Based out of the tiny mountain village of Trysil in Østerdalen, Norway, Sweet Protection has been keeping outdoor adventurers’ heads safe for decades now. The company began as an idea in the late 80s with a desire to provide helmets for river kayakers who were previously missing the proper protection for staying safe in their sport. Over the next 30 plus years the company has expanded into providing protective head and body gear as well as performance clothing for sports from skiing to biking. They even make gear and clothes for kids. Here we sat down with Sweet Protection’s Managing Director Bjørn Fjellstad to learn all we could about this company that also prides itself on being eco-friendly.
Q: How did Sweet Protection come to be?
A: Sweet Protection started based on dissatisfaction with the existing kayak and ski gear not holding up standards expected. It started in a garage in the small mountain village of Trysil, where we still have an office. It was founded by a tight-knit group of skiers, riders, cyclists and paddlers back. Since that day we have continued to push innovation and safety standards on our helmets to a new standard.
Q: What sustainability practices does Sweet Protection follow?
A: Our main sustainability practice is to make products that last as long as possible. A product that is well design and built doesn’t need to be replaced every season. Besides that we follow a strict regime within our mother group, Active Brands, in terms of a secure and just work environment for our co-workers at the factories. Animal welfare is important: We only use non-mulesing wool, we have a certificate of origin on all wool and a wool spinning certificate. We also have phased out Antifungal and antibacterial treatment of our gear. Why? Because the chemicals used to do so never decompose when they end up in sea, causing mass deaths of micro-organisms. Instead, we focus on new technology and design that makes the garments more breathable and dry.
Q: What sets Sweet protection apart from competitors?
A: We have a complex method of constructing our products and for us the ultimate helmet exists in the combination of world-class impact protection, low volume and low weight. That being said we never shave off weight that will compromise safety or performance. Our unique method of creating the best and safest products as fast as would only be possible with a streamlined process and the best people. All members in our team are dedicated users of our products.
Q: Where do you see the company in the next 10 years?
A: Our goal is to be the number one brand within ski and snowboard, bike and paddle sport on protection gear in North America, Scandinavia and the Alp region in Europe.
Q: What challenges are ahead?
A: We are launching a new category this coming autumn – eyewear. And we still need to tell the world that we have a great bike collection for mountain, gravel and road biking.
Q: What the growth been like in the US market Year over Year?
A: We are doubling the business.
Q: Where do you see the most global potential?
A: Beyond doubt, the U.S. market has the most potential.