Hayco Volkers, founder of Xhike.com and gearxtreme.com, recently
talked with Jeremy Moon. Here's a snippet of the interview:
Looking back on your Icebreaker adventure: what is your
Personally, I'm most proud of building a close-knit team. The
direct result of this was being able to realise my idea and create
a new product group. There were plastics and there was wool. And
then there was merino wool − both technical and natural. This
inspired our name: 'breaking the ice' − it was a metaphor for this
new product group.
What's your opinion on the internet − in relation to
manufacturers, customers and retailers? It seems that traditional
retailers feel threatened by developments like online retail and
The physical shop is generally the start of a relationship
between customer, manufacturer and retailer. The retailer must
learn to embrace the internet as a means to maintain that
relationship. Three factors can undermine the relationship: Social
risk − you bought the wrong product. Financial risk − you paid too
much. And performance risk − you bought the wrong size.
For an online retailer, performance risk is the essential one. A
wrong size has to be returned, and this causes disappointment,
loses time, and (sometimes) creates additional costs. My vision for
the near future is to change your living room into a dressing room.
When a customer orders a size L shirt, the retailer sends three
shirts (sized M, L and XL) and a prepaid return parcel. The
customer then tries the shirts on, chooses the best fit, and
returns the others in the parcel. The risks of unreturned shirts
need to be included in your operational costs.
What, in your opinion, is needed to convince consumers
of the need for sustainability?
Be transparent − provide insight into the operations of your
organisation. True sustainability is realised through the entire
business model of your company and product…
Icebreaker believes that it is essential for our wool to be of
exceptional quality. This does not only apply to the wool, but also
to how the sheep that provide it are treated. Every product that
you buy from us comes with its own unique code, something we call
the Baacode, which is traceable through our website. With it, you
can see the living circumstances on the farm that has supplied us
the wool that's in your product. You can see who the shepherds are,
how many sheep they have and the area on which they graze.
Now that you head a successful business, we're curious
to know how you find the time to pursue your outdoor activities
I don't head our business, I make sure it can be lead. I see
myself as oil in the machine. I don't care how many hours someone
works, I care about the passion, judgment and responsibility they
bring to the table… The same applies to me as to anyone within
Icebreaker. It's always possible to take time out to ski, mountain
bike or be with your family.
Source: Icebreaker blog.