Austin Smith and Bryan Fox really like snowboarding, and are super good at it. And nowadays, how it works is, when you get really good at something, people want to use you as a kind of super-powerful-mobile-billboard to promote their stuff. The boys had the crazy notion that the products they promote shouldn’t be harmful to the fans that buy them. So when they saw the dominance of the sugar-and-caffeine-laden energy drinks in the extreme sport market, they used their noggins to come up with a simple alternative. Drink Water was born.
DSM caught up with Austin Smith, a couple of years into the Drink Water initiative, to see how the brand and the movement came to be.
DW: Bryan Fox and I started Drink Water a couple of years ago as a response to the overwhelming presence of energy drinks in snowboarding.
Like many other action sports, energy drinks came in with hefty wallets and were able to buy up events and advocates. We weren’t down and basically made the joke that the thing we were down for was water. It went from writing the words on our boards, to apparel, to water bottles, to the involvement of Bryan’s older brother Stephen and eventually another partner, making it the four of us.
“It’s really quite the extended joke at this point.”
DSM: A lot of people believe strongly about something but never really take that next step, to doing something about it, like you guys did with Drink Water. What’s was the key for you guys to going from talking shit, to actually doing something about it?
DW: It comes down to having good people around you. Sure we took a bit of a plunge and dumped money into materials and a screen printer (not a ton, but some) and basically gave away most of the first run of goods. But the people around us, friends in the industry, fellow snowboarders and random supporters who backed the message, all took up the cause and made it their own.
“That’s why Drink Water spread so quickly and is what it is today, because of good people supporting us.”
DSM: Not only does Drink Water promote a healthy alternative to the huge energy drink/extreme sports partnership, but you guys also support water.org. How’s that partnership work?
“We believe in making the Drink Water statement, that we had an obligation to help provide people with that opportunity – particularly given the massive global water crisis and much of the world’s lack of access to clean drinking water.”
Stephen Fox, who previously worked for USAID in DC, had knowledge into effective non-profits who were successful in fighting the global water crisis. We essentially picked water.org and have been directing a percentage of proceeds and fundraising efforts towards them since.
DSM: How can people get involved with Drink Water?
DW: There are a number of ways we like people to get involved with Drink Water. The first, most simple and most straight forward is to simply spread the message and tell the story.
“Beyond that, we’re always down for people to run the goods and the stickers, share in the social media madness and just to do something disruptive in their lives. It’s good to push against what’s normal every so often.”
To check out all things Drink Water, and to purchase yourself some of their stuff, head to their website here!
Feature image by Liam Gallagher, track this legend down here.
Other pics by Drink Water and Co. Check them out on Facebook here.