Vorige week hadden we de video al, nu nog wat meer info over het hoe en waarom van de Duotone Grom Search door Craig Cunningham:
Why was it the right time for Duotone to launch the Grom Search?
CRAIG CUNNINGHAM: With the rebranding of the former company into Duotone we had an opportunity to continue down the same path or cut out a new identity. Of course our followers and customers still associate us with everything we did in the past, that’s a good thing and we are proud of that but we also want to create a new vibe around Duotone, something fresh, something organic. Basically at the end of the day we’re going to do things slightly differently and the Grom Search is one of many projects we have in the pipeline. We picked Caiupe, Brazil for a reason to do our first ever Duotone Grom Search and that’s because a lot of talent has come from this area over the years. The province of Ceara and specifically the town of Cumbuco has produced some of the best freestylers to ever pump a kite and is the home of the current world champion. In a place where most of the local's are struggling to eat daily meals or even have a roof over their heads kiteboarding is a way out! For these kids, no longer is becoming a football player the only dream!
What was the vision behind it?
CC: At Duotone we take #TRUEKITEBOARDING to heart and for us it means pushing the sport in every direction and discipline at hard as possible. That being said we also try to support the best athletes in all the facets of kiteboarding and freestyle is no different. We are looking for a world champion but we are also looking to develop the local scene. It seems that a lot of the locals (and kids trying to get on tour) are dropping out of school to focus on kiting and to me that’s crazy! You can only kite so many hours in a day so why not use your free time productively? We wanted to show that at Duotone we’re not only interested in the riding level but also academic potential. We don’t want to sponsor a kid who can do all tricks but cant properly read or write.
For the Grom Search we wanted to go to the beach with an open mind. No list of reasoning on who or why we are selecting the kids. No heats, no competition. Just get out there and do your thing… It could be because of pure talent, power, style, personality, potential or a combination of these characteristics. The winners would not only get supported with Duotone gear (quiver of choice + board of choice + boots + small Click Bar and a harness) but English lessons as well! We will stay in contact with their English tutor and if they complete their monthly schooling and keep progressing their riding they'll get new gear the following year when the team returns. Then they'll have the opportunity to give their old kit (that we gave them this year) to a local shredder of their choice... And the cycle starts! Hopefully this will set the tone with the locals so that they understand that staying in school, speaking other languages and being able to be an ambassador to the brand is just as important as the number of tricks in your bag!
And tell us about the support from the international team?
CC: It was pretty cool to see so much of the team as hyped on the idea as I was! Believe me, everybody wanted to be there but that just wasn’t possible with travel logistics and everybodys schedules. In the end we had a handful of the team come out that day to show support, give advice and just generals spread the true stoke of Duotone! Noe Font is always a massive help behind the scenes and spent the day shooting video. Mika Sol was there to help translate and give advice alongside Paula Novotna, Hannah Whitely, Artem Garschenko, Valentin Rodriguez and few more! Even though a lot of the team was elsewhere, I received a lot of messages from our riders from around the world stating how proud they were to be associated with a brand that supported events like this. It wasn’t just a good thing for us, or the brand but for the local community and the sport as a whole… all around it really was a win, win, win situation!
What was the response from the industry?
CC: I have to say it’s all been super positive! Not one single negative comment surrounding this concept. From my peers and co workers to friends and aquiantances from other brands the response was outstanding. I even had people from other boardsports messaging me saying how sick the concept was with the idea surrounding the schooling combined with the riding! I think we will see more of this in the future and hopefully some of the other brands will launch some as well. Lets grow the pie, not the slice!
Although you’re no grom what was your journey into the duotone team?
CC: Ya I guess I was never really a kite grommet, I was studying Power Engineering when I first discovered the sport and took it up as a hobby. Pretty quickly though kiteboarding took over my life, I was addicted and I met some new friends who were already traveling. Then I started using all my free time to travel and kite. When I finished school I worked a normal job for 6 months until my good friend Sam Medysky convinced me to quit and come to Brazil with him and a few others. From that point on I started doing a lot of odd jobs to continue traveling but didn’t really have any aspirations of going pro, I just wanted to cruise around and live the good life with my best friends. I had however surrounded myself with some of the best riders in North America at the time like Sam, Brandon Scheid and Eric Rienstra. Not long after Liquid Force started flowing me kites and a little travel budget. Fast forward 4 or 5 years and Duotone (North at the time) was searching for a rider from North America. I had a lot of content coming out at the time with the NA Blend crew and I just had a few good results in some park events. I had also just won the Rookie of the Year at the Triple S invitational to put the cherry on top. Long story short Boards & More (the parent company of Duotone and Ion) offered me a contract that I couldn’t refuse and the rest is pretty much history. The Boards & More family threw me a ball and I took it and ran away! 7 years later I’d like to think I’ve had a pretty successful career as a kiteboarder and it’s still going! Plus now I’m super thankful that the marketing team has to be given the opportunity to work behind the scenes and recently this past March I got the position of Team Manager of the twin tip team as well as Creative Director for special marketing projects like this!
What makes a standout grom / what is the brand looking for?
CC: Someone who’s always smiling and spreading good vibes. That’s a must! If you’re one of those to cool for school, unapproachable superstars that just lets the riding do the talking you had better be on a whole different level. What we really want is someone who shreds just as hard off the water as on it! If you can manage to be the best or one of the best athletes at the spot and also be friendly, compassionate and cool it’s going to go a long way. In a nutshell we’re looking for someone who rides at the highest level and epitomizes the values of Duotone.