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Sunday, December 9, 2012
That's it for Voleurz

By Robin Macdonald
ESPN.com

The founders of Voleurz call it quits after 10 years in business.

This week, Voleurz, the small clothing company based out of Vancouver, BC, announced it would no longer be producing product and would cease operations. The brand launched in 2003 and made a name for itself by producing an annual ski, snowboard and skate video that was distributed for free online. The film often featured athletes such as skiers Riley Leboe, T.J. Schiller and Josh Bibby.

"I'm so sad to see them go but was so proud to be part of the family," said T.J. Schiller. "They brought together all sports under one roof and showcased fun. Whoever wore Voleurz you knew what they were about. It is an identity for so many people. Voleurz and all of their ridiculousness will never be forgotten." Voleurz sold clothing in more than 70 stores throughout Canada, Australia and the United States. We sat down with Darren Rayner, one of Voleurz's three founding members, to ask him about the company's history and why it came to an end 10 years after it began.

So, what happened? Why pull the plug now?
We had issues with manufacturing overseas, which put us in a position that proved to be too risky and unsustainable going forward. We were unable to react in time so we made the collective decision to dissolve the company and move on to other opportunities.

What's next for you guys?
Bruce Giovando will continue to work on the creative side, focusing on graphic design and web development. Harvey Liwill be producing custom apparel and accessories for clients worldwide. And I will be chasing snow throughout North America filming for a few different projects. We all have exciting projects ahead of us and this won't be the last you'll hear of us. Onward and upward.

Skier KC Deane rode for Voleurz.

How did Voleurz get its start?
Voleurz was born in the basement of our university frat house in 2003, where we spray-painted five t-shirts for our friends. Throughout university we were active doing the things we love and capturing it on tape. We built a blog and produced films in a time when there was a lack of content on the internet, and subsequently our word spread throughout Canada. We finished up university, hired women's wear designer Randi Obenauer, built a sales rep team, attended our first trade show and the rest is history.

How did your company's connection with the world of skiing and snowboarding happen?
At university, we met Jan Schuster and Mason Mashon who then linked us up with their childhood friends Josh Bibby, T.J. Schiller and Joe Schuster, among others. These guys were all toddlers about to explode into the world of action sports and we were there to capture it all. Through years of traveling and riding we met many new faces and subsequently a crew of 40 athletes, artists, designers and filmmakers was born.

Was creating an annual ski and snowboard film a beneficial tactic for you, and how did this come about?
Making films wasn't necessarily a tactic or a means to generate sales. It's what we grew up doing to document the entertaining things we did on the mountain. When we first produced films we were one of the first to merge the ski and shred cultures together, and today we're still one of a few. We didn't have a prejudice toward one sport or the other, we had a diverse group of athletes, and we were drawn to their talents.