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Interview with Jim Zbinden from Yes (We Can)

Quick, name the company creating the biggest buzz at SIA, ISPO, online and in the lift lines? Is it Burton, Ride, the 686 x New Balance collab, Nike buying Quiksilver? No, hands down everyone will agree that it’s YES (we can).

With the death of Burton’s Uninc line of boards/ethos, YES has risen like a phoenix out of the ashes. JP Solberg (JPS), Romain De Marchi (RDM) and David Carrier-Porcheron (DCP) quickly shrugged off the dust, regrouped and agreed to continue the wildly successful spirit of Uninc through a new snowboard company with a twist. YES promises to provide a lineup that will be released over the course of a year-round season of chasing the snow (including “gasp” bindings). Think skateboard decks, Nike dunks or limited art-hippie t-shirts.

With the assistance of Jim Zbinden (JMZ), shop owner, Nidecker graphics designer and global playboy, YES was (un)incorporated. 5ones sat down with Jim Zbinden to learn more about YES and their future plans. He calls them as he sees them so grab a warm shot of tequila and strap yourself in.

Name. Occupation/job. Astrological horoscope sign.

Jim Zbinden, godfather of pulp68 family (shop and crew in Geneva, Switzerland) DJ, artist, graphist, and many more… Taurus

Tell me a little bit about how YES was founded. Why now in this bad economy?

I’m graphic designer for Nidecker. When my friends were fired from Burton, I offered up the idea to do a graphic series without any brand. Just for them to use post-Burton, before they got new sponsors. I did the boards (Yes We Can) and RDM, JPS & DCP really liked it. Bang! The idea for a new company came naturally after that. We stick together, fix the rules and the roots of Yes were born…

What does YES think it can bring to the overcrowded snowboard industry?

Just another vision of business… Of course, we need to sell the boards to survive, but we will try to keep the passion alive, for example the boards will sell at price point, but with crazy technology. (Author’s note: Holy ____) Kids don’t need to pay for “names “, just for the real technology.

You’ve been quoted talking about multiple releases in a season instead of the traditional one production run targeted to the Fall. This sounds more like skateboards, sneakers or fashion. Thoughts?

Yes, we will take care of South America and the summer camps too. Why just sell boards for one season for riding in Europe and the US? We are not alone!

I’m a huge Uninc fan (boards and team). How involved is the team in the design and business?

We are together for all the decisions. I come up with my graphic/design ideas. I then explain them to the team and we decide together what works or doesn’t work. All riders come together as artists and with ideas, but to be honest, I’m really proud to do the first release J.

Is the team going to expand beyond the JPS, DCP and RDM?

Yes, we are looking for a new killer French Team. The team will hook up the new generation and support the kids.

In 20 words or less, describe how the boards ride.

To be honest, at the moment I’ve no time to test the boards. All of the industry is really stoked about a new brand. The boards are made at the Nidecker factory so you know it!

Year one for a board brand can be daunting. How were SIA and ISPO?

Really positive. We know the market situation, but we are so motivated…. It’s a pleasure to be doing something when it’s more than just business.

When YES launched, were there any reactions from the big boys (Burton, K2/Ride, etc.)?

Jake and Donna came to the booth and said “Congratulations!” It’s probably just to be “cool”, but Rome’s manager was wearing our tee in the Rome booth at SIA. Thanks go out as we’re really appreciative to be supported by our “parents”.

Current board/binding plans.

Five sizes from 49 to 61. For the bindings, we have chosen to develop them with partners like Ndk and Flux.

Favorite snowboard memory.

Damian Sanders backflip and Don Szabo in Creature of Habits

Rumor is that YES will be selling boards this year (2009). Any truth in that?

Yes, two collections in limited edition -100 pieces each; hand painted by the team and limited color combinations.

Ok. Word association time. I’ll list a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind.

Swiss / Sweden? :-)
Powder / Gun
Boobs / Essential
Skis / Kiss
Tattoos / Addiction
Reverse Camber / Marketing?
Party / Open bar?
Jeremy Jones / Who?
Boston / Celtics
Obama / Change :-)
Car / AMC Pacer

Thanks so much for the time. Any last words?

Yes. Sorry for my English and thanks for the support!

Y’all come back. We’ll be showcasing more on YES, other brands and more in the world of snowboarding.


Posted by Hoon on Monday, February 9th, 2009 in Snow.

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