worked hard to bring a product that is useful, comfortable, fashionable, and fun! Not only is their product casual and effective, their approach is too! Taking a look around their website and listening to their story, you really get the sense that the guys care about bringing high-quality performance jeans to the marketplace. Hear more about this innovative product by listening to this episode, you don’t want to miss it!

Taking a product to the masses.

It seems that more and more crowdfunded products are getting the rock band treatment and hitting the road for tours around the country. Is that really an effective way to bring attention and publicity to your product or is it a waste of time and resources? While they were in the middle of their first Kickstarter campaign, Brad and Taz joked about how much they’d need to raise to justify a tour of the US promoting Boulder Denim. What started as a pipedream, Brad and Taz were soon able to turn into a reality! With the help of their supplier turned partner, they secured enough funding to take Boulder Denim on a 14-month tour of the US demonstrating the appeal of their product along the way. Want to take your product on the road? Get more details about their journey by listening to this engaging episode!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:05] Brad and Taz join the podcast to talk about their product, Boulder Denim.
  • [3:45] The difference between the first Kickstarter campaign and the second run.
  • [7:00] Launching at a retailer and utilizing Kickstarter Live.
  • [8:30] How have the guys cultivated a robust connection with their community?
  • [9:20] Lessons learned from a successful crowdfunding campaign & touring the country.
  • [11:45] Where are the guys headed next?
  • [12:30] Brad enters the Launch Round, rapid-fire questions.
  • [14:00] Why you should check out Boulder Denim.


Connect With Boulder Denim


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Connect With the Art Of The Kickstart team

View this episode’s transcript

Roy Morejon:                   Welcome to the Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Inventors Partners, the top full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 million for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

Roy Morejon:                   Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use just survey backers, organized data, and manage orders for fulfillment, by automating your operations in helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyers guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now, let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:                   Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am honored to be joined by Bradley and [Taz 00:01:10] with the Boulder Denim Company. Guys, thank you so much for being here today.

Bradley:                             Thanks for having us, Roy.

Taz:                                     Yeah, thanks for having us here.

Roy Morejon:                   All right. So, Boulder Denim 2.0, the performance jeans revolutionized. You guys are Kickstarter creators. This is your second Kickstarter campaign. You guys launched version one of the product back in end of 2015, and had 600 plus backers, raised over 90,000 for it. And now you guys have come back to Kickstarter again to launch version two. Let’s talk about where this all started. What inspired you to create Boulder Denim?

Bradley:                             It started when Taz and I both started climbing. I actually started climbing about four months before Taz did. And finally, he came to visit me in Toronto when he was living in Arizona and we climb for the first time together. He was wearing these raggedy gym shorts and I was wearing these raggedy yoga pants that I would tear through on a monthly basis. And we were kind of laughing with each other we’re wearing. And we were like, “Why aren’t there any stylish climbing pants out there that look like regular pants?” And when we couldn’t find anything out there, we decided to start from scratch, starting with the fabric and making it ourselves.

Bradley:                             So, it started off as a selfish product and make the product for ourselves and we needed $15,000 to get the minimum order and to make the jeans for ourselves and our family and friends. It kind of blew up from there. So, we didn’t really expect it to do as well as it did.

Roy Morejon:                   So, hence the name Boulder, right?

Bradley:                             That’s right. But not to be mistaken from Boulder, Colorado, which everyone thinks.

Roy Morejon:                   Yeah. See, that was my inclination as well when we met at the outdoor retail shows that you guys were from Boulder. But then I was corrected that you guys are Canadian, ey?

Bradley:                             That true. From Vancouver BC. I like to think we don’t have as a strong accent as our friends out in East. Yeah, we are definitely Canadian.

Roy Morejon:                   And you guys are a couple awesome nice guys as well. So, you carry that with you as well.

Taz:                                    Thanks, Roy. That very sweet of you.

Roy Morejon:                   That’s the aim of the show. So, you guys have version two active right now, we’ve got less than two weeks left to go. But we’ve doubled the amount of backers on the campaign, more than doubled the amount of funding on this campaign. So, obviously, it’s been a success. Let’s talk about what you’ve done differently leading up and running version two than you have of version one. What are some of the things on the marketing side that have put you in such a great position from version one to version two? What are some of the things that you guys learnt?

Bradley:                             One of the biggest things is we have a following now. Before, we had no following. So, we kind of got our current customers super excited about the new 2.0 and the new washes, and they’ve been waiting for it for a while. And I think it’s probably one of the biggest we’ve done. But we held a lot of collaboration contests as well to build up a big email list and just got people excited about the genes in the months leading up to it with not really giving much away, but just doing little sneaky mysterious shots and whatnot. That really helps.

Taz:                                     Yeah. And we also did a survey too with all our previous backers and customers kind of giving a little hints that we’re going to be launching 2.0 and what they wanted to see in it. That definitely generated a lot of interest and excitement and questions.

