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More than one great business idea has been spurred by the experience of riding deep, untracked powder, and Volcom—the action sports lifestyle giant—is among them. In the winter of 1991, Richard “Wooly” Woolcott and Tucker “T-Dawg” Hall traveled from southern California to Tahoe for an annual snowboarding trip. Epic storms brought fresh snow each day, leading them to extend their stay. Between runs through deep powder, they hatched the idea of starting a clothing company. Later that spring, with an initial investment of $5,000 from Richard’s father, they invented the Volcom name and the now iconic Volcom Stone logo. The Volcom brand was born.
The Volcom idea was distilled into the slogan “Youth Against Establishment,” a motto that still guides the company today. For the first time, the cultures of snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing were brought together under one brand, making Volcom the original “board sports” company. Richard and Tucker were, in their words, dedicated to the “creative spirit of youth” and “breaking down established traditions,” and their behavior during the first few years of business clearly reflected those sentiments. They traveled the world, skating, surfing, and snowboarding with friends. All sales were run out of Tucker’s bedroom in Huntington Beach, and in the first year sales totalled a paltry $2,600. Despite the duo’s unconventional approach, the Volcom Stone and the ideas it stood for began to spread.
Volcom’s growth and success can be largely attributed to the brand’s famously “consistently inconsistent” marketing approach. By working with innovative athletes, artists, and musicians, Volcom was able to speak to the creative culture of youth despite the rapidly shifting landscape of the action sports industry. The company’s products, too—including shorts, pants, shirts and jackets—combined fashion and athletic performance in a new way. The commitment to creativity and collaboration allowed the company to grow while still remaining true to its core values. The first Volcom retail outlet opened in Los Angeles in 2002; in 2005, following a few years of rapid expansion, Volcom became a publicly traded company valued at nearly $90 million dollars.
Today the Volcom line of products includes boardshorts, streetwear, denim, outerwear, swimwear, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and kids. In addition to creating products that combine artistic fashion with performance for board sports, Volcom sponsors major surf and skate contests, has a hand in producing dozens of action sports films, and even has an in-house record label. Throughout its two decades of growth, Volcom has found a way to go huge while remaining relevant with a core audience—a feat that very few brands can claim. The image of the Volcom Stone can be seen in tattoos, street art, car bumpers, and on the bedroom walls of youth across the globe. In the world of action sports and rebellious youth culture, change has proven to be the only constant. Fortunately for Volcom, that reality has been central to its vision from the beginning.