|Vancouver is home to a thriving fashion industry made up of individuals committed to its growth and success. Get to know these personalities in The Inseam and discover what makes the Vancouver Fashion scene so awesome.|
Photo: courtesy Nibz Bandanaz
There is a common misconception that snow gear is unfashionable, and while this may still be true in some cases (note the dreaded onesie), this is changing rapidly. Nibz is a collection of high quality bandanas that keep you warm and dry without sacrificing style on the slopes. Its founder, Sara Niblock, is a snowboard cross athlete, ensuring that each piece is designed with the rider in mind.
I chat with Sara about her venture with Nibz, her motivation for the line and what makes Vancouver so awesome.
Valerie Tiu: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Sara Niblock: I grew up and graduated from university (I studied kinesiology) in Ontario, then headed west as soon as I could - and I won't be turning back. I grew up beside a tiny hill called Chicopee; I knew no better then and loved it - that's where my passion for riding began.
Snowboarding is my passion and incorporating it into my job is a dream. I race boarder-cross, which is a huge rush, always a challenge and super fun. I get to ride new mountains, travel to new places and meet awesome people. I can't complain, except about all the injuries I've acquired. Keeping riders' faces warm makes me stoked, because I know they aren't missing out on any fun because their faces are too cold. Too many people head to the chalet because their faces are freezing. What a waste of time!
VT: You are a snowboard cross and slope style athlete. How did you make the transition into designing fashion accessories?
SN: I broke my back one summer while downhill biking. I had a lot of down time and it kept me busy and from getting cabin fever. Now I see an opportunity to fund my training and competitions for snowboard-cross.
VT: How did Nibz Bandanaz come about?
SN: My first trip out west in 2006, I wanted a face warmer that was fashionable. Turtle fur was really the only thing available then. So my best friend Katie and I shopped for some cool fabric. My parents were driving me to the airport so I stopped in at their house, had my mom fire up her sewing machine and I basically sewed the fabric to fleece. They sucked - Whistler is very moist. They got super wet and uncomfortable, and that's when it clicked to me: add a mesh to wick away the moisture and provide a barrier so your face doesn't touch the wet fleece, which then would freeze to ice.
VT: Where does the name Nibz come from?
SN: It's a nickname.
VT: How would you describe the Nibz aesthetic?
SN: There's a fabric/print for everyone. I even have friends' grandmas wearing them.
VT: Take us through your process. How do you go about creating new styles?
SN: When I travel a lot for training and competitions, I find and look for fabric everywhere I go. Keeps things fresh. I look at everyone's outerwear when I am on the mountain. I ask riders for input and what they would like to see.
VT: What is your favourite part about your job?
SN: Riders telling me Nibz saved their life on a cold windy day. I love shopping for fabric, receiving the finished product (it's like opening presents on Christmas day!) and when someone sees me with one on and asks if I like it, then tells me where I can get more - his buddy's shop sells them in Ontario.
VT: You design and manufacture Nibz locally. Why is this important to you and your business?
SN: I can keep an eye on quality and it ensures the product arrives on time, and can't get lost in a container somewhere in the ocean. It provides jobs in our community and fuels our economy.
VT: What's next for Nibz?
SN: More styles. Right now there's just one size fits all, but I'm working on other styles and shapes and sizes.
VT: What makes Vancouver so awesome?
SN: The people, the mountains and the lifestyle. We work to live a fun life. I run this business to pay my way through snowboard-cross. Through snowboarding, I live life to the fullest. I am so lucky to be able to go and explore new mountains, countries and cities.