Bradley:                             Yeah. Essentially, we gave people what they wanted. Whatever people said in the survey and we took with the most popular request and we put that, and the color request, we put that all into our Kickstarter campaign. So, it’s stuff that the people asked for. And then obviously working … Our first campaign, we didn’t do any digital marketing. And this time working with you guys, it really helped us as well. And we actually hired a PR team as well. They’ve got some big publications and Bicycling magazine and GearJunkie and all that. So, it’s helped on both ends having a digital marketing company to work with, and then having a PR company to work with.

Roy Morejon:                   Nice. Let’s talk about version one then, what did you do to lead up to that campaign to make it you a success? Or, what were some of the things that you did there when you had absolutely no following? What were some of the growth hack things that you did potentially to get it to that point?

Bradley:                             A lot of it was done through Instagram where he would follow anyone that targeted hashtag climbing or outdoors adventure, we would follow them and like their photos and hope they would follow us back, even though we had no photos posted. But we actually got a decent following that way. And then we also held a rewards program where we actually gave people free hat, Caribbean or T-shirt, or either pair of jeans if they signed up to be notified when our Kickstarter went live. So, for every person that signed up under their link, they would earn a new reward. That really helped us. We collected about 700 emails, and they were pretty warm emails, because there were people that were waiting to be notified when it launched for the early bird deals. We did a very similar campaign this time around as well.

Roy Morejon:                   Nice. Let’s talk about your campaign video. You drastically improve the overall quality from version one to two. What are the things that you guys learned there, and you know what was the overall process of getting that setup and deciding what to and not to include in the video the second time around?

Bradley:                             Yeah, actually I really like our first video. It’s very artistic and our videographer did a great job. This time we went more like a feature-based video, where every few seconds, there was a new feature being told. It was less artsy in a way. But looking back, I don’t know. I’m juggling weather I like our new video or our old video better.

Roy Morejon:                   Well, you like the increased revenue, don’t you?

Taz:                                    Yeah, we like revenue. So, that’s fair.

Roy Morejon:                  You guys hit your campaign goal on day one. One outside of the basic stuff of your following was built and everybody had some input there. Was there anything else that you think was responsible for that great success on day one?

Bradley:                            Part of it was we launched at Outdoor Retailer which was kind of a unique thing to do, and we had a big launch party the first night at Outdoor Retailer, gave away free beer, and we did a Kickstarter live video, which they didn’t do Kickstarter live videos back when we first launched. So, that was kind of cool to be able to interact with people while they were backing your project. And then we hit our goal within like 18 minutes or something like that. So, that was really exciting for us.

Roy Morejon:                  Did you guys do any prep for Kickstarter live? What should other creators know before they do their own Kickstarter live?

Bradley:                            Yeah, the first time we didn’t. We barely knew what it was, and then we continued to do Kickstarter lives throughout the campaigns and it’s helped a lot. You want to make sure you let your backers and know that you’re going to going to be live and schedule Kickstarter live so people actually know it’s going to happen. So, that’s the biggest.

Taz:                                    And test the technology too, because our internet connection was too slow the first time and it didn’t work as we expected it to.

Roy Morejon:                   That will happen, right? Test for contingencies. So, let’s talk about your experience with your backers so far. I know you talked about after launching version one, you really engaged them and got them to give you feedback and tell you exactly what they wanted. Now it looks like they’re responsible for obviously continuing to purchase your product on version two because they love version one so much. But also, it seems like you gave them a hand in terms of how to shape this product or the future products that you guys create. Talk about that a little bit.

Bradley:                             Yeah. The community has been huge for us, and we essentially take that is what people want. And if they want it, we realize that other people will want it too. So, we’ve been really engaging with our community. And actually, halfway through our campaign, women were complaining that there was no jogger/chino hybrid and for women. And so, we asked people, do you want the women’s one? And we got tons and tons of emails and messages, and we realized that we should probably release it.

Bradley:                             So, halfway through the campaign to get a Kickstarter live, and then we announced that we are releasing the women’s jogger/chino as well, which we’re really excited about. We didn’t realize that people would want it. But that’s one of the things that’s great about Kickstarter and listening to the community and what they ask for it.

Roy Morejon:                    So, what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process of now launching two campaigns on Kickstarter?

Taz:                                     It’s all about prepromotion. If you’re looking to generate pledges after you’ve already started, it’s way too late. The more legwork you put on the front end of your campaign, the more successful you’re going to be. Your initial success in the first couple days is a huge predictor of how well you’re going to do. Yeah, definitely, the more prep you can do, the better you’re going to do, overall.

Bradley:                             That rewards program that we did is, I recommend it to anyone that’s launching a Kickstarter campaign. It’s a great way to collect emails that are warm, it really helped for both campaigns. And I think that was the biggest reason for our success the first time, because we had no following really and we scaled it 90,000 in sales.

Roy Morejon:                   So, you guys are on a road tour right now. And that I guess happened after version one. Talk to our audience about what that’s all about.

