As part of our Adventure Uncovered Conversations series, we’ve been catching up with adventurers, filmmakers, partners and friends to see how they’re getting on in this changing landscape. Most recently Rosie spoke to Ali Namdari, Founder of the outdoor brand Labo Mono.
Based in east London, Labo Mono makes bold, eco-friendly and cleverly versatile clothes designed for the outdoors, but with an urban edge. You may remember them from the Adventure Uncovered Film Festival.
Labo Mono started in 2018, when founder Ali Namdari got caught in a rainstorm while cycling home, looked online for a good rain jacket and realised that most great jackets all looked very boring. Being a designer by trade, he decided to quit everything and start creating the perfect jacket.
Check out their jackets here.
Ali, how is COVID impacting Labo Mono?
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I love this quote, and it’s been very true for us.
We had just launched a new production with our factory and were getting prepared to sell our jackets in shops in the UK when we realised that this would need to be postponed until who knows when due to the factories being closed.
We've had generally slower sales, mainly because we've decided to reduce our advertising budget for the time being, to focus on other fields, like developing new online content and updating our product range.
That, plus the fact that we make outdoor jackets when everyone is supposed to stay home, means that this is definitely not an easy time for us.
'Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth'
How have you been adapting to these changes?
To me, it didn’t make sense to just push for sales. Instead I've decided to take a step back and think about who we truly are as a brand, and how we can be useful in people’s lives. With most people currently spending more time on their phone and being bored or lonely, I’ve decided to bring a bit of our adventure spirit into our online community.
Earlier this month, we invited people on our Instagram to complete fun challenges at home - like games, and DIY plant growing and mask making - and win some prizes, like our Urban Jacket.
It was very fun. People played along, and it proved that adventure can really start wherever you are, even confined at home. This made us reconsider our future product range, and we’re working on new prototypes as we speak!
How might this affect the 'adventure' / 'outdoor' industry?
This period of time made us realise how important good mental health is. We’re now working on incorporating this even more in our values, and ultimately products we’d like to offer in the future.
I believe brands should double up efforts to connect with their audiences in a more authentic way than just selling stuff. It could just be the case of sharing inspiring and uplifting stories from normal people in their own community, for example.
It’s easy to say for sure, but now is the best time to start. A lot of good can also come out of this period.
How do you think COVID-19 might affect the cycling industry longer term?
This is a blessing for the cycling industry. With more people considering using this option to get around even after the lockdown is over, we’re very confident that new bike users will emerge, and naturally a bigger cycling community and maybe one day an even better public service for cyclists better roads, public pumps and maybe even public repair stops? Who knows!
What would you say to new cyclists?
Sometimes it’s nice to take the long way home and enjoy little new sights :)