Bradley:                             Yeah. Well, we joked halfway through the campaign how much we need to do in sales on Kickstarter to be able to buy an airstream, turned into a showroom, and tour the country and climb in all these epic places and demo the jeans at all these places. And we were like, “Oh, we probably need like a half million dollars,” and we never hit that goal. And it was like an unrealistic dream for us. But then we pitched it to our manufacturer who actually became our partner now, and they love the idea that they find it the whole tour. So, we’ve been on the road for the past 14 months doing pop up shops, meeting with retail buyers, and kind of hyping up the Kickstarter project as well.

Bradley:                             It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been to every major city now in America, except for in Alaska and Hawaii. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re going to Canada now because we’ve kind of did all of America and we’ve been leaving Canada behind.

Taz:                                     Today’s actually our last day in the US for about a month. So, you caught us on a good one.

Roy Morejon:                   And then we’re kicking you out. What, if anything, would you do differently if you were starting version two all over again?

Bradley:                             Good question.

Taz:                                     Honestly, Roy, I think it’s perfect.

Bradley:                             I would even go in and say having a company like you to work with us from the very, very beginning before we launched probably would help us a bit more as well. That’s something we wanted to do, but I don’t know why we didn’t jump into it right away.

Roy Morejon:                    Well, serendipity is why we met, and now we’ve been able to help you guys out. The campaign seemed great success, so it’s been obviously an honor to work with you both.

Taz:                                     Yeah, likewise.

Bradley:                             It’s been a lot of fun.

Roy Morejon:                    After you remove yourselves from the United States, where are you guys headed next?

Taz:                                     Ontario for the next two weeks, then we’re going to be going through Quebec, all the way towards Halifax and Atlantic Canada. And then we’ll be doubling back to Montreal. There’s a big climbing festival, or a competition at the block shop. And then we actually come back into the States for about a month for two big climbing festivals before we had West again, back to the West Coast for the fall and winter.

Roy Morejon:                    Killer. You guys spend a lot of close quarters together, don’t you?

Taz:                                     We do.

Bradley:                             We do. Luckily, we have different sleeping quarters. Otherwise, that would be horrible.

Roy Morejon:                   I get it. You got to climb out of bed. There you go. All right. Well, we have officially reached the launch round or Bradley, you drew the short straw and you get all the questions. Are you good to go?

Bradley:                             Yeah, let’s do it.

Roy Morejon:                   What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Bradley:                             My family. Since I was a little kid, I was doing lemonade stands on that driveway. So, I’ve been a bit of a serial entrepreneur. Business runs in the family.

Roy Morejon:                   If you could rock climb with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Bradley:                             Any entrepreneur, man. Elon Musk.

Roy Morejon:                   That would look funny. What would be your first question for Elon on the side of the boulder?

Bradley:                             On this side of the boulder. I would probably say, “Are you scared?” Because it seems like he’s a confident person in the tech world. But I want to see him on the wall.

Roy Morejon:                   That would be interesting. So, who did you look up to when you were growing up as a kid?

Bradley:                             My dad and my uncle.

Roy Morejon:                   Since you’ve been to most US cities, what’s your favorite city in America?

Bradley:                             Everyone asked me that, and that’s a really tough one. One of my favorite cities was Asheville, North Carolina.

Roy Morejon:                   Absolutely, Beautiful, beautiful country around there. What business book or life book would you recommend to our audience?

Bradley:                             The Tipping Point.

Roy Morejon:                   Good read. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Bradley:                             Sold Boulder Denim, on to the next venture.

Roy Morejon:                   All right. Last question, Bradley. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Bradley:                             It is the future, and I think more and more businesses will be launched on Kickstarter. And it’s a great thing for anyone to be able to start their business and follow their dreams without needing capital. I think we’re growing into a gig century where everyone just does gigs, and I feel like the whole entrepreneurial world is changing with crowdfunding, and it’s amazing to be part of it.

Roy Morejon:                   Awesome. You guys rocked it out. This is your chance to give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check out Boulder. Denim.

Bradley:                             Boulder Denim is a performance denim originally made for climbing. But we realized that very small percentage of our customers are actually climbers. They’re super stretchy, they’re durable, they repel liquid stains, chalk, red wine, they don’t stain, and they don’t smell. So, you can wear them for months on end. They’re the perfect travel pants, because you can bring one pair of pants with you and that’s all you need. There’s a hidden zipper pocket, and we ethically produced them as well. You can go check us out on Kickstarter right now at boulderdenim.com/kickstarter, we’ll take you there as well.

Roy Morejon:                   Awesome. Well, Bradley and Taz, thanks so much for being on Art of the Kickstart. Audience, Thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign, and everything we talked about today. And of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. If you liked this episode as much as I did, make sure to leave us a review on iTunes. Bradley and Taz, thank you so much for being on Art of the Kickstart.

Bradley:                             Thanks, Roy.

Taz:                                     Thanks, Roy.

Roy Morejon:                    Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter Guide to Crushing It. And of course, if you loved this episode of lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find the show, and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on inventorspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you again next week.